By Martin B. Petersen, Regional Marketing & Sales Manager - District Energy & Water, ABB
This means that scheduling and operating heat plants will become ever more challenging. On top of this, a flexible electrical environment will be critical to optimize distribution using real-time data from smart-meters. Managing this will demand a high degree of digitalization to lower heat loss, increase revenue, supply better services to customers and develop new business models. Moreover, this is only the beginning of digital transformation. This does not come without obstacles such as who owns the data, what data can be used and how, incentives to invest from different parties in the distribution flow, organizational and regulatory barriers, and the list goes on. However, there are low hanging fruits already in front of us that a digital solution can support. By experience, a 20 to 30 percent boost in profitability is within reach. To gain this you need to be agile, accept failure and the fact that you do not have all the answers. Digitalization is not something that happens in a silo, in one part of an organization. It needs to be developed across many units of the organization and with outside partners knowing your business and processes. Try to also look at this transformation as a way to connect different parts of your organization to one common goal. You need data and support from across the whole of your organization, as the real power of your efforts comes when new skills and technologies are combined with existing institutional knowledge. Bring people from across the organization into design thinking and users to participate in developing applications and tools from the very beginning. The approach should be collaborative. I hope you will enjoy this edition and that it inspires you to embrace the digital possibilities that are in front of us to improve customer experience, lower our carbon footprint, embrace electrification, find new business models and increase revenue. It is achievable by collaborating across your organization while interacting with the wealth of knowledge, solutions and ideas that flourish in the industry.
This edition of Hot Cool looks at digitalization and what per- spective the digital transformation has on our industry. It is also the first edition after the summer holiday, so welcome back from a hopefully relaxing and by guarantee HOT summer. Please take a moment to remember how much you have used your smartphone during or preparing for your vacation: booking hotels, ride-sharing, navigation, restaurant or event reviews, etc. Then think about going back to work where recognition and embracement of digital is far less complete. Many of us use the same digital tools as we did five and even 20 years ago. Maybe they are faster and have more features, but they are not as revolutionary as the development of the smartphone. Why is this, when we have so many possibilities to utilize data at each of our levels from production to customer interface? This issue of Hot Cool will try to answer this question by highlighting some of the opportunities associated with digital technologies and by demonstrating how we can start using data in a more structured way. Very often “going digital” means building a visualization platform with the main aim of acting as a central repository for all data, distilling it into a single source of truth, and supporting the ‘scaling-up’ of sophisticated digital and advanced analytics programs that translate into business value. A well-developed solution can both improve efficiency and uncover new revenue and growth opportunities. What is it then that is keeping us from reaping these benefits? My experience is that many are struggling to connect disparate systems and data in an easily scalable way. However, if “going digital” follows some basic rules, the struggle can be reduced. These basic rules are: Focus on delivering impact fast by solving real business problems; use existing data to build the platform iteratively; and make sure that there is collaboration across the whole organization. It is complex, but possible. Think about the developments in the production level of our industry. We are looking into a future with multiple smaller heat production sources and even prosumers combined with a centralized production.
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