Equipping businesses with the ability to accelerate
Ravi Gopinath is Chief Cloud Officer and Chief Product Officer for AVEVA. Through Performance Intelligence, AVEVA connects the power of information and AI with human insight, to enable faster and more accurate decision making, helping industries to boost operational delivery and sustainability. Its cloud-enabled data platform, combined with software that spans design, engineering and operations, asset performance, monitoring, and control solutions, delivers proven business value and outcomes to over 20,000 customers worldwide.
2020 was a year of unforeseen business impact. It tested operations of every size on how effectively they could respond to operate in a radically different business environment. The key to the success of this response was technology.
The last 12 months have forced businesses to pivot and adjust to the new market realities, it also empowered them to accelerate digital transformation projects, many of which had been embarked on before COVID became part of the vernacular, and leverage technology as an enabler for the shift in their operations. The combination of which created a solid foundation on which strategies for the new business environment could be defined and deployed.
For example, SCG Chemicals implemented a plan to ensure safe operation and reliability through its digital reliability centre using virtualised operating and engineering information of assets through a 3D virtual plant. It was able to integrate multiple data sources with rich analytics to predict issues and prescribe remedial actions. It also used AI-infused mobile operator solutions to increase efficiency and reduce errors.
Reducing the cost of execution
There is no doubt that capital projects in the industrial sector were impacted last year. However, many projects already sanctioned or in construction mode are continuing, but with the requirement to materially reduce the cost of project execution. For engineering, procurement and construction companies, driving efficiencies to reduce the execution cost of lump sum turnkey contracts has become central to their digital transformation efforts.
One example is Petronas, which replaced its legacy tools to increase the speed and efficiency of decision making, eliminate value leaks from inconsistent data and leverage common information across multiple sites. The combination of which reduced crude evaluation time, increased margins across the supply and distribution network and optimised fuel and electricity consumption at each refinery site.
Both the above examples demonstrate the benefits of executing to a well defined digital transformation strategy supported by best in class technology and solutions. In fact, many learnings and experiences of the past year have started to define what the future of the industrial enterprise could be.
The future industrial enterprise
The necessity to be operationally resilient and agile will be a defining characteristic of the future industrial enterprise. Demand and supply will continue to be volatile and companies will need to ensure that information and processes across the value chain of procurement, planning scheduling, production and distribution are set-up to enable informed decision-making and drive rapid responses to shifts in demand and supply to mitigate the impact to the bottom line.
Sustainability too, will be an increasing focus. Demand patterns have already shifted to clean energy, natural resource conservation and health center consumption. Capital projects will focus on building assets that are designed for sustainable operation. Product mixes will shift to addressing the new demand patterns, supply chain and production will be targeted delivering these products. Indeed, we are already seeing operations being proactively managed to minimise any environmental impact.
Moving from automated to autonomous
As workforce capacity is rationalised to market conditions, automation in operations will increase. However, moving from automated to autonomous, will require higher levels of intelligence embedded in operating assets and operational applications to smoothly adapt to new requirements while consistently meeting operational goals, quality, safety and complying with regulatory norms. Safety and reliability too will also be key attributes.
Industries operate complex assets in mission-critical operations that typically require a high-level of expertise and supervision to ensure safety. As operations become autonomous, often with remote supervision, availability, reliability and safety will increasingly be built-in through more pervasive sensors, data aggregation, predictive analytics and prescriptive guidance to preempt failures and ensure the right remedial actions to restore safe operation with minimal disruption.
All of which points to the rise of the connected workforce. As the next generation starts to resume its responsibilities, expertise based on years of experience will gradually be replaced by a new digital skill set. Designers, engineers, operators and managers will all be equipped with the information, analysis, automation and guidance to ensure that they are able to execute their tasks efficiently and safely, individually and as digitally-connected teams.
As a result, the human role will become less about handling the transactional and procedural aspects of work, and more about bringing insight and capability to bear using the digital tools and work enablers of the industrial enterprise. This will create a new framework for learning and development and upskilling people competencies in the new digital context.
Transformation initiatives accelerated
The outcomes of digital transformation initiatives accelerated over the past year have underscored the critical role of technology. Not only as an enabler for the future industrial enterprise but to break down information and process silos with a common digital thread across the asset lifecycle and the operational value chain. We’re now entering a new era where major industrial operations are creating experiences as intuitive and compelling as consumer technology - and that can only be a good thing.
Scala Data Centers sets 2033 renewables goal
Scala Data Centers is pledging to provide its Brazil customers with 100% renewable energy by 2033.
The strategic goal follows the signing of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with ENGIE Brasil Energia, the Brazilian's largest private energy producer. The contract guarantees the supply of more than 1,600 GWh of clean energy in 12 years, a volume sufficient to supply, for one year, a city of around 700,000 people.
Scala Data Centers is a sustainable hyperscale data center platform, founded by DigitalBridge.
Marcos Peigo, co-founder and CEO of Scala, said the agreement with ENGIE reinforces the company's non-negotiable commitment to base its operational growth on fully sustainable premises. "We focus on strategic partnerships that can scale and maintain our operation with the lowest possible environmental impact, without giving up the high quality and competitiveness that are recognised differentials of our company", the executive said.
Eduardo Sattamini, CEO of ENGIE Brasil Energia, added that offering solutions to decarbonise its customers' operations is in line with ENGIE's purpose of acting to accelerate the energy transition towards a carbon neutral society. "Our partnership with Scala demonstrates the importance of sustainability as an added value for business prosperity, in harmony with the future of people and the planet" he said.
Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) state that, in the last five years, 50% of the PPAs contracted around the world came from leading global technology companies.
Since 2007, Google has been using renewable energy and managed, 10 years later, to zero its global carbon emissions. More recently, Amazon has committed to zero carbon emissions by 2040 and to use 100% renewable energy by 2030. Oracle has expanded its commitment to sustainability, promising to leverage its global operations using 100% renewable energy until 2025.
Peigo hopes that its "leading role" can inspire other Latin American companies to follow the same path.
In regards to the UN’s 7th Sustainable Development Goal (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), Brazil’s energy policies have been very effective in meeting world’s most urgent energy challenges, according to Climate Scorecard.
Firstly, access to electricity across the country is almost universal and the electricity sector is the largest in South America. The power sector in Brazil serves more than 50 million customers, granting 97% of the country’s households’ reliable electricity.
Renewables compose almost 45% of Brazil’s primary energy demand, making it one of the least carbon-intensive globally, and its national grid is made up of almost 80% from renewable sources. A large part of its renewable resources come from biofuels and hydro.
Atlas Renewable Energy, along with Unipar, a leader in chlorine, chlorides, and PVC in South America, recently signed a large-scale solar energy PPA in Brazil. The clean solar energy supply will be generated through Atlas Renewable Energy's Lar do Sol – Casablanca II photovoltaic plant in Pirapora, State of Minas Gerais.
"The adoption of renewables is becoming a staple of good corporate responsibility and we at Atlas offer a unique opportunity for large energy consumers to clean their energy matrix and at the same time be sponsors of the social and environmental programs we develop to uplift the communities where we operate," said Luis Pita, General Manager of Atlas Renewable Energy for Brazil.
Mauricio Russomanno, CEO at Unipar, added that the total amount of generated energy destined to Unipar will be enough to produce chlorine for water treatment to over 60 million people.