Water & Wastewater Asia Jan/Feb 2019

Water & Wastewater Asia • January / February 2019 IN PERSON | 23 Sophie Borgne Senior vice president of digital plant line of business, Schneider Electric Lukas Loeffler President of water and wastewater segment, and strategic customers and segments, Schneider Electric “Start with one plant, start with one team, get your results, then scale. We have a lot of companies that are successful in doing that.” TRAINING TOOLS: PEOPLE- CENTRIC TO BE EFFECTIVE While central management should support the transition process by providing some re-training for plant operators and to help them adapt to the changes, it is also important for solution providers to work closely with the workforce to truly understand the information they need, so that the virtual reality solutions are truly effective and there will be no issues getting the workforce to use the tools. “The problem comes when the tools have been designed by an engineering team that has never talked to the people who are going to use it and it is completely misaligned,” explained Sophie. Lukas recounted a visit to a large water and wastewater company in the United States which asked the same questions – what was their vision and what was their greatest challenge in getting there? Their visionwas to put the plant on autopilot – no one would need to touch the controls, and the plant can be run entirely by computers. However, the greatest challenge in getting there was actually to get people to not touch anything. FUTUREWATERPLANTS: LEARNING TO SEE BUT NOT TOUCH “It is human to want to interfere, it is natural that they will want to turn the valves and open the gates. The hardest part is to tell a person to sit there and look at the screen. Eventually they will still need to be completely hands off but in the immediate time-frame, workers were given a frame of reference and some controls, it is almost like a computer game – they have to stay within the white corridor on the diagram, don’t go too far, don’t go too low. That gave them a little something to do.” For example, a chief operator of a water plant may have a couple of tanks for emergency water supply that needs to be 75 per cent full. As his or her shift comes to an end, the operating head says, another colleague is coming in a couple of minutes, why not fill up the tank for him. That is wrong because he or she should leave it to the system. In this case, the system indicates that the tank is still full enough and will take another two and a half day before needing to be topped up. Also, the system may suggest filling the tank at night, as the rate of electricity is much lower so more energy is saved. This example illustrates just how hard it is to get people to take their hands off because we are naturally inclined to be active. “Companies may also want to consider retraining their workforce to do different things,” suggested Lukas. TO GO IN THE CLOUD, OR ON PREMISE? Another very real and unpredictable risk with no clear answers in sight is the issue of cybersecurity. Every company faces two fundamental directions when they go digital—to go on premise or to go on the cloud. Many larger water companies still have their own computers on premise, not wanting any cable connected to their cloud, or any connection outside of their plants, terrified that someone will attack their network. “This is philosophical question, really – on premise, or in the cloud? “A year ago, at a big water conference, there was a forum of about 120 water leaders, and the session leader took a vote, how many people believe that the water market will go cloud-based, less than 20 per cent of the people said yes, so everybody said that it was predominantly going to be on premise,” said Lukas. “This year, critical human infrastructure company Black & Veatch, a partner of ours, did an annual study of the big trends in the water market. They came up with the exact opposite answer, that the market is ready to go on the cloud. This is an interesting thing, which way will the market go? “In my prediction is, it will go both ways. And logically, you will expect a smaller water plant, where people don’t have the training, the computer centre, the IT knowledge to be much more likely to go for cloud-based solution which are equally safe. There is no reason to believe that cloud-based solution cannot be safe. Look at banking, it is in the cloud and all our personal finance data is in it. So why would a water company be less protected than all the financial data that we all have in the cloud?” The future trend, as forecasted by Lukas, will be that the smaller, medium-sized water companies will more likely go cloud-based, whereas larger players will want to retain control, which they also have the means to. Still, abig factor incybersecurity ispeople. “We see that the biggest part of the cybersecurity incidents is due to people, on purpose or by accident. An attack inside the system can be caused by reasons as simple as plugging a USB key or by clicking on the wrong thing. So again, training on cybersecurity is really important.” That is why Schneider Electric places utmost importance in providing the highest possible level of cybersecurity. There are almost a hundred experts monitoring the system all over the world to help customers. A big team also provides cybersecurity services for their customers. “When we provide cybersecurity services for our customers, we always do an initial assessment and let our customers know of the level of risk that they are at, given the level of protection they have. We will then propose some solutions to reduce the level of risk. We are not claiming to bring the consumer zero level of risk, but we have solutions to decrease this level of risks. It is really something that we have a lot of experience in,” said Sophie. WWA All images are credited to Schneider Electric