TO CAPITALISE on the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, Schneider Electric of France is pushing ahead its ecosystem to digitally connect machines, devices and other objects world-wide.
CEO Jean Pascal Tricoire told a gathering of 5,000 top executives and customers at Schneider’s recent Innovation Summit 2018 in Paris that the Internet has already connected about 5 billion people world-wide as exemplified by users of Facebook, LinkedIn, Uber and the likes.
In the IoT era, as many as 50 billion objects could be connected globally by the year 2020, he said.
Thailand is one of the Asian markets eyed by Schneider Electric, especially with regard to the country’s Thailand 4.0 initiative aimed at digitalizing the economy and society.
The IoT platform allows industries, factories, and buildings, including power plants, production of consumer goods, hotels, healthcare, and other sectors, to go digital to boost productivity and enhance customer experience while reducing energy and other costs.
According to Tricoire, the world has witnessed the “Internet of people” since the 1990’s. “Now, it’s the IoTs (or the Internet in its second phase connecting machines and devices),” he said.
With the IoT platform, called Ecostruxure by Schneider, management and maintenance of assets and devices such as personal gadgets, home appliances and industrial machines will rely on data and predictive analytics to deliver smart and pro-active choices.
Schneider’s ecosystem focuses on buildings, power grids, factories, data centres, homes, and infrastructure using cloud and edge computing as well as machine learning and other artificial intelligence capabilities.
The results are connected products with edge control and mobile apps.
For example, the platform for factory automation and energy system management increases productivity resulting in less energy and other costs as data is used in real time to deliver smart and pro-active choices in running factories or buildings’ energy consumption system.
At present, power consumption in the transportation sector represents the largest portion, accounting for as much as 30 per cent of the world’s total energy consumption.
Tricoire said solar energy will likely be cheaper than fossil sources by 2030.
This will boost the decentralisation of electricity generation resulting in a rapid growth of micro-grid installation using digital technology to reduce power production cost by as much as 15-20 per cent.
According to the CEO, digitalisation and related businesses accounted for 60 per cent of Schnieder’s total 2017 revenues of 25 billion euros. This was largely driven by the Ecostruxure platform for IoT and connected machines in six major domains including data centres, buildings, IT, energy production.
The firm currently works with more than 15,000 engineers to provide both software and hardware plus services which include augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) programmes for safer asset maintenance and personnel training.
At present, only 10 per cent of data is used but the data usage ratio will rise much further if more cloud computing service is adopted to bring back more data to mobile phones and devices for pro-active maintenance of machines and other assets.
He cited the Ecostruxure for buildings as an example as it empowers employers to boost productivity and save costs since an estimated 90 per cent of a building’s cost is related to people.
Such an eco-system makes it possible to ensure that a building always has a good ventilation system as this will lead to less sick leaves among workers, thus boosting the overall productivity.
Hotels and hospitals can also benefit from better guest and patient experience as well as comfort resulting in less complaints on Trip Advisor for hotels.
“In Building Operation 2.0, which is an open system software, there is the building advisor for diagnostics, analytics and insights. These tools result in 29 per cent less maintenance and 33 per cent less complaints for hotels and hospitals as we use sensors, controllers and other devices to collect data for pro-active management of the buildings,” he said.
The data from power plants and other high-value assets can also be connected with the experts via sensors so as to utilise an analytic software that can predict failures for pro-active maintenance.