Smart measures: Integrating energy management

Rajiv Sawhney, the CEO of Landis+Gyr Middle East tells Anoop K Menon how the smart metering giant is breaking new ground

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Rajiv Sawhney, the CEO of Landis+Gyr Middle East tells Anoop K Menon how the smart metering giant is breaking new ground.

From where Landis+Gyr started out in the smart utilities ecosystem to where it has reached today, how has the company evolved?
Landis+Gyr had over 100 years of metering expertise before our business transformation into smart metering leadership really started. ICT advances have been the main drivers of this ecosystem expansion over the last 10 years or so, as industry-wide investments in technology and products allowed for significant growth in applications and functionality.

Key investment areas for Landis+Gyr, given our strong metrology background, were communications technology and software that helped propel us to global leadership in smart metering when the business was acquired by Toshiba in 2011. Since then, we have further increased our R&D spend to roughly $130m in FY 2013 and expanded our capabilities in areas such as meter data management, grid analytics, advanced demand response and distribution sensors.

Today, Landis+Gyr is the leading global provider of integrated Energy Management products tailored to energy company needs.Our capabilities and portfolio includes meters for electricity, heat, and gas, communication devices, communication networks, head end systems and meter data management solutions, software and sensors for grid supervision and analytics, solutions for distributed load control, virtual power plant and advanced distribution automation application. We are ready to help our customers building a smarter grid.

With the region planning to develop smart cities and communities, what kind of opportunities does this new trend throw up for Landis+Gyr?
Based on our capabilities and track record, and in combination with our parent company Toshiba, which has identified smart communities as one of their key growth areas, we are already involved in various lighthouse projects in Asia, the US and Europe, proving the economic and ecological benefits of such concepts.

From a conceptual standpoint, the idea of smart cities has been progressing well in the Middle East. Such projects, in fact, are a brilliant way of creating self-sufficient and sustainable communities. Starting off on a smaller scale can be ideal for piloting smart technologies and getting them to work together.

The key to the success of these projects lies in understanding the complexity of their architecture and bringing the ‘sensory nervous system of the city together in a well-coordinated manner to the brain’. In other words, it is about selecting the right technologies for key applications and integrating these aspects to reap the smart benefits, as a community, in a green manner.

The opportunities for Landis+Gyr are tremendous; to start with, we can offer best practices by referring to years of experience from successful cases and projects in areas driven by regulatory bodies or in other words, the more mature markets.

Landis+Gyr is looking to create lighthouse projects in the Middle East similar to what we have done in other parts of the world. We sense immense opportunities in Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia for smart cities and the entire GCC for smart grid applications that will offer economic and ecological benefits through the integration of renewables, demand side energy management, linkages to SCADA systems and multi-utility applications. These initiatives are prioritised and acknowledged with positive intent, decree and active investment.

What are the other areas of the smart utilities ecosystem that the company is targeting?
Landis+Gyr today is the market leader in smart metering. Recent acquisitions will also allow us to enter the grid analytics space. Existing smart grid applications for distributed load control, micro energy management and storage will allow for future growth while positioning us as the utility partner of choice for efficient and effective energy management.

What is the underlying strategy behind this extended play? More importantly, what does it mean for customers?
Borrowing Lord Kelvin’s words “You can only manage what you measure,” we believe that metering is and will always remain the core of our activities. Communication technology and networks, in combination with head-end systems and meter data management solutions, provide a transparent insight into what’s happening in the distribution grid.

Analytics tools and sensors, in combination with complementary software applications and demand response solutions, will allow for system optimisation. But more importantly, with this strategy, we commit to customers our dedication to help them make the grid smarter and support their transformation to become a smart utility. In fact, the latter is pivotal for building smart communities.

Has this strategy translated into projects or deals on the ground?
Landis+Gyr has engaged consultatively in projects that are successfully implementable from a technology and architectural perspective, and also demonstrate economic and ecological benefits. We have won and have been actively involved in numerous projects all over the Middle East on a small to medium scale, which is the extent to which projects of this nature have evolved.

We are currently partnering with all the major utilities in the region on pilots and creating a portfolio which will become the backbone of their smart grid and smart city projects. We are confident of being engaged in projects of significance and importance to the region.

Given the technological maturity, how should utilities squeeze the maximum value from their smart grid investments?
They can achieve that by picking a reliable, competent and committed partner who can deliver a reliable and future-proof backbone solution. From this backbone, like a smart metering system for example, a customer can evolve, when ready, to meter data management and analytics functionality, securing full interoperability with installed IT systems and future solutions.

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