+ digitalization + efficiency + optimization = industry

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How does your company contribute to the development of the industry and its sector in particular?

Carlos Teixeira, CEO of Eneida, a tech company that has developed an IoT platform that includes proprietary intelligent sensors, states: “Low-voltage networks are critical for a better, lower-carbon world. They are critical for the rapid penetration of renewable energy and electric cars, but also for a high-quality, safe, and economical energy supply. As we believe that we are doing our best with what we have today, and aiming to create a better world for all, we need to optimize the use of low voltage networks. Thus, we have developed DeepGrid® to optimize these networks and achieve cleaner, more accessible, and safer energy."

Marco Carvalho, from proGrow, the first web platform which combines data collection & analytics with team collaboration features, explains that "Operation inefficiencies are extremely expensive for companies and in the last decades Managers have heavily invested in Continuous Improvement (CI) models to fight this constant waste of money. Our worldwide experience in implementing CI projects taught us that these projects unfortunately rarely show sustainable results. In order to improve, companies are forced to first measure and control their processes and only with team collaboration it is possible to improve."
 

According to António Correia, CEO of Farmcontrol, a startup that offers real-time assessment of the variables relevant to livestock production and welfare, "Farmcontrol contributes to increase the efficiency of agricultural producers by providing a tool to control and monitor livestock in real time, from any place that has a internet access. Producers are able to prevent operational risks through personalized alerts, control critical equipment, and monitor major production costs (such as animal feed, water, or energy), while ensuring high standards of animal welfare and a low environmental footprint."

Luis de Matos, CEO of Follow Inspiration, who contributes to the development of his industry through robotics, says that , “Throughout the years, the company has dedicated itself to implementing its know-how and computer vision, image recognition, and artificial intelligence technologies into existing products or into unique robotic solutions that aim to significantly improve customers’ experiences in the sectors where it operates, be it retail, industry, or services."

Mário Gaspar, Unua's CEO, explains that “Our company’s concept and activity is based on the development of individual garment and fashion customization in a context of global massification. According to Mário Gaspar, "This is an increasingly strong tendency that transcends various industries and products; moreover, fashion has an even more marked aspect of individualization than other types of products, which means that this industry needs to adapt to this reality. In this context, in our line of business, it strengthens industry innovation, leading our productive partners to adopt and innovate their processes, technologies, and workforce, aiming to produce individual orders. The transformation from medium- to large-scale productive management of serial orders to the management and production of individual orders involves a large investment in re-engineering the control of orders and production, as well as distribution processes. This investment in new processes and necessarily in new technologies allows manufacturing sites to rise in the value chain of the industry where they are present. Unua concentrates on the development of a broad portfolio of products, thus stimulating a large number of industrial partners and supporting this new way of production. At present, we have a network of industrial partners, with more than 10 production units in Portugal, in the areas of clothing, footwear, and fashion accessories. In this sense, we can say that there are over 600 employees working in Unua's production network.”

How does technological development change the value chain of the product?

When questioned about how technology changes the value chain of the product, Marco Carvalho explains the importance of a software that centralizes all the existing units in the factories into a single platform, indicating that “This becomes even more powerful in an organization with several operational areas, as it allows us to centralize in a single platform not only the information contained in one area, but also the information from several areas.”

Carlos Teixeira believes that "The exponential decrease in costs originating from data acquisition, processing, storage, and communication, as well as the exponential growth in processing capacity, allow our DeepGrid® solution to offer our customers more recommendations, which are ever more precise and efficient, which in turn allow our clients to better optimize their energy network, leading to an even higher quality of service, greater energy efficiency, greater productivity of their assets, and greater penetration of renewables and electric cars." 

For Luis de Matos, "The technology developed by Follow Inspiration allows us to operate in several areas, providing our clients with solutions tailored to their needs and offering them the possibility to give their employees and clients solutions that have enormous added value." Mário Gaspar believes that "The technologies currently being developed by Unua in the area of roduct configuration, customization, e-commerce, and order management aim to directly connect the final consumer, who customizes their garments online, with the productive processes that start its production, with very little human intervention during this ordering process." António Correia states that “regular producers are able to achieve better cost optimization.” Producers who already have high levels of efficiency can prevent critical situations that could hinder their results. There is also added value for customers, which is the guarantee that the products comply with good production and environmental practices."

How does your product/service optimize the industry's traditional cost structure?

When asked how his service could optimize the cost structure of the industry, Mário Gaspar prefers to focus on another issue: "The focus of this business is not to optimize costs, but rather to considerably increase production margins, and progress in the value chain and in the target consumer segment. Therefore, from the production standpoint, the goal is to improve and optimize processes in order to make production more flexible and increase the unit value of the product to be delivered."

According to António Correia, "Optimization is observed mainly on production costs; there is a more subjective advantage, but one that is relevant today for agricultural producers in relation to consumers. There is also a qualitative gain: the impact on the quality of life of producers, who gain more time for their personal lives and can remotely monitor their livestock."

Marco Carvalho argues that "Ultimately, proGrow empowers companies to produce more while using less resources. Meaning companies will consume less energy (e.g. electricity and gas) and raw materials while producing their products. They will become leaner, more efficient and sustainable."
 

Carlos Teixeira discloses that, in 2018, Eneida expects exports to account for 75% of its turnover (vs. 43% in 2017): "DeepGrid®, our IoT platform, allows the Distribution System Operators [DSOs] to optimize their investments in low-voltage networks, using these assets for a longer period, making better use of their available capacity, increasing their energy efficiency, and improving the productivity of their operations, including network planning and management, as well as the integration of distributed energy resources (electric cars, solar panels, and heat pumps, among others) into their network. It is also worth mentioning the impact of DeepGrid® on the quality of service offered by DSOs, as well as on the development of new business opportunities in their relationship with their customers."

Luis de Matos gives an example of the impact of his company's technology in retail: "In retail, with our unique product, which has a differentiated market position of high added value, the pilots we have carried out in several European countries have indicated a highly appreciated user experience that resulted in a 25% increase in the mean purchase value."

What will your industry look like 10 years from now?

Carlos Teixeira explains that "The energy sector is undergoing a profound change with the decarbonization of production (transition to renewable energies), transition from centralized to a distributed production (solar panels in private houses, for example), the digitalization of the sector (exponential growth of the use of intelligent sensors, big data, data analytics, blockchain, and IoT), and the growing electrification of the economy and society (transport and heating, among others). It will be a cleaner, more diverse, more participatory, more digital, and more local sector. In this sector, issues such as energy accessibility and cost, security of supply (due to terrorism and global warming), and the energy needs of populations in developing countries will become more critical.

Luis de Matos believes that “In 10 years, the technologies which are now emerging will be more integrated in all sectors of activity."

Mário Gaspar believes that “Traditional large-scale models of production will continue to exist and develop based on a quasi-monopolistic concentration by a few huge players in the global retail market, with large distribution networks and stores worldwide, who will be able to achieve large economies of scale and have high leverage when negotiating with manufacturers, in the segment of low-to-medium price and quality. The market for medium-to-high quality goods will inevitably interconnect the physical stores, online purchases, production process, and logistics in an individually customized way or by offering very small releases with high speed of delivery, considerably reducing the risk of unsold stock and increasing the ability to present new collections in short periods of time."

António Correia says that his sector is also undergoing transformations brought about by technological innovations: "The concept of digital transformation is increasingly present in all sectors. Agriculture has been at the forefront of the most illustrative examples. We believe that the livestock subsector will certainly present exponential growth in this area."

On the other hand, Marco Carvalho believes that "In ten years the Industry 4.0 attributes will be the standard in most organisations. The next revolution will involve the introduction of artificial intelligence capabilities in overall operational management. Systems will proactively identify operational improvement opportunities". As it seems proGrow is already working on this new era.