The 2018 Wonderware X-Change conference created the opportunity to launch the new alliance between AVEVA and Schneider Electric. At the helm of AVEVA’s 26-strong contingent was vice president of strategic partnerships, Doug Warren. SAI&C’s associate editor, Kim Roberts, had an opportunity to catch up with him and Deryn Browning, Wonderware Southern Africa industry sales director, to find out more about the plans for their digitalisation strategy.
SAI&C: What is the logic in creating this new business?
Doug Warren: The main reason is scale, which gives us flexibility in this rapidly changing landscape of the IIoT. Digitalisation is what AVEVA can bring to the party like no other peer in the marketplace.
We also bring our 3D design tools. Most plants spend millions to update data and do modifications from scratch. With our digital representation and 3D tools we can create and track a digital fingerprint of a plant’s assets, combining this with Schneider Electric software to leverage it through its lifecycle. Schneider’s strength is focused on operations and we bring 3D visualisation design tools to the front end. We are now eight weeks into the merged company. There are exciting times ahead.
SAI&C: What is your view on digital transformation?
Doug Warren: Companies cannot afford to be left behind. There are so many challenges for our end-user customer base and digitalisation helps them become more competitive. For example digital twin technology can model a design, right the way through the lifecycle, allowing more efficient use of precious capital and squeezing every ounce out of the capital invested.
A mining company for example can grow and then divide into parts of the value chain. This can lead to silos developing across the value chain and natural barriers to optimisation. Digital transformation breaks down these silos and creates a flow of information across the board. We can leverage solutions across our industrial platform to create a dashboard view and drive optimisation of the end-to-end costs of bringing data together. This is the next revolution in industrialisation and we will use it to drive our business.
SAI&C: What does this change mean to end-users?
Doug Warren: In the past an end-user building a mine would historically go to an EPC company to design the layout and link existing logistics. The EPC would hand over the keys and then tell the end-user how to run the mine. But meanwhile there would be a whole lot of other different systems running independently. The benefit now to the end-user is a seamless, natural flow of information that did not exist before.
SAI&C: What is AVEVA’s vision for Africa?
Doug Warren: Together with Wonderware we have enjoyed a special relationship with EOH. This is evident in the presence of our team at this event, and we have seen how close EOH and Wonderware are to their customer base. We now have an even greater ability to support this long-standing relationship. We see it strengthening still further and our portfolio growing. We could not have a better partner in southern Africa.
An example of where we can help is the mining industry, which already has a broad realisation that digitalisation transformation is essential for survival. The challenge comes from the non-digital culture that sometimes still exists. The difficulty is how to take bits and pieces of the IIoT to make a start in optimising across the value chain. Through digital transformation we can help them break down the silos and expose the value chain leaks.
SAI&C: How are you addressing the generation gap in the industry?
Doug Warren: There is a whole shift happening in terms of generation. Young people can handle the sheer pace of technical change, they know how to cope with the big data and they are not scared of innovation. They also make different demands on the software tools they use. Today, no young person would read a manual, they go online.
Learning in a gaming environment is natural for them and we use gamification to our benefit. A lot of 3D technologies come from the gaming industry and are then applied in an industrial context, especially augmented reality. We are looking at some of these tools and at how you can use them to manage change among workers of all ages. For example young workers today don’t stay even five years, while the older ones stay for 30 years. We must bring in a phased approach and have the workforce involved in our processes so that they own them.
SAI&C: What message should we take away from X-Change?
Deryn Browning: The purpose of X-Change was to help take away the risk for our customers as they embark on their digitalisation journey. We started by presenting our digitalisation strategy to show them what’s possible, and followed up with the technology that can make it happen. The key is to start by looking at your business process, otherwise you will go down the wrong path. Look at the value leaks and the business problem you need to solve and then get to the root of the problem. From there you can introduce digitalisation to solve the problem and reap the benefits.
Doug Warren: Our message is how we can glue our applications together onto one industrial software platform. All our innovations will be connected to this. Three things are critical:
• Firstly, we are a software company with scale and experience.
• Secondly, we have our upstream visualisation software platform for plant design.
• Thirdly, the reason why we brought our top team of more than 26 people to South Africa is that this is a fascinating market. The level of innovation in what you do with the technology we provide is world class – it is awe-inspiring. All you have to do is walk through the exhibition to see it.
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