Name: Peter de Haer
Organization: HAI smart4industries
Works together with ISPT on: the Engineering for Business Intelligence (EBI) project.
It is time to shine a light on our partners. Each are of great value for our open innovation platform. In our series ‘partner in the picture’ we proudly introduce some of our valued partners to you with a short interview about collaboration in the energy transition. For this edition, we spoke to Peter de Haer, CEO at HAI smart4industries. HAI is a leading Dutch technology provider that provides enterprise software to the process industry for real-time process monitoring, control and analysis in the form of Software as a Service based on cloud computing. HAI cooperates with ISPT in the Engineering for Business Intelligence (EBI) project.
Why do you think it is important to contribute to the climate goals with your work?
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Like many of us, I have children and even grandchildren. Then, the protection of the planet for future generations is no longer an abstraction, but becomes a personally felt necessity.
You might well ask how a cloud business software provider can help industry become more sustainable. That requires some explanation. The process industry cannot make their existing process installations sustainable overnight. The transformation to more sustainable production plants takes years and requires substantial investments.
However, significant progress can be made in the existing process installations already by improving the monitoring of the processes: if operators have a real-time insight into the right data, it helps them to make the right decisions in the way they control the process. A good example is a French fries manufacturer where the operators in charge of the oven have a real-time view of the (bio)gas consumption of their line. Together with other measures, this factory now uses 50% less gas than comparable factories.
Data analysis, machine learning and artificial intelligence are also techniques that allow manufacturers to simply produce smarter without having to make major changes to their process installations. Examples include reducing quality issues and product loss, and preventing unnecessary emissions and making better use of production resources, especially raw materials, water and energy. Data technology can be of great help here.
That is why I was so proud when we recently won the global SAS Hackaton with a data science project aimed at reducing CO2 in the process industry. The publicity about this project did help to convince manufacturers how digitization and data science can help them become more sustainable. The interesting thing is that it also directly results in considerable cost savings.
What does the transition need right now? What problem must be solved in order to accelerate?
To make process monitoring and data science work, digitization is a necessary first step. We see that manufacturers often do not know how to go about this. The older generation in the plant management team often has hardly any experience in this field and also lacks a clear vision. As a result, projects are sometimes underestimated or, on the contrary, undertaken on too large a scale. This can be an obstacle to success.
We therefore advocate a phased approach. By deploying digitization in a very targeted way in certain specific domains, the company ensures a quick return on investment. This in turn gives the company the opportunity to take the next step and link up other data sources. That is a controlled approach with a healthy cost-benefit ratio. In this respect, the sharing of knowledge and experience would be very helpful for many companies. In combination with examples of successful projects in this area.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for innovations and to achieve the goals of the Climate Agreement?
Well, then I am thinking mainly of adapting the process installations, choosing sustainable raw materials and supply chains, using renewable energy sources and valorizing waste streams. But as I indicated before: that takes time and money. And we need to take steps right her and now.
Process monitoring and data analysis, however, can be started right away. That means unlocking factory data and using it to work smarter: in real time to support operators, and with data analyses by technologists and the quality department. An investment like this is generally earned back quickly, because operators get a better insight and technologists get a clearer view of opportunities for improvement.
An important driver for digitization and data science is the cloud. By using cloud services, manufacturers keep their costs low and predictable, and have access to the latest technology and data security. This makes digitization accessible to all companies in the process industry.
At the same time, the cloud is a much more sustainable alternative than on premise installations (on-premise software is software that companies install and manage on their own servers). Research by Microsoft shows that moving from local servers and data centers to cloud computing reduces carbon emissions by 72 to 98 per cent. They concluded that cloud-based applications can increase energy efficiencies by up to 93 percent and substantially lower operational costs.
Tell us about your collaboration with ISPT?
A food manufacturer got us in touch with Jeroen Janssen of Radboud University, the project leader of the Engineering Business Intelligence (EBI) project managed by ISPT. Jeroen asked us to make our brand-new cloud software platform available for the implementation of the various use cases submitted by the participating companies in the EBI consortium: these range from measuring the quality of surface water and air quality to developing a measurement method for plastic recycling and reducing gas and electricity consumption in industry. With the HAI cloud platform, the EBI consortium acquired the technology to automatically transfer the required data to the cloud, and then visualize and analyze it from there.
For us at HAI, the partnership with ISPT not only brings interesting projects, but also a valuable enhancement to our partner network. ISPT connects us with partners who have specialized in specific domains relevant to the process industry. Sometimes even using a unique measurement system. These domain expert partners have developed for instance specific applications for energy monitoring, or wastewater measurements. Our cloud platform is a of great value for them. It allows these partners to fully focus on their expertise, while we ensure that their measurement data is stored in the cloud and visualized.
Since our platform also contains other (plant) context data, it is possible to link measurements on, for example, energy consumption or waste water to production and process information. This is how companies get answers to questions like: in which process conditions do we observe peak loads or variations in energy consumption? Or: in which circumstances do we have more pollution in our waste water? That is the beauty of having different parties work together: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts!
What is your dream/where will your company be in 2030?
It is our aim that by 2030 our cloud platform will be widely used within European industry, and that we will be able to offer a range of smart add-ons that help to produce smarter and more sustainably. Obviously, we are not going to develop these add-ons all by ourselves. Our partners and customers play an important role in this. After all: the best results come from cooperation!
More on our Industry 4.0 program