Our desire is to co-create with our customers – Interview with Hitachi Energy at IEEE PES T&D 2022
USA, New Orleans: Transformers Magazine brings an interview with a trio of experts from Hitachi Energy, held at IEEE PES T&D Conference and Exposition, which took place in New Orleans 25-28 April 2022.
In this interview, Transformers Magazine presents Anthony Allard, Executive Vice President of Hitachi Energy for North America, Eric Mercer, Manager of Application Engineering for North America, and Sean Campbell, Application Engineer for digital (TXpert) portfolio in North America.
Mr. Allard, we are here at IEEE T&D show in New Orleans. What is your opinion on what goes around on the show after the two years of pandemic, since it is the first big show after a long time? What is your outlook on what you see here?
It is really exciting to be at IEEE after a pause of three years. It is really good to meet people face to face in such an environment. We see a really high level of attendance, which is extremely encouraging for us. It is an excellent opportunity to meet customers face to face, reconnect with the team and also showcase some of our latest innovations.
Now, we all know and it has been in the news that there was a merger between ABB and Hitachi, Hitachi has acquired a part of the business. What have been your expectations regarding the performance versus the results?
The joint venture between ABB and Hitachi was done in July 2020, closely two years ago now. We have gone through a process of rebranding, so now we are known as Hitachi Energy, which is a joint venture between the two partners. We are really well down the road of the creation and integration within the joint venture. I think we have already gone a long way since July 2020 and we have done a really good job in creating a lot of synergies. Now we are starting to see a positive impact and it is really exciting for our customers because we are now in a better position then ever in terms of supporting our customers in their advancement to a more sustainable future. We are starting to bring a number of new solutions to the market that are coming from merging the knowledge and history and capabilities of both what used to be ABB and of Hitachi. So, bringing together the OT and IT capabilities, we are now placing forward some solutions I believe are extremely useful and will really accelerate the energy transition for some of our customers.
Mr. Mercer, regarding the new products, introduction of new technology, is there anything you would like to introduce to the readers and the public about what the company is doing?
Absolutely, listening to our customers over the recent years, the efforts to decarbonise, their footprints, have really come to the forefront. What we are doing to support our customers on the journey is to assemble our products in a new and more advanced, more sustainable way. We have rolled out the EconiQ™ portfolio of transformers that really focuses on a number of key elements. The first one is what we do as a manufacturer. Many of our facilities in North America are naturally fossil-free, either being fed by hydro or nuclear. In addition to that, we also participate in the open market for renewable energy certificates. We purchase those as an assertion that we are committed to a clean energy future. Additionally, we offer flexibility in how we design efficiency into our transformers to help reduce losses associated with transformers, thus reducing our customers’ overall footprint. We focus on responsible sourcing of material to support our products but beyond that, we are adding people in our environmental functional areas to focus on lifecycle analysis. That way our customers can actually quantify what the carbon footprint of our product really is. We are also developing advisory services for the disassembly of those assets at the end of their useful life. So, we are delivering the full package, not just the product. Finally, anything that is associated with the lifecycle of that product demonstrates sustainability and allows our customers to achieve a more sustainable future.
Mr Campbell, please tell us a few words about the digitisation of transformers and the value it holds for your customers.
Yes, our digital portfolio is called TXpert Ecosystem™. TXpert’s ultimate goal is to enable customers ultimately to do more with the assets they have, maximise capital expenditure and particularly the use of their power transformers, as well as to minimise their ONEM costs. So, TXpert portfolio is intended to do both, firstly by acquiring health data and use metrics of transformers themselves, also helping the organisation to maintain those transformers over time. One can conclude that if a particular customer of ours is utilising TXpert platform, their personnel have a higher degree of force multiplication, they are out in the field. There is also less ONEM personnel out in the field performing maintenance on the transformers, while the TXpert platform itself will provide further information on how to proceed. The idea of TXpert is contained in its name, transformer plus expert. It is a monitoring system for transformers but also produces expert services in the backend. It is not just a small device we install on a transformer to witness the health and the use status of a transformer but also to suggest actionable intelligence on how to proceed with the maintenance requirement.
Mr. Allard, everyone is seeing supply chain issues globally. What is Hitachi Energy doing to counteract or work around these issues?
We have all read the news about the disruption in the supply chain, I believe. I will give two examples of action that we have been able to take successfully. The one is, being the largest manufacturer of transformers in the world, we have an advantage of the scale, which has really helped us in our communication with the suppliers. The second one is, being a global supplier, we have been able to leverage our global footprint really well, try to come up with some solutions to support our customers in the best possible way. Those are two examples of what we have done in trying to mitigate the impact of the supply chain disruption on our customers.
Lastly, Mr. Mercer, is there anything that we have not mentioned and you would like our readers to know about Hitachi in addition to the performance and acquisition?
Of course, the thing we would really like to point out about our positioning as Hitachi Energy is our desire and willingness to co-create with our customer base. Rather than positioning ourselves simply as a supplier of equipment and services, we want to be able to walk alongside the customer as they begin identifying their challenges and problems for tomorrow, which need to be solved. We want to do that through co-creation. This includes sharing of ideas and technology and developing the solutions that we will need for the future.