Artwork for podcast The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
Miguel Morales | SoftwareAG and Ty Roberts | Itron
7th June 2024 • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
00:00:00 00:23:57

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Industrial Talk is onsite at DistribuTECH and talking to Miguel Morales, Commercial IoT Lead with Software AG and Ty Roberts, Vice President of Marketing with Itron, Inc. about "Grid Edge - How utilities will manager their distributed energy assets.".  Here are some of the key takeaways from our conversation:
The conversation centered around the importance of collaboration and innovation in the utility industry, particularly in managing distributed assets and leveraging software platforms like Cumulocity. Speakers emphasized the complexity of grid edge technology and the need for leaders to guide the charge towards a more sustainable and efficient future. They also discussed the importance of utilities managing energy demand and infrastructure with smart devices, reducing investments in poles and wires, and changing their relationship with consumers from energy providers to partners in the energy transition.

Action Items

  • [ ] Itron and Software AG will continue collaborating to more quickly connect diverse devices and bring data together
  • [ ] Interested parties can contact Miguel at or Ty at for more information


Grid edge technology and its impact on utilities.

  • Miguel Morales is the commercial lead at cumulocity, IoT part of software. AG.
  • Morales has experience in IoT, including Azure IoT and industrial IoT practice at a fortune 250 industrial startup.
  • Miguel shares their admiration for Itron and experiences working with them.
  • Ty discusses the focus on grid edge technology and utilities managing distributed assets.

Utilizing data to manage energy consumption and infrastructure.

  • Miguel: Consumers want more control over energy consumption, but may lack awareness of available solutions.
  • Scott MacKenzie: Utilities face challenge of providing visibility into diverse range of devices for efficient energy management.
  • Ty: Utilities need to reduce investments in poles and wires by leveraging smart devices and control.
  • Miguel: Cities also need capex for visibility and load management to deliver reliability.
  • Miguel: Utilities can leverage standard cellular network for data collection without additional investment.
  • Ty: Targeted approaches with utilities to mitigate local problems, starting with specific areas of concern.

Utilities' role in energy transition, collaboration, and consumer education.

  • Collaboration necessary for secure, reliable power distribution.
  • Utilities must change relationship with customers by providing proactive insights and value.

Incentivizing consumers to contribute to solving energy problems through positive reinforcement and collaboration between software companies and utilities.

  • Miguel suggests utilities need to incentivize users with positive reinforcement, such as celebrating small wins or saving turtles.
  • Scott MacKenzie agrees, noting that leaders in the utility industry must take the first step towards incentivizing users in a more engaging way.
  • Scott MacKenzie: Collaboration with Software AG for faster data connection and insights.
  • Utilities are being matched with partners for end-to-end solutions, including Itron and Software AG.

Utilizing software to streamline grid edge operations.

  • Miguel compares software development to cooking, using meal kits as an analogy.
  • Ty is optimistic about the show's impact, citing increased customer interest in utilities changing their priorities.
  • Miguel and Ty discuss grid edge technology in utilities with expertise and enthusiasm.
If interested in being on the Industrial Talk show, simply contact us and let's have a quick conversation.
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utilities, miguel, ty, grid, put, data, industrial, Software, working, consumer, scott, good, deploy, day, devices, ag, distribute, number, connect, charge


Scott, welcome to the Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott. MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go all right


once again. Thank you very much for joining Industrial Talk and thank you for your continued support of a platform that is dedicated, dedicated to industrial professionals all around the world. You are bold, brave, you dare greatly, you innovate, you collaborate, you solve problems, and you're making the world a better place. That's why we celebrate you on Industrial Talk, the number one industrial related podcast in the universe, and it's backed up by Dan. Plus we're cool anyway, we are broadcasting live on site right now at distribute tech in Orlando, Florida, and it is a collection of problem solvers all focused on innovative solutions to make the grid and and the power and everything better. Running out of words to say, catching me at the wrong time. Yeah, very good. Two gents are in the hot seat. Miguel, he's new Ty. He's old, so he's been on Ty Itron. That's what, that's what we call. So let's get cracking. Hey guys, doing


well, how are you? Yes, Scott,


good to see you. Always so fun. Like coming home, because the last time we met in person was what two years ago


it was, it was the first DTech post pandemic. It was one


attempt to be there. Yeah, I hear the numbers are fantastic. They are two, sort of like pre pandemic levels, exactly.


I love this show. I feel like it's the right size. It's large, so everybody's here, but it's not so large that you don't have time to talk to.


Yeah, there's some boots that are just buzzing. I feel like I'm missing out on some stuff I haven't had a chance to get to. Scott Well, I am kind of a big deal. Yes, I am. Right for the listeners, we're gonna start with a level set. You don't have to do a tie because you're you're an salty dog, but Miguel, you're not. So give us a little background on who Miguel is. Yeah,


certainly. So Miguel Morales, I'm with the commercial lead at cumulocity, IoT, part of Software. AG, was


just getting ready. I'm going, Yeah, but your budget says Software AG, what's this cumulosity? Yeah.


So cumulosity is the IoT platform, the IoT business unit within the broader Software. Ag, and I've been doing IoT a long time. Was it Azure? IoT for four years prior, ran out in an industrial IoT practice at a fortune 250 industrial startup embedded system. So we've been connecting things a long time. I've actually been working with with Itron a long time. My first job, coming out of college was working for this little chip called MSP 430 that was specialized in metering. So I've had a lot of admiration and respect for Itron for a long time, and I've worked with them in various different capacities. So I'm very happy to have this opportunity to be working together recently here on behalf of


your blown smoker. And he's just great to live, how what he does with his hair. So for that and Ty, we spoke a number of years. A couple years back, you've been on the podcast, we did a webinar, take us through what you some of the changes that you've seen as a result this conference. I mean, it's blistering fast. I don't know how you guys keep up with this, so take us through a little bit




See, I don't, I don't know how you I just, I can't put the numbers. I just don't, I just don't know how that works, because it's, I see the physical component associated you've got to build it. Something's got to be built. It's not, it's not fluff. It has to be built. And that to me is money, yes. And that to me is, you know, you're going to have to ask certain people to pay money, yes, and, and I'm not there. I.


Don't want to pay money. Scott


I'm Scottish. Doc, got it.


I think consumers are more interested in these devices, though, they're a little bit more conscious about, you know, these changes cool to the great. I mean, I live in, I live in Texas, and we're very conscious about the


state, because you're in Itron special,


yeah. I mean, you get solar system, you get solar system, or you get solar power because you want to contribute to the problem, you want to contribute to the environment, or whatever. But I think the average consumer is starting to buy more things, whether it's an electric vehicle or solar grid, that have the opportunity to either contribute back to your home, to the grid, and all these different endpoints have such a diversity of different types of electronics. So the problem the utilities in the smart city space is I have all these different types of devices that I need visibility to. So how do I collect a solution or a group of solutions? It gives me enough visibility to make the right decisions. And I think that that's really,


are you asking me, Scott consumer typical, little lazy on the old side. But if, if you're asking Scott to do more, to be more insightful into the my my consumption patterns and what I do, I'm just not, there other people can, but I'm just, I'm just, you know, send me a bill, make sure my lights don't flicker, and I'm good to go.


Oh, absolutely, okay. No, I don't think you necessarily putting


me on the defensive. You don't have


to be more more conscious. You can literally just say, hey, I want to make sure that your stuff stays on right. As long as you hook me up to Wi Fi, then the companies who make those products are independently able to collaborate with the with the grid and with the utilities to handle that for you and work on the reliability side of things. All we need you to do is help, you know, connect. God, I got your goal,


Yeah, but you're everyone, not just Scott wants to do nothing and still have to pay less money,


right? More. There's a lot of money. There is.


Most of us are like that. So which is the challenge that utilities face, right? But you're absolutely right. When you talk about demand increases the way they are, it's going to be, there's going to be poles and wires that you have to invest in as utility first. And that's, of course, capital money, which means going back to the rate. Going back to the rate base and saying, I need more from you guys. But what we're trying to do, I think what the real opportunity is, and why connecting devices and being able to control and manage them is so important is because we're trying to reduce the amount of poles and wires you have to put in to solve that problem, especially in the near term, because there's just so much that we can do if, if the if the the homeowner us, are willing to give up a little bit of control over when we're going to charge our electric vehicle, for example, or when we're going to say, I'm going to push electricity back onto the grid from my power wall that I've got, if you can sit tell the utility, I'll let you guys do some control there, as Long as I wake up in the morning and my car is 80% charged, you can charge it whenever you want, between 6pm and 6am then that allows the utility to, you know, they can get at least 20% more capacity out of the poles and wires that they have today. So deferring some of those investments and decreasing some of those investments and polls and wires that you have to do because this problem is on top of us right now. If you've got in a particular neighborhood, you've got two or three EVs plugging in and charging at the same time, you're going to be overloading a transformer that wasn't rated for this when it was installed 15 years ago. So it's a real challenge in pockets today.


So really, it's a matter of trying to create the greatest level of efficiency, and having that, that insight to be able to achieve that, is that, right, Miguel, is that what we're talking about, where I'm gonna, I, I've gotta, I've gotta remove the inefficiencies as much as I can before I, you know, lock and load, maybe some, some capex type of, you know, build outs, whatever it might be. Is that what we're talking about, and that's data.


It's not. It's not just the consumers, too. You know that it's it's also a question of, like the cities, how much capex do they have to deploy in order to gain that visibility so that they can manage that they can manage the load and deliver reliability. One of the things that we've been working on lately is support for a protocol, lightweight m to m,


hold a whole slow down balcony. What did you just say? Despite


weight M to M uses the standard cellular network, and it's a protocol over standard cellular that doesn't require other networks to be deployed to have visibility into any number of assets, whether it's street lights or meters, and it makes it easier for municipalities to take advantage of that data without having to invest additional dollars. They can just leverage standard cellular data. Yeah, it just


seems to me that you want to be able to get to the point where you are at least collecting the data that is relevant to your operations, which then begs the question, Ty, i. Um, there's a lot of assets that exist out there today that you're going to have to have a plan of attack to be able to say, Okay, that's a smart meter. Let's start pulling some data, different data, or whatever it might be, whatever the strategy might be, you got to be able to start doing that. Well, yesterday,


in fact, exactly right. And a part of the challenge that utilities have, and that we have as a vendor to utilities of innovative solutions is we can't cut it and say you've got to rip and replace everything you've already put in the ground that cost you hundreds of millions of dollars to put in the ground tomorrow in order to get to the next stage and be able to do some of these, to get the insights into the edge of the grid that you need to get so like as Miguel saying, being able to you have to be able to pick some spots and deploy the appropriate sensors, the appropriate control devices, intermixed with all of the, you know, the smart meters and the smart devices you have today, to start giving you some target benefits here and then easing our way into deploying increasingly more devices to be able to solve the problem, you know, holistically, across the utilities entire service territory, but the problems are really coming up locally first. So we're trying to take targeted approaches with our utilities, and say you don't have to make a massive investment to start with here, if you've just deployed your Smart Metering solution, for example, let's pick pockets, and that's where do you have troubles today, and let's mitigate those first.


See, I like that incremental approach because I can a lot of the conversations that I've had so far at at this event is, you know, it's way above my pay grade, and it's, it's me being the the old utility lineman that I was, and I like, there's a power generation, and there's transmission, there's just, I can see that linear, you know, I see it. But then all of a sudden you start talking about distributive energy, and all of the I got to plug my, you know, car in, and that's going to create that. And if I was a system operator, I can't make the decision fast enough to match the mine. And again, I think that if, if we don't do it right, we don't and things start flickering, and power goes out. And I know people from ERCOT, they were pretty upset with the power being out, because they should, because we're down in Louisiana, and that was, we had a hurricane, but, but that, that cry happens fast. It


does no and it's not easy to do it right, you know, it's, it's not


come on. It's okay for me to say


that nothing the infrastructure is certainly expensive, and like the level of investment required is significant. But when you talk about connecting all this diversity of devices, you want to make sure that you're doing it securely, right. You want to make sure, oh, yeah, you're doing it in a way that that is reliable, that doesn't break when it reaches, you know, a higher scale than expected. And those types of problems are tricky ones where, you know, you need partners to collaborate and come together and solve those things together.


You know, Miguel, I think you bring up a good point. I think that this is a, this is a challenge that really demands collaboration. I don't think, I don't think companies who are operating in a vacuum can see the whole picture. And it is. It's just a collaboration type of thing. How do you tie this is to you? How do you, how do you educate the consumer? I mean, this is, this is going to eventually be a little bit more in it, and I'm already overwhelmed with AI


that'll be next show. But how do we do that? It's a fabulous question, and that's, that's the biggest challenges for utilities today. And I think the way, the way many of our customers as utilities are now thinking about that is having to change a relationship with their and with us, within customers right now. Because right now, like you've said before, if the power is on, then you don't think about your utility. If the power is off, then they're enemy number one. So being able to put smart devices in the field that really tell you something interesting or useful that the consumer can either take action on or knows I can actually I can improve my life, or I can lower my bill if I do something, if my utility is telling me that proactively, this is how you have to start changing that relationship. So, so, so deploying smart systems, smart solutions, smart devices that that really provide insights for the consumer and the utility, getting ahead of the curve and telling them, here's something that might be happening, or here's something that I'm going to give you a warning that something may be happening. I'm going to tell you about something you can do something about proactively and pay less money, or be safer or be more comfortable, something to that effect. That's how they begin changing the relationship, because they're going to need to develop that partner relationship with them going forward. Because, as we were talking about, it's the homeowner who owns the EV and decides when they charge it. The utility has to develop that trusted relationship for them to change that, to become a partner in the energy transition.


I just want to jump in a bit. I feel like you almost need, like to train the consumer with positive reinforcements. You have to right, like my ad needs to tell me that I saved $20 today or the last three days because I've plugged into EV at some other time and give me points and, you know, explode confetti on the screen. I can, over time, develop that a positive association with contributing to the data and and contributing to solving the problem, which is ultimately a pretty serious problem to scale. It


seems to me, it's a it's also a leadership, because there's culturally their utilities are. They're all different in some way, shape or form, but they still are very proud of delivering power in a safe and clean and whatever manner, right? That's but. But it would require a leader or collection of leaders in the utility to say, to begin that journey, let's do this. Let's, let's, let's bloody our nose a little bit and be able to provide a way of incentivizing the user community. Agree with that, absolutely.


I mean, I think that it's funny, because a lot of the incentives like exist very smart people are thinking, how you structure electricity to motivate people to behave a certain way. But I feel like, for some reason, it's not quite landing to the users. You know, it's not like, as in their face that they're doing when they do something good. It could be, could be more, and you need really good data to do that. You need connected devices to show them what that is. But at the end of the day, I think we just need to be like, celebrated more, and make it more visible when they open their phone or whatever, and you got a free copy? Yeah, maybe it's a free copy. Or even if it's just something more than like, like, I connect to my solar app these days and I just see, like, power flowing in the circuit. And it has some statistics, but it doesn't tell me what I saved. It didn't tell me how many turtles I've saved, or bottles, anything, you know, like, I want more. I want something exciting about how good I'm being when I contribute to the problem.


You need that stroking. Good job.


So when my dog goes,


Look at you, how does Software? AG, work with Itron and iron with Software? AG,


well, I think. And you said it a couple of times, which is great, because we, no company, can solve these challenges alone. Yeah, that's absolutely the case. I think, where I'm excited about the collaboration between Software AG, and Itron as Itron, we've realized, you know, our expertise has traditionally been in providing, you know, depth of capability from a smart metering perspective, making the meters ever smarter, putting Software environments that can run applications inside of them, like a phone. But we also we have to be able to connect a lot more different types of sensors from different folks, not just Itron, so a whole sort of an ecosystem of different solutions that we sort of bring together all the data together to create new value and to let our customers understand what's happening, you know, in their network, on their grid, with all these other inputs doing longer, including weather and, you know, flood sensing and whatever else, air quality, so that they have enough information for the big AI engines of the of the now to be able to help them autonomously manage their grid to a much greater degree than they had before. And that's where Software AG is really strong. Is being able to, we're working with them to be able to connect more kinds of devices faster, bring them to market faster, bring the data in faster. That's where, that's where Software AG has been focused. So, so that's a great collaboration between between us. We have to be able to do that together. Then we have to be able to work with, with partners on the other side who are consuming all of this data and creating other value. We all have just as an industry, we have to be working together end to end. And we see our customers, utilities are really matchmaking and putting us together to a much greater degree than we have in the


put our assets in back in the:


It is absolutely and, you know, from from a Software agency standpoint, we we sort of follow a bit of a food analogy sometimes, and depending on who you talk to, it's a different food, you know. But I think about some of those meal kits, and I would say, you can create your own meal from scratch. You can grow your own herbs, if you want, and come down and make your own pesto and grow the wheat and turn that into or you can receive a meal kit that has most of the elements ready to go. Perhaps you just have to chop it. It includes a sauce. At the end of the day, you still need a chef that's going to make a delicious meal for the guests in question and for us, we are the meal kit Software, AG, the cumulosity. It platform has all kinds of connectivity. It does. Securely. It scales. It's proven, and at the end of the day, Itron makes that delicious solution the utilities want to consume when they sit down and eat the food. And so we make it easier to get there. We reduce we reduce the time and complexity to get there, and in a way that's supportive of the protocols relevant to the industry.


the first one I've done over:


interviewed Ricky before? He always talks about a hamburger.


Did you before? I've heard it before.


It's pretty good there's


a great hot dog at Sam's Club. There's hot dogs are great. Yeah,


it's good value.


It's good value. I don't have to pay much, exactly. So with all that said, tie it up. That was an accident. I didn't mean to do that, but let's put it in a bow and and do you, are you optimistic it has to happen? But are you bullish in saying we're going to be able to do this? Yes,


absolutely. And I'm bullish by nature, but it's it's been this show has been really exciting in that regard, because we, the number of our customers, utilities that I've talked to, who get this entirely and who are changing their organization, restructuring and changing what they think and what they're prioritizing. It's happening. You see that I don't have to curl up in a ball? No, you don't. Don't curl up in the ball.


Innovation is a practice in optimism at the end of the day, and I think there's a lot of innovative people here in this


community. Did you bring the food analogy and then you bring that wisdom? I don't know. Man, you made me a better podcaster. Big time. I like it. If this whole thing with you know, Ty and Nitron doesn't work out, you've got a future here. All right, how do people get a hold of you guys? Starting with you. Miguel, just hit


me up on my email. We'd love to chat, but you're on your LinkedIn Yeah, you're


a LinkedIn guy, yeah, right. Ty's a LinkedIn guy. I


am absolutely and


Miguel, dot Morales at Software agency.


You did, you did well, Ricky would be proud. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Ty. Thank you. All right, we're gonna have all the conference contact information for these two gents out on Industrial Talk. So connect you have to. It's a collaboration game. Find out more. It's just, it's easy. Just click on that link. All right, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side. Thank you very much for joining us at distribute tech. We will be right back.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


Tom Miguel and Ty did not disappoint. Absolutely spectacular conversation. Grid edge. It's just happening in a utility environment. There's just so much happening. And for me, personally, I'm glad that there's Miguel and Ty and others who are leading this charge, just because it's pretty complex. But they are absolutely up for the task. That's what they're all about. As you could tell, they know what they're doing. They're so glad that they know that what they're doing all right. Industrial Talk is a platform for other podcasts. Industrial podcasts, it is specifically designed for that you have a podcast, you have an industrial specific podcast. You need to be on Industrial Talk because you want to educate. You want to collaborate, you want to innovate, and that this is the ecosystem to do that. So keep that in mind. Be bold, be brave. Dare greatly hang out with Miguel and Ty. Change the world. We're going to have another great conversation shortly. So stay tuned. You.



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