Power Industry Tunes in the Digital EraWed, 02/22/2017 - 15:16
Digitalization is changing the way energy-efficiency measures are implemented but coping with new technological trends is not always easy for companies. Many fail to see the potential in adapting to the changing landscape, and if they see the potential, they often fear the cost, says Michel Yehuda, Industrial Unit Business Director at Fluke Dominion.
The test and measurement company is shifting gears, lowering its expectations for the oil and gas industry and instead putting a greater focus on the power, automotive and food and beverages segments, all vibrant in Mexico’s current economy. Among other technological trends, Fluke Dominion’s goal is to take these industries into the internet era.
“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a relevant technology but very few companies actually see it as a ‘must have’ for improving their business,” says Yehuda. “Most companies will usually buy just one or two items to follow the trend, instead of the actual number needed to create an IoT system. However, this is starting to change. We are helping to drive this change by providing our customers with education and training about the potential benefits of installing our IoT technology, Fluke Connect Assets,” says Yehuda.
To move its vision forward, the company will launch new IoT adaptors, low-pressure sensors and batterymanagement solutions, as well as a tailored maintenance and efficiency program that will be run by a new division called Dominion Industry.
“We are approaching energy companies willing to enter the Mexican market and we help them understand the new landscape. We make use of our wide expertise in the country, acting as an adviser and not only as a product provider,” says Yehuda. “We mostly focus on power utilities such as CFE and the large generators entering the market, as well as big manufacturers. We also place great importance on energy storage, which is a critical technology that is often overlooked.”
Fluke Connect Assets is an online platform that connects the company’s IoT solutions and works as a management and data analysis dashboard for clients. Within the platform, customers can predict their equipment’s behavior and make adequate maintenance and operational decisions. “We think this is a promising technology that could be used in different industries, not only in the energy sector,” says Yehuda. “With the introduction of Fluke Connect Assets to the market, we have started to adapt our product portfolio, connecting it with the new platform.”
The company’s education program for the technology includes demonstrations and a loan scheme for its customers to test the equipment in their facilities.
Among the hurdles for the widespread acceptance of such tech advances is the high cost of adapting old plants to fit IoT solutions. Fluke Dominion’s solution is to work with portable equipment, eliminating the need to greatly modify existing equipment. “Portable equipment has the ability to connect to almost all existing systems, so companies can implement IoT without having to make large financial investments,” Yehuda adds.
The company is looking to introduce a new brand in Mexico that will allow companies to connect their existing equipment to the latest available equipment. “It consists of small adaptors and transmitters that allow existing equipment to connect to IoT devices without having to make major changes."
He adds that "other companies promoting IoT ask their customers to invest large amounts of resources into their projects. On the contrary, we are trying to diminish installation costs, making it as affordable as possible to accelerate the adoption of this technology in the country.”
Yehuda expects the digital revolution will reach the country’s state-owned productive enterprises, although the adoption rate might be slower than in privately owned companies. “CFE is aware of the existence and potential benefits that IoT technologies might bring. The private sector is more open to adopting cuttingedge technologies but CFE has been more interested than expected in installing IoT tech in its facilities, whereas this has not been the case of PEMEX. CFE has been more actively looking into new technologies and processes to increase its competitiveness in the new market, especially since it knows that it will be competing against private companies,” he says.
Fluke Dominion has expertise in helping the stateowned utility with the introduction of leading-edge technologies, such as the Fluke 435 Power Analyzer to improve CFE’s production. “One of our solutions is our power quality analyzers, which provide the customer with an estimation of the costs that each electrical problem represents for the company, allowing the user to make more informed investment decisions. Last year, we sold a number of power analyzers to CFE because it wants to measure and monitor the economic value of each electrical problem they find, which no other product in the market can do. Besides CFE, the product has also been successful in companies in the automotive, mining and food and beverages sectors. In general, most of the large manufacturers in Mexico have already acquired one of these devices,” Yehuda says.
To keep bringing new companies aboard the energyefficiency and digital bandwagons, Fluke Dominion will continue using the same strategy: being where the customer is. “The most important strategy for us is to be present. We are investing resources in visiting new companies, conducting demonstrations and organizing training seminars. Education is an important part of our business and we collaborate with international experts to provide the best possible training experience for our clients, which can include sending an expert to a client’s facility. In this way, we are bringing the expertise where it is most needed, and not relying only on books or manuals to train our customers,” he says.
“The communication of the benefits of energy efficiency is critical, as many of our potential customers are not aware of the negative consequences caused by inefficient equipment or do not know how to detect and tackle this issue,” Yehuda say
The company, he adds, looks to make a difference in the area of client and aftersales services. “We are the only test and measurement company with a laboratory in Mexico City that has seven engineers servicing our products, sometimes years after the equipment was purchased. Additionally, we take great care of our software platform to maintain an exhaustive track of our sales records and our customer base. Once a company becomes our client, we continue inviting them to our seminars and training sessions, offering visits from our experts and communicating constantly, regardless of whether they buy new products or not. This is the system that we have followed with CFE or the National Meteorology Center, for example. With this strategy, our goal is to maintain a positive, productive relationship with our customers, helping them get the best out of our products and ensuring they will return when they need a new solution.”