|Schneider Electric: Investing in the region |
VERNE BURNETT Thursday, January 5 2017
Schneider Electric has been active in Trinidad and Tobago and the region for years, working through its partner networks helping to promote knowledge about energy efficiency. But now the French multinational is stepping up its investment in the region as well as its efforts to communicate more to the masses “who we are” and how it, along with its partners in the region, can best help them to provide the right solutions for improving their energy efficiency and protecting their all-important critical infrastructure. “I think it is an important time for us to continue these types of investments within the region, basically extending our reach, from a messaging standpoint to these customers to ensure that they are aware of all our abilities,” said Manuel Rodrigues, Schneider Electric’s sales manager for the Caribbean Region.
Schneider Electric SE is a French multinational corporation that specialises in electricity distribution, automation management and produces installation components for energy management. The company describes itself as the global specialist in energy management and automation, claiming revenues of €27 billion in its 2015 financial year, it has more than 160,000 employees at work serving customers in more than 100 countries, helping them to manage their energy and process in ways that are safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable. “From the simplest of switches to complex operational systems, our technology, software and services improve the way our customers manage and automate their operations,” the company said in a statement.
Rodrigues said that Schneider Electric was making significant investments in the region and while he declined to release specific figures, he said the company will continue to do so. He said the company is continuing to improve its service infrastructure capabilities as well as Schneider Electric resources in Trinidad and Tobago and is showing its commitment to this country and the region by recently appointing Sharlene Mangalie as its new Enterprise Territory Manager for Trinidad and Tobago and the English-speaking Caribbean. He said Mangalie would be based in Trinidad and her appointment would allow the company to provide an additional level of support. He said the company had also invested in a Rapid Deployment Centre, which is wholly owned and controlled by Schneider Electric, where it will store critical spare parts that will allow the company to respond more quickly to repair breakdowns on contracted units in the region.
Schneider Electric is a manufacturer of products focused on energy management. “So our solutions focus on the management of energy all the way from the generation point to the end point and everything in between. So we don’t produce energy but we do manage that energy in the most efficient way and really as consultants in this energy management space is looking at the life cycle of energy management for corporations and businesses alike and showing them that we can provide the best case scenario on how to improve their energy efficiency while maintaining the integrity of their infrastructure and installations as well. He said the company already has many clients in this country to whom it provides its services through its partner networks already in place in the region, and hiring Mangalie will assist in supporting its partners from a consultative standpoint. “We really like to take a look from ground zero – ground zero as far as what a company’s infrastructure looks like today, assess that infrastructure and then start working together with them on any improvements.” He said the company also seeks “greenfield opportunities,” in which it consults with a client seeking to design and install a new infrastructure or installation from scratch and work out with them what would be the best approach to do it. He said that in these cases the company approaches such a conversation from a “modular perspective” which is not only the modularity of what Schneider Electric’s technology and solutions could provide, but also modularity from a budgetary standpoint “taking a look at how we can grow together, where you do not need to spend up front all that money to install all that infrastructure supporting your thinking. We may be able to approach it from a global view to divide it over the course of a three year plan as far as growing together, saving you on the capital expenditure spend on year one and also on the operational expenditure year over year and so on.”
He said when the company talks about energy efficiency a lot of times people look at what their power consumption might be from a power perspective but Schneider Electric takes a look at the entire picture, both from a power and a cooling infrastructure perspective, looking at the electrical and the mechanical infrastructure, understanding the inner workings of it and improving the efficiency on
both. “A lot of times people seem to leave cooling out of the equation when in reality cooling solutions can represent upwards of sixty percent of the total power consumption happening within their infrastructure.” He said that in addition, part of the company’s assessment in looking at the environment is to understand what the client’s load is as far as energy consumption and then making sure that the client is designing specifically for that load and preparing for what the future load may hold. “What we find in various environments across the Caribbean and in other parts of the world is that a lot of times people oversize their solutions based on what they expect to need versus what they need. And that oversizing of the solution is also inefficient and not only from a budgetary standpoint but also, more importantly, from an energy consumption standpoint you are probably consuming more than what you should and that’s really where we come in to make sure we take a look at all of that and improve that efficiency as much as possible.”
Early last year, Schneider Electric hosted a Data Centre Initiative Experience Efficiency Event in Trinidad for the first time. The event focused on data centres and created a dialogue about energy consumption, management and efficiency. It dealt with the demand drivers that are forcing change: economic and government rebalancing, urbanisation, digitisation and sustainable resources. “By looking at the latest integrated energy trends and sustainability solutions that will transform how we work, learn and play, Schneider Electric’s event created the ideal platform to discuss and demonstrate efficient energy opportunities. The company said, the world today is data driven; one in which three billion Facebook videos are viewed daily and 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every hour. Behind all of this data are Colocation Data Centres: vast banks of servers that process everything from online videos to financial assets and it takes a lot of energy to process that amount of information. In fact, data centres contribute to two percent of global CO2 emissions. “Our objective was to share information on trends, tools, services and solutions available to customers, that make it easier for them to operate in today’s environment.”
Rodrigues said the experience efficiency event was an opportunity for the company to meet with the top decision makers across the island and this part of the Caribbean and provide them with an inside look at what the company does on a day-to-day consultative standpoint and what it can do to provide its solutions to each of their businesses to really improve that efficiency long term and to reinforce the infrastructure they need to support their business. He said the event focused more on case studies rather than talking about the company’s products themselves so it looked at real life scenarios throughout the Caribbean region that the company had been working on and showing the top decision makers at the conference exactly how Schneider Electric could support them under similar circumstances, taking a look from the assessment standpoint understanding what their current infrastructure looks like, how the company supported the client with multiple options and suggestions in modularity from a budget standpoint as well as design and how it was able to support them from an executive standpoint as well.
Regarding the difficult economic times facing Trinidad and Tobago and the region, Rodrigues said that a company can never walk into a situation only in the good times and expect to truly understand what it was working with and how to improve on it. He said it was important for the company to maintain its presence and show all of the islands throughout the Caribbean zone that it was here to stay through the good times and the bad times and “we will support you exactly the same way no matter what the current economic winds are turning.” He said the company has made the decision to continue in the region and has hired local resources and is putting in additional infrastructure so that it’s customers will see that wholesale support has been preserved and the same goes for the company’s consultative services, adding that by continuing this conversation Schneider Electric believes that it will maintain the confidence of its customers during the downturn and during the upturn as well.
The Schneider Electric team: From left, Manuel Gonzalez, Sharlene Mangalie, Manuel Rodrigues, Hector Martinez.