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Innovation Day Lagos- Schneider Electric Is Turning Innovation Into An Art Form

15/10/2019 ISAAC ANYAOGU, 'Business Day'

As a global specialist in energy management and automation in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric is unveiling next-generation integrated energy solutions across multiple market segments, ISAAC ANYAOGU attended the company’s Innovation Lagos event and reports that the French company looks like it wants to even innovate how we imagine.

Imagine waking up on a cold morning and the air conditioner knows to warm your bedroom. Your coffee maker prepares your coffee – cream and no sugar. Your bedroom senses your need for more light and gently parts the curtain. Sinatra seeps from the ceiling and your bathroom serves you hot water following prompts on your smart phone.

Dressed, you step into your living room just as the lights come on. At the door, an alert chime on your phone warning you to avoid the Third Mainland Bridge because the traffic today seems like it’s nursing a grudge. Midway into your journey, you’re not sure you closed the kitchen door. You share this concern with Alexa and in seconds, the door is securely locked!

While this may look like an overactive imagination, the folks at Schneider Electric already have an app for them. It is not just enough that houses be smart, the company believes they must be wiser. Imagine your smart phone regulating your room temperature or a factory’s central cooling systems warning the facility manager it is due for service. This is how Schneider Electric understands Life, turned On.

“We are innovating for the future,” says Christophe Begat, managing director of Schneider Electric in remarks kicking off the company’s Innovation Day Lagos which held on October 10, 2019 and featured expert learning sessions around issues including cybersecurity, end-to-end traceability for consumer-packaged goods and even smart, self-healing grids for electric utilities.

Schneider Electric seeks to power and digitize the economy to keep the world energized, efficient and connected. Already, the Internet of Things is reshaping how we live as devices have become more connected than any time in human history.

L-R: Albert Fuchet, Christophe Begat, Alhaji Bola Azeez, Mojola Ola, Nurudeen Oyedeji, Ifeanyi Odoh.

In many homes today, smart phones and tablets serve us through voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. Some homes have motorized blinds, smart entertainment systems, smart fridges and coffee makers, IP cameras and smart locks on doors. Devices have become so smart; it seems we are playing catch-up.

An enabler of this connected world is advances in digital technology, a field Schneider Electric leads. The number of connected devices worldwide now exceeds 17 billion, with the number of IoT devices at 7 billion and this does not include smart phones, laptops or fixed line phones.

“The transformation the world has seen in the last 20 years, is far more than what the world saw 200 years preceding the last 20 years all because of tech innovation,” said Temitope Fasoranti, executive director at Zenith Bank who shared how innovating around smarter energy systems using Schneider Electric’s products helped save the bank 60 percent in energy costs.

Albert Fuchet, Schneider Electric cluster president, Anglophone Africa in his keynote address, said the company sees every problem encountered by society as an opportunity for innovation.

Fuchet however, warned that the way we live now is not sustainable. “If we don’t do anything, experts are telling us that global temperatures will rise between 3 and 4 degrees which will mean more environmental disasters, more migration and catastrophe and in a city like Lagos, we don’t want to think about the implications.”

Human activity is responsible for carbon emission which in turn leads to rise in global temperatures. While, energy consumption is rising, over 2 billion people are without access to energy, yet over 60 percent of the energy used today is lost due to inefficient use, Fuchet said.

“Schneider as a global company is addressing this challenge with stakeholders working on the climate challenge,” Fuchet said.

In the last United Nations Climate talks, 87 global companies pledged to decrease their carbon emission but according to Fuchet, this is not a new goal at Schneider Electric. “We have been working for years on this, but officially we are committed to achieving net zero emission by 2030.”

To beat back the threat of climate change, he suggested we save, electrify and decarbonise. Between 30 and 50 percent energy can be saved by making buildings more efficient and generating electricity where it is used. Electricity from renewable energy sources including wind and solar can cut carbon emissions by 60% in the next 20 years Fuchet said.

The disruptive technologies of the digital economy are challenging companies to think and act differently. “We are helping businesses and individuals unlock opportunities and make the most of this digital revolution across all market spheres,” Begat told journalists.

Schneider Electric’s digital magic wand – EcoStruxure

At the heart of Schneider Electric’s innovation is its EcoStruxure – an open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform. It leverages advancements in IoT, mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics and cybersecurity to deliver innovation at every level.

Developed in 500,000 sites with support of over 20,000 developers, 650,000 service providers and partners, in 3,000 utilities and connects over 2 million assets under management, the EcoStruxure architecture is serving four end markets including building, data center, industry and infrastructure.

Re-invented buildings

EcoStruxure for buildings is enabling sustainable design and active energy management in buildings. It is used in over 1 million buildings including at the Hilton Worldwide and the Malaysian prime minister’s office.

Buildings today have evolved beyond bricks and cement, they are now smarter. Fady Morgan, digital energy business development director, International Operations for Schneider Electric in his presentation said key trends that will shape the industry include urbanization, digitization and energy consumption.

Morgan said Nigeria’s projected urbanization rate is put at 3 percent which translates to over 6 million people leaving villages for large cities like Lagos. “But we are not building fast enough to meet this growth. So we need to change what we are doing.”

Schneider Electric believes that buildings should provide personalized experience to all occupants. In re-invented buildings, artificial intelligence will deliver data insights and help building users and facility managers operate their asset much more efficiently by knowing life cycle of assets and when to repair or replace them.

Buildings will evolve into generation assets with local renewable that limit carbon foot print. They will also be simplified across systems from design to operation, enabling faster and cost-effective installation through open systems and APIs.

Digital transformation

EcoStruxure is helping companies in their digital transformation. A representative from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) said Schneider Electric helped it create a cohesive digital strategy.

Irfan Yunus, vice president sales, process automation EMEA, said companies can make the most of their digital transformation first by thinking about easy ways to get started at their facility or for their machine. Then leverage their domain expertise and the ecosystem available to develop solutions across the IT/OT domains, bring power and process requirements together to find cross-efficiencies and support them with integrated software.

Already 20 of the largest oil and gas companies and 10 of the world’s top electric utilities have employed EcoStruxure to aid their digital transformation.

Data Centers

In data centers, Remi Pouchuq, Secure Power Business Development Manager, MEA, said EcoStruxure architecture provides increased availability and improved efficiency and performance at each node.

Digital transformation is helping businesses get ahead, hence today’s collective challenge is to provide end-to-end management and resiliency to increasingly complex distributed computing ecosystem, Pouchuq said.

Schneider’s idea is to use cloud-based systems to mange hybrid IT environments. The process includes collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data, remotely monitor and manage all of a company’s sites from a single device and connect with outside experts to remotely monitor and service, then scale management systems leading to achieving better performance with predictive capability through big data analytics to spot trends and forecast failures,

EcoStruxure is helping them tackle complex IT and DC environments with Cloud-based management systems, big data analytics, mobile insights and optimized operations.

Nigerian market

Since energy demand outstrips supply in Nigeria, opportunities abound yet the economy has the world’s highest number of poor people, raising concerns for affordability.

“We launched the Global Access to Energy programme to make sure that energy is available for everyone, everywhere at every moment. Whilst catering for energy integrity at the base level, we also have basic solutions for someone who simply wants to turn the lights on and off and for off-grid communities,” said Ifeanyi Odoh, head offer marketing at Schneider Electric.

The company is also supporting training opportunities designed to re-skill electricians, partnering with local training institutions to train over 200 electricians. It equipped a JAMB center and supports some universities. It has provided 200 free modules and international certification of which over 1000 Nigerians have benefited.

“When you look at the solutions, you get a feeling it is high-end but we have major and minimum offer for all classes of customers, we are committed to bringing access to energy to a maximum number of people because we believe energy and digital are fundamental human rights,” said Begat.

Viviane Mike-Eze communications manager at Schneider Electric said the inclusive nature of their service offering can be seen in that most installations in off-grid communities are powered by the company’s devices.

Business Day

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