With 2020 behind us, the emphasis now for all of us at Siemens is looking ahead to the ‘next normal’ – what changes were brought about during the pandemic, to both operations and behaviours, that will stick and really add value for the coming years?
Our customers, suppliers, and our organisation witnessed great change and are still reacting to the challenges of Covid-19. 2020 was a year at Siemens where we spent €4.6bn on R&D and came up with 5,120 inventions. We also accelerated our company’s journey towards a digitalised and decarbonised future. We started 2021 as a technology company, a space I believe that we’ve occupied in spirit for a long time, due to our focus on continual improvement for our customers in manufacturing, infrastructure, and transport.
The focus for our teams supporting these three sectors is all about driving connectivity. Over the past decade, the internet of people i.e. the connectivity between humans, has reached saturation. The price of mobile phones, laptops and tablets has never been lower leading to 4.66 billion people, or to put it another way, 59% of people on earth, having access to the internet. However, the race is now on to develop the internet of things (IoT) – manufacturing, infrastructure and transport all present opportunities to connect, digitalise and interpret swathes of terabytes of information, ultimately finding value for the customers and manufacturers alike.
IoT devices are everywhere. From smart home modules to sensors for advanced agriculture, the IoT revolution is well underway, and increasingly customers are talking to us about IoT hardware. However, many overlook the opportunity to connect their power infrastructure and when they do, data is collected, not utilised. Actuators, sensors, telemetry – if data is the fuel, then interpretation is the engine driving Siemens.
Key components of your electrical infrastructure, like our Siemens switchgear, may be housed in unassuming grey boxes. But these inconspicuous machines provide that critical connection between power and your processes. Rather than viewing this asset as simply ‘keeping the lights on’, there is value in the immense data gathered by the process, as much as there is in the performance of the asset.
Those of us within Distribution Systems at Siemens have been rattling the cage for some time around the principal drivers for change in how our customers see their energy infrastructure and how they associate it with their goals of decarbonisation, decentralisation, and digitalisation. IoT technology and the interpretation of the data collected is the conduit between the here and now and building that future energy strategy.
The age of resilience
Any problem with an asset can be repaired quickly in real time. However, thanks to IoT we’re fostering a culture of predictive maintenance based on real-time data collected by hardware. This enables our customers to make smart decisions.
Through this data, our aim is to prolong the life of the equipment, and as a result, reduce its CO2 footprint thanks to careful conditioning, monitoring, and maintenance. This isn’t about tearing out old equipment that is still of use. We understand the importance of circular economy thinking and that value lies in reuse and extending the life of a piece of equipment for many more years. Slowly but surely, the true role of an engineer is realised – a problem solver using a combination of asset knowledge and data-driven insight to build a picture of performance and equipment lifespan. The tools of the trade are now a combination of cogs and code.
Using sensors and actuators, collecting performance data is step one. Step two is making it accessible to create real customer value. Through tools like our NXPower Monitor, infrastructure optimisation, data analysis against KPIs and multi-asset remote monitoring is possible.
Thanks to this focus on data collection and insight, electrical infrastructure will last longer and work more efficiently. It will provide visibility of performance which will drive innovation and improvements, while reducing costs, red tape and timelines for customers. But above all, it will help our customers on their collective journeys towards their 2050 decarbonisation targets. This is about keeping resources in operation, optimising their performance and extracting the maximum value from them while in use. It’s this circular economy thinking that can be one of our biggest weapons in the fight for a decarbonised, sustainable and responsible future.
And the anchor for all of this innovation? The unassuming grey box. The connection between your power and your processes. Helping you drive transformation and success through your data.