Strategic Alliances Help Deepen Combined FootholdWed, 02/21/2018 - 12:38
Advanced solutions in electricity measuring will allow users to harness efficient consumption, forecast peak hours and empower their purchasing power by ensuring a reduced electricity bill, says Marco Calderón, Director General of MABREX. It is no surprise that most companies involved in the electricity marketplace technology at the center of their business model as a core differentiator for the products and services they use. Sometimes, such a business model requires strategic alliances to capitalize on each partner’s strength to set an even deeper foothold in the targeted niche, he adds.
Such is the case with MABREX and its partner Schneider Electric. MABREX is the sole distributor of Schneider Electric products in Mexico and Schneider develops advanced solutions in electric measuring under a strict Quality Management System. Combined, they have a 70-year presence in Mexico’s electricity market and a specialized group that offers a proven commercial strategy through Schneider’s EcoStruxure Platform, a technicalcommercial strategy that targets better servicing for final users. “Managing our business through different distribution channels is part of our DNA. Such is the case of our EcoStruxure Platform, which is an IoT-enabled, plugand-play and open architecture platform,” says Ernesto López, Vice President of Partner Projects and Ecobuilding at Schneider Electric Mexico. “Our interaction model, which was launched in 2007, prepared us for the industry’s transformation, spearheaded by the Energy Reform, as it gave us the tools to face this new scenario with specialized technical and regulatory-savvy personnel,” adds Calderón.
As the stage was set for Mexico’s new electricity market, the Schneider Electric and MABREX alliance was ready to play. “Our interactions with Schneider allowed us to understand the direction in which the reform machinery was headed. Schneider’s EcoXpert program requires each distributor to make the required investments and design an appropriate strategy to be ready for the coming market opportunities. By 2013, we were all set,” says Calderón. “In 2014, we boosted this strategy even further. Emulating Steve Jobs, our hardware was our selling strength, while our apps services were our marketing campaign. You enhance your hardware sales through value-adding software. We set out to develop energy data-mining processes and datamanagement networks.”
Information is power and MABREX knows it. “Without data, it is nearly impossible to supervise the market. We provide the tools that help extract it and exploit it. Our technology today is the market’s go-to model.” This Schneider ElectricMABREX partnership could be integral to Mexico’s effort to deploy an intelligent electricity grid. “We could not be talking about an automotive plant manufacturing 250,000 vehicles per year without automation and IoT. Our world is transforming at an incredible pace. We need to empower our distribution channels for them to continue being our main strength in our commercialization model,” says López. “When a large electricity consumer has access to IoT, it needs specialized partners to provide servicing. An electric meter manufacturer cannot handle the increasing demand for this technology on its own. What some years ago was exclusively for the use of utility companies is now also within residential reach.” The alliance, at its core, is a strategy to prepare EcoStruxure’s business platform to integrate IoT. “In the energy world, IoT has been used for a long time now, through automation processes for industrial processes and electricity grids, albeit not fully capitalizing on the potential it presents today,” López says. The electricity chapter of the Energy Reform specifically refers to the electricity grid. “For a grid to be truly smart, it is not enough to confer it intelligence, which it has had for a time now. Intelligence is a two-way street. Both the grid and the buildings, installations and infrastructure it services must be smart as well, through IoT appliances,” López continues.
IoT is expected to witness a considerable demand increase and data storage megasites will require an equally sizable electricity consumption. According to López, these sites consume as much energy as an oil refinery. “Our specialized vendors network intervening in each electricity grid tier enables us to address these forthcoming scenarios so that everything we manufacture and commercialize is connected throughout the power generation process.”
The initial construct of Mexico’s Electricity Market used to be dominated by two primary models: basic supply and the wholesale electricity market, Calderón explains. “Now, the electricity chapter of the reform has enabled private players to participate not only in power production but also in power purchase, either with wholesale suppliers or basic supply, still under the charge of CFE,” Calderón explains.
Together, MABREX and Schneider Electric Mexico are taking on the challenge of providing energy quality on par with the high-tech equipment used in homes and offices alike. Despite the reform advancing private participation in the market as a defining principle, allowing private individuals to purchase energy from wholesale suppliers and basic supply, the engineering side of the reform points out that operating such a market requires costly technology. “We are focused on any and every electricity consumer connected to the national distribution and transmission grid whose consumption makes investing in data transfer and monitoring systems an attractive and cost-effective solution. This investment can be profitable from a business perspective, considering energy savings mean additional resources to allocate to strategic segments of their business,” says Calderón.
Schneider Electric and MABREX believe the electricity industry in Mexico is experiencing a critical turning point and the companies are determined to help shape the future. “Our interactions with CRE give us a voice as energy experts and let us jointly draft the development, implementation, improvement and strengthening of the market. Participating in this process allows us to include international best practices, including energy quality and frequency harmonics that are absent from current regulations,” says Calderón. The recent earthquakes that shook the nation showcase precisely the sizable challenges Mexico must face in its commitment to develop a smart and sturdy grid. “Mexico’s highly interconnected and interdependent grid poses a specific set of challenges involving efficient regulation and technical rigor that will allow us to shift from corrective to preventive strategies for our national electricity system.”
Aligned with Mexico’s international treaties pertaining to sustainability, Schneider Electric emulates this commitment. “Sustainability is present in everything we do, a commitment palpable even in the ethical behavior of all the members of our company across all levels,” López says. The alliance’s vision will remain focused on how the business strategies and decisions made today will have a positive impact in the mid to long term. “Sooner rather than later, there will come a time when Mexico’s largest cities will foster vertical housing, implying larger electricity consumption and a need for energy efficient devices and IoT appliances. We envision an increasingly interconnected world where we facilitate technology use to energy consumers.”