Last week, Schneider Electric celebrated their annual Innovation Summit. Held in Barcelona, the event which had a conference program as well as an Innovation Hub of 5,000 square meters, served to display the latest novelties and cutting-edge technology in water and energy management, as well as automation.
Bringing together over 3,500 industry professionals, we visited the fair and spoke to Lukas Loeffler, President of the Water and Wastewater Segment at Schneider Electric, to learn about the latest trends in Smart Water and what we can expect in the upcoming years.
Question: Why does Schneider Electric organize an annual Innovation Summit?
Answer: Schneider Electric wants to showcase its innovations and the whole latitude of our EcoStruxure product offers to its key customers. We want to experience powerful discussions with our partners around the latest trends in our industry. Day 2 will continue with insightful panels and strategy talks focused around our leading-edge technology in energy management and automation.
Q: What main topics were addressed at this year’s Innovation Summit Barcelona?
A: The conference started with our Chairman and CEO, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, sharing insights on how we are Powering and Digitizing the Economy.
During the World Premiere, we took the opportunity to showcase a selection of some of our most exciting innovations. Specifically, we introduced:
- EcoStruxure Building: Connected Room Solution, Building Operation 3.0, EcoStruxure Building Engage-Enterprise mobile app
- EcoStruxure Power: Continuous Thermal Monitoring App, PowerLogic Easergy P5, EcoStruxure Power Device, Compact NSX, EcoStruxure Power Management and EcoStruxure Power Advisor
- EcoStruxure IT: world’s first-to-market 6U Wall Mount, EcoStruxure™ Micro Data Center and EcoStruxure IT Expert
- EcoStruxure Plant: EcoStruxure Plant Performance Advisors, EcoStruxure Pumping Performance Advisor
In addition, we featured 8 “Strategy Talks” and 21 “Expert Learning Sessions”. In these market specific sessions, my group chaired a session on “Adding Intelligence to Water with Smart Technologies”, with participants from major players in the industry, economics advisors and a leading smart water publication.
Q: What audience were you expecting at the Innovation Summit Barcelona?
We welcomed over 3,500 customers from 80 countries at the Innovation Summit in Barcelona.
We want to experience powerful discussions with our partners around the latest trends in our industry
Q: What were this year’s main trends in digitalization concerning the water and wastewater sectors?
A: Schneider has been refining and completing its Digital Water story over the years.
This year, we showed an array of EcoStruxure solutions from our hallmark Telemetry and Scada systems, AQUIS, our Water Network Optimization suite, our Water Loss Management offer to new offers which we call Digital Advisors. These offers, in contrast to our more traditional product and systems offers, will be marketed as Digital Services, meaning there are subscription based and typically cloud based offers.
We also showcased our newly developed EcoStruxure Pumping Performance Advisor for the first time.
In addition, we jointly presented this Digital offer with our software company and partner AVEVA, in which Schneider Electric holds the majority of shares.
Q: And changes concerning next year’s main trends?
A: We see an increased interest from our customers to discuss integrated solutions, that draw data from their existing legacy systems and present a holistic view of their operations. In addition, Cyber Security has become a major concern, which Schneider Electric is addressing through secure product design measures as well as consultative services, from assessment of vulnerabilities in customers’ operations to making recommendations how to harden their systems.
Q: How can leveraging technology like microgrid and analytics improve resiliency in the water sector?
A: There is one noticeable trend in the market to reduce overall power consumption for the operation of water and wastewater treatment plants, ultimately with the goal of arriving at a “zero net energy” water and wastewater plant. The industry has seen first solutions to convert the residual biomass into biogas, sometimes supplemented by additional energy sources such as wind and solar and battery storage. To combine these alternative sources of energy and balance their use, microgrids are needed, an area where Schneider Electric is investing heavily and we consider ourselves to be in a market leading position.
An alternative angle is to use microgrids to better shield WWW plants from possible energy outages due to their decentralized character.
Software and analytics contribute to transforming data into actionable information and putting operators in a better position to optimize the operation of their plants.
There is one noticeable trend in the market to reduce overall power consumption for the operation of water and wastewater treatment plants
Q: How can Public Private Partnerships help rebuild aging water infrastructure?
A: PPPs have become one effective vehicle to finance much needed infrastructure improvements where the public hand has difficulties raising the funding through other means. PPP’s are typically a long term partnership with a financing body, such as an infrastructure investment fund or regional development banks and an operator. To be effective, they require a relative stable environment, so that legal and contractual stability allow all partners to perform their mutual duties without having to worry about difficult boundary conditions.
Q: What results do you expect to achieve from this year’s Innovation Summit?
A: Overall, we want to be able to create a continued sense of excitement for our valued customers and partners by showcasing the innovations and solutions our company can deliver. We are using it as our dedicated platform to introduce new products and solutions to the market. While doing this, we want to engage in discussions with users and learn how to continuously improve our delivery.
The Innovation Summit enables us in a unique way to put on display the incredible bandwidth of products, systems, solutions and services which Schneider Electric brings to its many markets. Our customers and partners can experience first-hand how our EcoStruxure architecture enables solutions and has proven to be successful across different industries.
Finally, the summit also serves as a platform to attract fresh talent, since we traditionally devote the last day to invite students and graduates from local schools and universities to have them look at Schneider Electric as an attractive employer.