Francisco Bernabeu has extensive experience in promoting innovative projects focused on Industry 4.0 and IoT (Internet of Things). He currently operates on three main fronts to provide technology as an opportunity for different organisations: cybersecurity, integrations for Industry 4.0 and technological solutions for the digital transformation of companies and administrations.
Bernabeu is working on a project for one of the world's leading water companies, Sabesp. The company operates in the state of São Paulo in 368 municipalities serving approximately 27 million people, providing 98% of treated water and 75% of collected and treated wastewater. The goal of the company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is to universalise sanitation in operated and new municipalities with 100% of treated water and 95% of collected and treated wastewater by 2030.
What is your assessment and vision of the sanitation and supply situation in Brazil?
Worrying due to possible changes in the regulatory framework and the performance of the National Water Agency (ANA), as privatisation of sanitation does not achieve adequate speed to meet universalisation targets.
Water is a finite commodity and projections for growth in consumer demand suggest that it will increase steadily, is the sector technologically prepared to cope?
Sanitation companies are still in an evolutionary process towards the concepts of automation and individualised metering, but they are driving projects that seek to accelerate the digital transformation of operational processes through disruptive and value-adding technologies.
What are the benefits of implementing integrated automation, telemetry and analytics solutions in a supply network?
There are several benefits, but I would highlight the effective management of the operation, quality assurance, energy efficiency, loss reduction, effective control of losses in the water network and in the customer and/or consumer, agility in solving problems in the event of a lack of supply, incidents in the network, improved customer satisfaction and the company's image.
From your experience and involvement with the company, what would you say are Sabesp's main objectives?
The main challenges would be universalisation and addressing the legal framework for sanitation. There is no doubt that the use of technology is a fundamental aspect and competitive differential for an excellent management of the water cycle.
Sanitation companies are driving projects that seek to accelerate the digital transformation of operational processes through disruptive and value-adding technologies.
Sabesp has made a commitment to the future of Sao Paulo's citizens by incorporating Elliot Water into its management. How did you identify the need to implement a smart grid?
The solution was implemented for the smart sanitation (sanitation 4.0) in the Capivari / Jundiaí Business Unit, which serves 13 municipalities and supplies more than 400 thousand people. This implementation was necessary to improve the management of the integral water cycle, in all its stages in the process of transforming raw water into treated water; the reservoir for supply and distribution. Thus, through the sensors distributed in the network of this production chain, an improvement in operational services, the reduction of water losses, energy efficiency and customer satisfaction was obtained.
How has water management changed since the implementation of this technological solution?
The implemented solution has now become a reference at Sabesp and it intends to extend the solution to all its business units over the next 5 years.
It is clear that the company promotes sustainability as one of its strategic areas. Along these lines, why would you tell another organisation that it is necessary to invest in the digitalisation of water?
More and more solutions developed for basic sanitation require Information Technology to be an integral and complementary part, allowing the company to remain competitive in the market and to meet the requirements of regulatory bodies and municipalities.
Through sensors distributed throughout the water network, Elliot Water has enabled improved operational services, leakage reduction, energy efficiency and customer satisfaction.
What challenges does the sector face in relation to the application of technology to the management of the full water cycle?
The main challenges are undoubtedly the lack of investment and operational processes; obsolete equipment, lack of connectivity, disaggregated performance between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT), lack of standards and norms specific to the sanitation sector and standardisation of automation solutions.
How do you see the management of the full water cycle from a digital perspective in the medium-term future?
I see that investments in automated solutions for consumption measurement, automation in water and sewage treatment, and telemetry in the networks will be boosted in all sanitation companies as a way to meet the requirements set by regulatory bodies, such as the sanitation framework, as well as the demands of the municipalities, for the services provided, for the availability and quality of water for the population.