July 2013


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EMAIL INTERVIEW  Three Schneider Participants and Ken Sinclair

•    Brett Wheless, Director Field Services, Buildings Business
•    Alexis Grenon, Vice President, EcoStruxure company Program
•    Melissa O'Mara, Smart Cities US, Chief Catalyst, Collaborative Innovation

Xperience Efficiency

A global event series taking place live in cities around the world, and online through a virtual event, bringing together business, government, and society to share knowledge about how to solve critical energy and sustainability challenges.

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Xperience Efficiency Overview

Schneider Electric’s Xperience Efficiency is a is a global event series taking place live in cities around the world, and online through a virtual event, bringing together business, government, and society to share knowledge about how to solve critical energy and sustainability challenges.

The two U.S. events were held in Washington, D.C., June 4-6 and in Dallas June 18-20, drawing more than 700 attendees in D.C. and over 1,000 in Dallas. The free event offered more than 20 breakout sessions addressing market, industry and solution trends, an interactive marketplace including the latest developments in systems, solutions, and technology.  Various keynote speakers were also on hand such as Congressman Peter Welch, Kay Bailey Hutchison, former United States Senator from Texas, and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Schneider Electric also made series of announcements at the event, which are bulleted below:

Additional video content:

Following are some Q&A on key announcements and select sessions.

SinclairHow will customers benefit from Building Analytics?

Brett Wheless: Building analytics helps customers proactively target maintenance efforts. It allows facility maintenance staff to focus their limited resources on the areas requiring the most attention or having the largest impact on building operation - energy efficiency, comfort issues, etc. By prioritizing maintenance efforts, overall operating costs can be reduced. 

SinclairWhat is the importance of cloud capabilities in building monitoring systems?

Brett Wheless: Cloud-based solutions allow for efficient, scalable deployment across an enterprise, reduce IT costs by storing massive amounts of building data on hosted servers, and increase reliability by adding redundancy.

Sinclair: How will customers benefit from the EcoStruxure™ Alliances Program?

Alexis Grenon: Customers need solutions that expand system capabilities without adding unnecessary complexity. Through the development of joint solutions that are tested for interoperability, partners can pass on the following benefits to their end users:
•    Accelerate deployment time
•    Provide enterprise-wide capabilities
•    Simplify the customer experience
•    Increase customer satisfaction and peace of mind
•    Improve energy and operational efficiencies

SinclairHow does the EcoStruxure Alliances Program drive multi-vendor standardization?

Alexis Grenon: Through the partnership and development of tightly integrated solutions, we reduce the risk by pre-testing and validating the integration of our offers with the third-party partner before we roll it out to our customers. We can then promote the validated solution through the program and create a standardized, repeatable approach that is more reliable and delivers more benefits to our customers. When vendors do the heavy lifting of pre-testing and validating that their products integrate well with one another, it spares the end customer from that time and effort – while simultaneously reducing their risk of failure. Additionally, when components are integrated ahead of time, such as through Web services, it reduces engineering and execution risks as compared to integrating in the field. When vendors work together, they may even develop some features that differentiate their integrated offering from what competitors offer.

Sinclair:  What do both of these new offerings mean for the future of energy management?

Brett Wheless: Building analytics represents a natural evolution from simple energy data visualization that aids big picture understanding over the course of time to near real-time building performance information that can quickly eliminate operational inefficiencies. Dashboards that aggregate basic energy information and alarms are replaced with automated fault detection, diagnosis, and remote monitoring that drive specific, daily, targeted maintenance activities that can quickly drive down costs and ensure systems are operating at optimal levels.

Alexis Grenon: These kinds of partnerships and integrations are especially important to Schneider Electric with respect to our EcoStruxure integrated hardware and software system architecture and StruxureWare software applications and suites. These offerings are about providing simplified, energy-efficient factories, data centers and buildings. And the more we can tie in third-party hardware and software, such that we can manage it along with our own products, the more we can deliver even greater energy efficiency.

SinclairHow will your Building Analytics interact with smart grid? Do you support OpenADR?

Brett Wheless: Our current building analytics solution does not interact with smart grid or support OpenADR. However, our building optimization solution (BIQ) supports OpenADR and integration with various smart grid schemes.

SinclairWhat are your thoughts on evolving standards like oBix and Project Haystack?

Brett Wheless: Advances in technology will continue to increase the interconnectivity of building systems and the volume of data created. Open, secure, web-based protocols like oBix will help simplify the collection and transfer of building equipment data across the enterprise. The ability to fully leverage the benefits of this data is predicated on the software or user being able to analyze vast quantities of disparate data in an efficient manner. A common barrier is the inconsistent nomenclature used for equipment and operational data. Efforts like Project Haystack will help drive standardization by developing consistent naming conventions that will ultimately improve our ability to make sense of “big data.”

SinclairExplain the bottom-up, infrastructure-focused approach to developing smart cities discussed in your Xperience Efficiency session.

Melissa O'Mara: Regardless of unique needs and challenges, every city relies on a common building block: an urban infrastructure that is based on an electrical grid, a gas distribution system, a water distribution system, public and private transportation, telecommunications networks, public services, buildings, etc.  The bottom-up, infrastructure-focused approach to developing smart cities is aimed at strengthening these foundational building blocks of cities that deliver clean water, energy, safe roads, highways and public transport, and safe, healthy places to live work and play. It’s about fixing the basics first, with a strategic vision in mind. It’s also about looking for opportunities to drive new innovation within these different infrastructure domains, e.g. leveraging information technology across the multiple systems that are delivering services within a domain (like transportation) today, but perhaps not “talking” to each other. A great example of this is the integrated corridor management project in Dallas, where we are leveraging our Integrated Management Platform that integrates data from multiple sources in the urban infrastructure (CCTV, sensors, existing applications), across different areas (traffic, weather, pollution, construction, events, incidents), across several departments and jurisdictions (emergency response, transit and HOV operations, highway control, parking management) into a single platform. This allows operators to monitor transportation and what impacts transportation, across the city, in real-time. So we are enabling smart transportation and mobility, which is a very important part of a smart city. And we have similar examples across each of the infrastructure domains in a city.  Basically, we are helping cities solve problems today that are centered on top citizen and city priorities, and generating real value. 

SinclairHow is Schneider Electric uniquely positioned to effectively take this approach?

Melissa O'Mara: Schneider Electric has completed over 200 projects globally that are focused on operational efficiency in cities. We’ve been doing this work for decades, without calling it “smart cities.”  We have a unique portfolio of solutions and deep expertise at the operational layer of the city, and we also have systems and services that enable integration from the device level all the way up to the mayor’s office. Because of this experience and broad solutions set, we are uniquely equipped to dive deep into the systems that deliver basic functions to the city, leveraging IT and innovation where it is needed today to drive results, and leveraging lessons learned from other cities. We also have the systems and services expertise to pull the appropriate operational data up into a city-wide view, and track progress at a city level – which can be an important starting point to harvest and leverage existing data. Our Resource Advisor application is part of the StruxureWare software platform that helps customers maximize business performance and be more efficient and sustainable and provides instant and secure access to energy and environmental information, an important early step in driving accountability and visibility of the progress that is being made in each project, and across the city as a whole. Resource Advisor has a track record helping hundreds of companies go from an incomplete or cloudy view of their sustainability initiatives and current performance metrics to a crisp and comprehensive view of their portfolio of projects and their current performance metrics in a matter of months. This provides a strong baseline from which to show progress. Our knowledge of the “bottom-up” systems makes it much easier for us to pull the relevant data up to a “tops down” view.  Of course, there’s much more that we can do with that data, but that’s another conversation – about the power of data analytics, predictive modeling and planning, etc.

SinclairExplain the importance and role of data in integrating infrastructure systems in smart cities.

Melissa O'Mara: Making urban infrastructure efficient requires a combination of both Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT). Operational Technology, grounded in a deep understanding of the underlying physical systems and processes, is designed to improve the performance of infrastructure (i.e., gas, water, power). Massive amounts of data are collected and processed in these systems daily.   Information Technology enables the extraction of meaningful, reliable data from the systems, allowing real-time management, faster decisions, better anticipation – and continuous improvement. The combination of these two very different worlds of OT and IT will deliver efficient infrastructures and open up new opportunities to develop innovative services and applications for citizens. Operational efficiency has always required the use of information and data, and over time we have improved our ability to automate this decision making to drive continuous improvement of these infrastructure systems. However, since the infrastructure systems (traffic management, water management, communications, energy, buildings and security systems) in cities have grown up over time, there is now a need to address both the physical depreciation and the technology gap that exists. So, we can leverage both OT and IT to understand current gaps and help prioritize where to get started, to “fix the basics,” and then to begin weaving together appropriate information and functional capabilities from different systems in order to address citywide challenges and events, like major weather events, or to manage urban readiness for a large influx of people due to a music festival, or a football game.  Data is crucial at every level.

SinclairWhat are some examples of cities that have successfully adopted this bottom-up approach?

Melissa O'Mara: Schneider Electric has led many successful projects that adopted this approach both in the U.S. and globally. One of the first that comes to mind is a water SCADA project with the city of Houston, Texas. Schneider Electric retrofitted 40 municipal buildings as part of the Clinton Climate initiative, which included the installation of a new electric SCADA system for water and wastewater management. The project earned the city more than $3 million annually in energy and water savings, as well as increased the efficiency of water distribution throughout the city.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, Schneider Electric led a transportation and electric network project for the city. This included the implementation of a real-time adaptive traffic management system and a central traffic control center, as well as an electric SCADA system by the Chattanooga Electric Power Board, which serves 156,000 customers. In addition to decreasing traffic and increasing the efficiency of the city’s power grid, the project earned Chattanooga the recognition of one of the seven smartest cities in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum.


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