Competition requires that industrial companies embrace the journey of digital transformation through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Nexus Integra enables that journey. IoT Analytics interviewed Salvador Herrando, the chief operations officer and co-founder of Nexus Integra, to discover how the Spanish company is helping industrial companies, water utilities and others to embrace the digital transformation.
IoT Analytics (IoTA): Digital transformation is a concept that touches public and private organisations. It involves pursuing business and organisational changes through digital technologies. The Internet of Things is a technological enabler of the digital transformation of organisations. Industry 4.0 is a collection of technological enablers for the digital transformation of the industrial and manufacturing industry. Do you agree with those definitions?
Salvador Herrando: Those definitions are perfectly put. We should add that digital transformation is a strategic objective that must involve the entire organisation having the full alignment of the company management. That is necessary because implementing Industry 4.0 technology means integrating systems and data from the production line, but also from other parts of the organisation and the value chain. The result is that the entire nature of the company and its surroundings will change.
IoTA: Why is all this so significant for industrial companies? Which benefits will the adoption of the IoT bring to the companies and their value chain?
SH: The IoT brings to industrial companies the ability to build a common environment based on common data. That improves the internal life of the factory increasing efficiency and productivity. But the common data can be shared in a controlled and simple way, both with suppliers and customers, improving supply logistics or the knowledge that customers have of the production process, which also has a positive effect on the sales process.
At the base of this vision there is an industrial IoT platform. It is the enabler that integrates and governs the various systems and data. The IoT platform then enables the use of other technologies such as machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI), advanced robotics, apply augmented reality (AR) to their processes in a coordinated manner. That leads to innovation and new business ideas.
IoTA: How does Nexus Integra help industrial companies develop their digital transformation?
SH: Nexus Integra offers an industrial IoT platform that manages the entire process from data capture to data integration and enables the generation of a joint operation environment.
Nexus Integra is a very complete platform. It offers total flexibility when configuring the integration of data from the production system, being possible to incorporate the most relevant industry communication standards seamlessly.
In the same way, external data sources can be also integrated, becoming the actual centre of production data. The real-time analysis engine is then used for designing sets of environment control and analysis. The business intelligence module is then used for the creation of dashboards and advanced data analysis and alarm management as well.
The platform provides an administration system that allows configuration of users, roles, permissions and data sharing.
IoTA: Digital transformation requires several other technological elements in addition to the platform? How do you address those?
SH: We have expertise in the different technologies required in a project, but we prefer to collaborate with our specialised partners. Therefore, we are developing a complete business ecosystem with partners that, with us, can create a complete solution that addresses the needs of industrial companies. In that sense, Nexus Integra has defined a complete partnership programme to provide a complete solution based on our platform that covers all the steps from initial customer needs analysis, to final deployment, configuration and maintenance.
That is because we want to work for guaranteeing high quality performance of the Nexus platform. In the same way, our partner programme also guarantees the best services in specialised aspects such as quality, automation or development of vertical applications over the platform.
IoTA: Can you share with us some successful Industry 4.0 projects you have been involved in?
SH: Nexus Integra has completed several industry projects in different sectors. The main success story is in water management for one of the main water utilities in Spain, Global Omnium. The project was so successful that Global Omnium Group has invested in Nexus and they are now our major technological partner. Linked to that success, Nexus Integra has run projects in the ceramics sector, in automotive and packaging.
IoTA: Can you tell us a bit more about the relationships with Global Omnium?
SH: Since the early 2000s, there has been a continuous effort to automate the use of reserves in the water industry in order to improve efficient use of the water, reducing water system management costs and improving performance. However, Global Omnium ran into two problems in automating the network: the geographical dispersion of its assets; and the lack of integration between the technological solutions used. Therefore, there was a great need of integrating and coordinating systems for creating data streams able to be used at monitoring level and at business intelligence level.
Nexus Integra was selected for addressing those problems. The idea of Nexus Integra was to provide a merged and standardised view of the different process data. This allowed Global Omnium to manage and monitor the status of the different water reserve assets, such as treatment plants, pumps or distribution networks at multiple installations.
Nexus Integra allowed Global Omnium to successfully transform the operations management just deploying one single Control Centre. That manages 300 assets located along 15,000km of distribution network.
But this scenario is not only applicable to the water management sector. Several industrial sectors present the need of integrating and coordinating different systems and data. Nexus Integra can offer a response to that need.
IoTA: Nexus Integra appears to be a leading player in the Spanish Industry 4.0 market? Is there a roadmap for expanding the market footprint outside Spain and what that entails?
SH: We have already started our expansion outside Spain. Currently, we are working on a project in Qatar. We have other projects in the pipeline in the Middle East, in Europe and Latin America.
The experience with Global Omnium has been beneficial. In fact, in the Middle East we are addressing water management problems. We bring our technological expertise, but also our experience in solving water problems.
Finally, we want to strengthen our position in Spain and expand our network of partners. That will also be very useful for our international expansion.
IoTA: There are various technological trends that are affecting digital transformation strategy and Industry 4.0 strategy. AI appears to be one of the most transformative ones. Is Nexus Integra addressing those issues? And, more generally, which innovation strategy is in place to face technological change?
SH: Nexus Integra’s model is to provide a complete platform that make easier the digital transformation for the companies. In that sense, we complete our solution offer with other demanding technologies like AI for advanced analytics and automated decisions based on machine learning or digital twins.
Our strategy is to work with technology partners to provide complete solutions based on a platform that can scale-up easily and in a cost-effective way. We want to focus on the improvement of our platform. Partners can then use the platform to develop value-added applications for different verticals. The Internet of Things creates that common ground on which different systems and information coexist and cooperate.
The IoT platform is the core enabler of that ground on which applications can then be developed. Nexus Integra enables that via its Nexus platform and collaboration with external partners. Continuing on from successful projects in Spain, Nexus Integra is a player to watch in its move to international markets.