Interview with Ivan Nazzaretto, Water & Wastewater Technical Sales Consultant – Schneider Electric.
Question - Mr Nazzaretto, we would like to know about your career path up to your current position, in particular concerning ‘Smart Water’.
Answer - I have been working in the water sector for twenty years, since I graduated as a Civil Engineer, specialising in Hydraulics, from the University of Genoa, in Italy.
Early on I worked in Italy and in England for engineering consulting firms, in the design of hydraulic works. After that, for eight years I held several positions at management companies that belonged to the Enel and Iren groups.
In 2009 I started working for Telvent, which was bought by Schneider Electric in 2011. From then and until 2017, I have mainly been involved in the management of software products for the water market, and technical support to the sales and implementation of critical projects.
Since 2017 I work in the Process Automation Division as specialist in the Smart Water offer, with a clear focus on the Spanish and Italian markets.
"Schneider Electric Italy has clearly committed to broadening its traditional services offer, which focused on electrical management and automation"
Q - Which of the projects you have been involved in, in the area of Smart Water, would you highlight?
A - The most important project, due to the media impact it had in the company and because of my professional growth, has definitely been the Integrated Leakage and Pressure Management System for Anglian Water, in the United Kingdom.
The system, based on our WMS technology, allows the integrated management of the entire leakage management process (calculations, warnings, prioritising, planning and supervision of the actions to search for and repair leakages, calculation of indicators and reporting) for a 38,000 km pipeline network.
The project has been a real challenge because of its technical complexity (the system is integrated with most of the corporate systems, including the telemetry system, also implemented by Schneider Electric) and the demands of the client, a private operator in a heavily regulated market.
Q -You also work in the Italian market. What are the characteristics of your company's business in that setting, and what are the most important projects under way?
A - For the past few years, Schneider Electric Italy has clearly committed to broadening its traditional services offer, which focused on electrical management and automation, and presented its clients a global value proposition based on the EcoStruxure platform.
Thanks to this effort, together with some external factors, such as legislation updates, we were able to connect with some of the most innovative companies in the country, and carry out large scope projects, allowing our clients to improve the efficiency of their operations and react quickly and effectively to regulatory changes in force.
Currently we have several projects under way in the area of 'Smart Water', and we have just finished one for Acqua Novara. VCO, a company that provides integral water services in two provinces of the Piedmont region. We have implemented new telemetry, leakage management and hydraulic optimisation systems, and we have supplied a broad range of hardware equipment (PLCs, RTUs and variable frequency drives, among others).
Q - What are the reasons behind the implementation of cutting-edge technology projects in the water sector in Italy?
A - There have been significant changes in the regulation of integrated water services, which are now under the competence of the Energy, Networks and Environment Regulatory Authority (known as ARERA in Italian). On one hand, this has brought stability and certainty to the sector, particularly concerning tariffs; on the other hand, it means that now companies are required to communicate their results to ARERA as indicators, and to achieve improvement objectives in certain areas identified as critical.
Starting in 2020, the performance of companies will result in rewards and penalties in the tariff, with a direct impact on financial accounts.
On top of this, in 2017 the National Business Plan 4.0 came into force, a plan launched by the government to foster private investment in technology and increase research, development and innovation (RDI) expenditures. Every company that invests in tangible and intangible assets (software and IT systems) related to the technological and digital transformation of production processes can benefit from tax incentives which can translate into savings of up to 36% of the investment.
These changes mean an opportunity for Italian water companies and a boost for Smart Water technologies, led by companies like Schneider Electric.
Q - Both the United Kingdom and Italy are leading regions for the development and implementation of technologies and projects related to 'Smart Water'. What can Spain learn in this regard?
A - In general, Spain already has very good water quality services, even better than those of Italian companies, and similar to those of British companies; as well, it has a more modern hydraulic infrastructure that they do.
If we add to this the excellent level of competence of all actors in the sector, I think Spain has all the elements to benefit from a digital transformation process, which is already a reality in other geographical areas.
Although there is a general consensus in society on the need to increase the investment in water, we should prevent it from concentrating exclusively on construction works and infrastructure. It is important to plan and allocate funds to projects dealing with the industrialisation and digitalisation of drinking water and sanitation services management.
For this to happen, we have to create appropriate external conditions to foster new technologies, such as adopting measures like the Business Plan 4.0 in Italy or other similar ones.