Driving Greater Efficiency Through Technological Innovation

Driving Greater Efficiency Through Technological Innovation

Technological excellence can change the world as history testifies from the steam engine and the telephone, to the airplane and the internet, many successful inventions have relied on smarter use of technology to transform how we live, work, travel and communicate.

Dr. Uma Rajarathnam

Dr. Uma Rajarathnam, Head of Applied Research & Collaboration (ARC) | Enzen

It’s marvellous how these inventions have become so integral to our lives – and how technology was used to inspire and deliver them. Yet such inventions needed the right attitude too: namely a continual pursuit of improvement, excellence and greater efficiency, with the aim of creating a better society for all.

In any industry or sector, advancements in technology only achieve their potential when they’re combined with the human desire to recognise the challenges before us and identify solutions. When this happens, it leads to technological excellence that delivers many positive outcomes. Examples are more efficient use of resources to help the environment, more people accessing the technology they need to improve society, and more businesses prospering to increase economic growth. Similar forces are shaping the energy industry today. Energy and utility companies want to see their sector thrive and ensure more and more people have the ability to access and afford energy and water every day. Technological excellence is the key to achieving the kind of win-win situation that will benefit both companies and consumers.

Challenge, Innovation and Application

So what do we mean by technological excellence? It has three fundamental tenets: challenge, innovation and application. ‘Challenge’ describes the problem that needs to be overcome. ‘Innovation’ means the approach one must take to solve it. ‘Application’ is the use of correct technology to deliver the innovation.

In the ever-changing energy sector, the main objective is to provide services to consumers in a safe, reliable and sustainable manner. The process of challenge-innovation-application is essential to achieving this. This is evident in the many disruptive and digital technologies becoming more prevalent in today’s industry. Together, they’re equipping utility companies with the tools they need to deliver safer power, pressurised gas and clean water to homes and businesses alike.

A Better Understanding of Consumers

Today, industries are finding ways and means to improve their processes and understand their customers better. More than ever, companies are looking towards machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality as tools to assist with this. Such technologies are allowing utility companies to automate their processes and simulate real-life situations so they can test, learn, adapt and improve their services.

This automation has two main advantages. Firstly, it reduces human intervention, thereby decreasing the risk of human errors that are a main cause of inefficiency and accidents. Secondly, it reduces overall costs, thus helping all stakeholders in the long run.

In addition, the energy sector generates huge amounts of data, which if interpreted correctly can lead to improved service and experience for both companies as well as consumers. By employing techniques like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive analysis and forecasting, also known as big data analytics, we can build a clearer picture of sector and consumer preferences and how they are evolving. We can also predict growing consumer demand and adapt in order to meet these changing requirements. This enables utility businesses to better prepare for changes in demand, thus delivering uninterrupted power and water and superior levels of customer service.

In the 21st century, this insight is invaluable, especially as the industry continues to adopt newer models like distributed generation and integrates renewables such as wind, solar and hydro power. With so many different technologies being used, the ability to streamline processes, gather intelligence and enhance the productivity of the entire ecosystem is essential.

The Human Touch

We live in a competitive world where customer demands and needs are evolving rapidly. The task ahead for companies in the energy industry is to focus on ways and means to cater to these demands, while still safeguarding their own interests and operations.

Such a challenge brings opportunity too. Whether it’s using automation, AI or data analysis to make the supply of water and power safer, smarter and more efficient, or predicting errors and preventing disasters, we can make our industry better and more sustainable for future generations.

Technology will evolve, of course, and so will the way the energy sector operates. Over time, the need to perform better and more efficiently on a continual basis will become the industry norm – and the ability to do it well will be a deciding factor in the overall success of the energy and water industries.

Ultimately, the main differentiator will be the excellence companies and individuals can bring into the system – and the special spark of human ingenuity that makes the entire process successful.

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