AVEVA's innovation in action, from patents to the cloud

AVEVA is building a sustainable future, says Chief Product Officer Rob McGreevy, who offers insight on why manufacturers are turning to the cloud

AVEVA is a global leader in industrial software and is trusted by over 90% of the world’s leading industrial enterprises, from food and manufacturing to power, energy, infrastructure and marine. The company helps businesses to gather their data into a living digital twin so that they can drive greater efficiency, performance and improve operational processes. By breaking down silos of information, organisations can make more accurate decisions based on AI-enriched insights. 

Rob McGreevy is the Chief Product Officer at AVEVA, where he leads corporate strategy, product management and business unit teams, to drive innovative software solutions across the business. He has 25 years of experience working in the industrial software business, with a focus on manufacturing and infrastructure. 

“I lead on all things innovation and R&D, including developing AVEVA’s Industrial Metaverse proposition and digital twin technology,” says McGreecy. “Our mission is to empower our customers in this way to drive responsible use of the world’s resources.”

AVEVA's Cloud-Enabled IIaaS aids agility, resilience and sustainability

Industrial Intelligence-as-a-Service (IIaaS) is at the heart of AVEVA’s AI approach. 

“AVEVA uses AI to boost agility, which in the industrial sector is invaluable,” says McGreevy. “Our industrial software solutions are AI-infused, leveraging many types of AI to achieve best-in-class predictive analytics, root-cause analysis, prescriptive actions, forecasting, automated scheduling, improved engineering designs and optimised operations.”

This gives businesses the agility to respond to changing conditions in real time, improve efficiency and energy utilisation, as well as reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.

“For example, Ontario Power Generation is one of the largest clean power producers in North America, including green energy from hydroelectric, solar and wind. During the first 18 months of using AVEVA's AI system, they saved over US$4m, along with significant efficiency gains across 26 hydroelectric units at Niagara Falls.”

The world’s largest player in renewables, ENEL, was able to optimise performance across 20GW and 1,275 assets of power generation using AVEVA’s AI-based industrial software solutions. With all this sophistication, issues can be identified and corrected quickly, well before they have a major impact on operations. This results in less downtime, better product quality, reduced risk and increased overall efficiency and profitability.

“This enhances workforce productivity and improves safety, reliability, quality and security. The cloud-enabled technology even enables remote and cross-site teams to securely share real-time data and analytics together, in context, on a single digital platform. Through efficiency gains and reduced waste, AI is also creating an overall greener environment with enhanced sustainability.”

AVEVA's culture of innovation and adaptation 

AVEVA creates multiple patents each year. McGreevy says the company’s culture of innovation is behind its innovation drive.

“All teams are encouraged to challenge the ‘normal’ approach with new ideas, which can deliver improvements and challenge the status quo. We build time into our development processes to specifically allow for ideation, to research technologies inline and sometimes adjunct, to our work and we host many hackathons across our teams to invite innovation.”

Since this outlook is cultural, McGreevy sees that this tends to drive itself and it makes for a stimulating and more enjoyable environment for the teams. 

“We have a keen eye for novel ideas and a healthy programme for acquiring new patents,” he says.

However, COVID-19 interrupted AVEVA’s culture of innovation. Although it impacted the manufacturing supply chain, the team learned some lessons.

“COVID-19 heavily impacted business. Just-in-time shipping became unstable due to closed ports and a shortage of delivery personnel,” said McGreevy. “Sudden shifts in consumers’ daily lives and priorities caused demand spikes, or erased demand altogether. The pandemic also caused workforce disruptions and the attrition of seasoned operators. With markets remaining volatile, with prices, demand and supply in flux, the industry adapted with a corresponding wave of digitisation across the business world.”

The pandemic forced the industry to adopt and evolve at speed and AVEVA was not left behind.

“The disruption also opened the door to the opportunities of remote access (through secure cloud platforms), the accelerated deployment of digital twins, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and augmented reality (AR),” said McGreevy. “All these innovations sit at the heart of AVEVA’s business strategy.”

AVEVA’s work during the pandemic with the pharmaceutical industry was instructive. 

“We realised that as travel was not an option, one of the world’s largest producers of vaccines, Pfizer needed full oversight of the processes for all their manufacturing sites.”

Using its global historian AVEVA PI system, the company was able to create and implement a data strategy including accelerating production, improving reliability and optimising distribution of life-saving vaccines. Worldwide scientists from different locations would look at the same data in the same format allowing for wider collaboration between sites to maximise the performance.

The manufacturing landscape is facing significant challenges; recessionary headwinds, net zero ambitions, fluctuating energy prices, supply chain disruptions, volatile prices and local talent shortages are just the beginning. 

To address these challenges, manufacturing businesses are turning to the cloud – and cloud-enabled tools, such as IIaaS. 

“IIaaS enables remote and cross-site teams to see and securely share real-time data and analytics with the right colleagues anywhere around the world,” said McGreevy.

Tangible results accrue in the form of businesses’ agility and resilience from maximised IT resources, increased operational efficiency, expanded workforce connectivity and most importantly, sustainability gains. 

“Companies benefit from greater scalability and flexibility while improving operational efficiency and cutting unnecessary costs,” said McGreevy. “The cloud’s game-changing quality is how it supports economies of scale, which in turn, improves sustainability. The technology will drive significant transformation in every industry, sector, and domain over the next five years.”

Looking to the future, AVEVA’s customers can now benefit from precise and swift insights derived from vast data sources – from Cloud software to hardware. 

“These valuable insights can contribute to enhancing operational efficiency and fostering sustainable and efficient operational practices. This collaboration is bringing additional advantages for the next year and beyond, such as enhanced quality and traceability across supply chains for our customers.”

According to McGreevy, the manufacturing and energy sectors stand to gain significant benefits. 

“By leveraging cloud technologies, these sectors can achieve better demand matching, optimise production processes, and achieve substantial reductions in energy, water, and raw material consumption.”

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