From energy efficiency to the 5G campus network. How to do it right. Artur Pollak, PhD, Eng, President of the Management Board of APA Group

From energy efficiency to the 5G campus network. How to do it right. Artur Pollak, PhD, Eng, President of the Management Board of APA Group

We are hearing about another wave of utilities price spikes for companies. Does this mean another year of belt-tightening and media-saving on the part of company boards?

Clearly, rising utility costs are a challenge that all businesses face, regardless of their size or industry. However, rather than seeing this solely as a reason to tighten our belts, in our company we see it as an opportunity to innovate and manage resources more efficiently. When we use a car, we have no control over the price of fuel, but we do have control over how we drive our car: in a fuel-efficient way, or in a wasteful way. Although we do not set the price of energy, we do have an impact on how we use this costly fuel. Experience shows that with the right approach, you can not only minimise costs, but also contribute to both resource and environmental sustainability.

A few years ago, we started to look deeper into what exactly we pay for when the energy bill comes. For us, experts in automation and intelligent systems, it was quite a challenge to understand how suppliers calculate these costs. This analysis revealed that many businesses, like us at the outset, unreflectively pay utility invoices without thinking about optimising consumption.

In response to these observations, we developed the Intelligent Platform for Energy Optimisation (IPOE), which enables businesses to closely monitor and manage their consumption of electricity, water, gas, hot air and other utilities. Thanks to it, some of our partners have seen utility cost reductions of up to 40%. This is made possible by the implementation of professional metering and analytical systems that allow us to accurately track consumption in real time and identify areas for optimisation.

Today, our tool is already operating in the full NAZCA 4.0 ecosystem and is available to a wide range of customers – from large enterprises to small and medium-sized companies, as well as local government units. The introduction of IPOE not only allows for significant cost reductions, but also for the implementation of the ISO 50 001 standard for the continuous improvement of energy management.

We recently completed the installation of our platform in local government buildings in the Silesian Voivodeship, where we started the annual monitoring of the energy efficiency of 27 public buildings. It is a project that perfectly illustrates how effective energy management can bring benefits not only economically, but also environmentally.

Companies often have extensive, decades-old infrastructure. In such a context, how do they assess their readiness to implement the latest technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, multi-sensor data integration and advanced BIG DATA analytics?

Integrating modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data analytics or multi-sensor integrated systems into existing, often long-standing enterprise infrastructures is a challenge that goes beyond the mere question of technology. Clearly, there are huge opportunities ahead, but there are also risks. Technology already offers us the tools to theoretically integrate almost any legacy system with the latest solutions. The problem arises when we look at infrastructure designed for the realities of Industry 3.0, where no provision was made for easy integration with modern internet or network technologies.

The approach we are proposing is that we do not need to immediately carry out a technological revolution across the entire organisation. Instead, we suggest a phased approach, starting with pilot projects. Just as before choosing an ice cream flavour we taste a few samples, in technology we first test the chosen solutions on a small scale. Piloting allows us to gain valuable insight into how new systems work in the realities of our specific infrastructure, revealing areas where we can achieve the greatest benefits.

For example, by implementing an Industrial Internet of Things platform on a selected piece of infrastructure, we gain access to data that had hitherto been inaccessible. Piloting allows us to identify exactly where we are bleeding resources, where we are ‘leaking’ power – whether through sub-optimal energy use, inefficient management or production bottlenecks that reduce the quality of our products.

This approach, which is akin to straining out unwanted elements through ever-smaller meshes of a sieve, allows processes to be gradually optimised without overburdening budgets, even for small businesses. This demonstrates that adapting to new technologies in existing infrastructure is not only possible, but also brings tangible benefits, in both the short and the long term. And let’s not forget that we are currently watching 5G technology enter the Polish market. It will revolutionise all business processes.

What does the launch of next-generation 5G mobile networks mean for Polish business?

One of the main advantages of 5G networks is the ability to eliminate the need to build a traditional wired network infrastructure, resulting in significant savings of time and money. A 5G network also allows new devices to be added to the network easily and quickly. This unlimited scalability, along with high throughput and minimal data latency, opens up new opportunities for applications requiring the rapid transmission and analysis of large data sets in real time.

Last year, in cooperation with Orange Poland, we launched the first 5G university campus network in our country, at the Silesian University of Technology. We regularly hold meetings with managers and engineers there. The experience we have gathered has made us realise how many questions business representatives have about the implementation of campus technology within their own companies – both in terms of potential risks and opportunities that this innovation brings. We have also encountered quite a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation circulating in the public space. In response to these challenges, we decided, together with Orange, to create a comprehensive educational programme aimed at managers and innovators working in companies. Our aim was to provide them with reliable information on how they can integrate 5G-based smart solutions into the structure of their organisations. The result of these activities is the inauguration of the first edition of the 5G Academy, for which participants are currently being recruited. I warmly encourage you to take part – our priority is to impart 100% practical knowledge from experienced technology and business experts, including recognised authorities, and by presenting real-life case studies and tools. We hope that our initiative will contribute to raising awareness in the Polish market of the benefits of 5G networks in a business context.

Artur Pollak, PhD, Eng, President of the Management Board of APA Group, Member of the Programme Council of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Silesian University of Technology and Member of the Management Board of the Polish-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as Member of the Management Board of the Polish Green Construction Association and the Programme Council of the Silesia Automotive & Advanced Manufacturing Cluster.

Last Updated on April 4, 2024 by Anastazja Lach