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Felipe Gomez and John Smerkar with Hitachi Digital Services
8th March 2024 • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
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On this episode of Industrial Talk, we're onsite at DistribuTech and chatting with Felipe Gomez and John Smerkar with Hitachi Digital Services about Deploying smart spaces and video insights to provide clarity into operational conditions.  Here are the key takeaways:
  • Industrial innovations and problem-solving. 0:04
    • Scott MacKenzie interviews John and Felipe from Hitachi Digital Services, discussing problem-solving innovations in Orlando, Florida.
  • Using cameras to monitor infrastructure health in utility substations. 1:27
    • Filipe starts by sharing his background in the surveillance industry, mentioning he's been working in the field for 20+ years and has seen significant changes over time.
    • John, the Global Director of Marketing for Smart Spaces and Video Intelligence, joins the conversation and explains why Hitachi is at Distributech, highlighting their focus on IoT strategy and marketing for industrial technology companies.
    • The Panel discusses the company's intelligent infrastructure monitoring solution for utility substations, using cameras and sensors to assess infrastructure health remotely.
    • Scott MacKenzie asks The Panel to walk through the process of identifying the best locations for cameras and assessing substation value, and Speaker 3 explains the process in detail.
  • Using cameras for substation inspection and data analysis. 6:53
    • The Panel discusses the importance of angles and field of view in camera placement for substation inspection, using a checklist of assets and points of interest to guide the process.
    • The Panel explains how cameras can be used to monitor the general condition of assets, including the use of gauges and other tools to validate the camera's view.
    • The Panel suggests using automated alerts and notifications based on data from sensors and SCADA systems to detect potential issues with infrastructure and equipment before they become major problems.
    • The Panel explains that their system has a database of collected data that can be imported into asset performance management or enterprise asset management systems for better predictions and more reliable results.
  • Utilizing AI for predictive maintenance in energy and utilities. 11:43
    • The Panel discusses the importance of real-time data and historical data integration for predictive maintenance, highlighting the need for automated alerts and notifications to address potential issues before they become major problems.
    • Scott MacKenzie asks Felipe where he sees the technology going in the future, with a focus on the potential for massive revenue loss and regulatory challenges.
  • Using AI for power grid monitoring and maintenance. 14:06
    • Analyzing audio data to detect issues with transformers, including partial discharge and corona effect, using AI and sensors.
  • Optimizing infrastructure maintenance with AI and digital services. 15:47
    • MacKenzie and The Panel discuss optimizing patrol routes using visual capabilities to direct resources to critical areas, reducing waste.
    • The Panel highlights the importance of addressing the dwindling workforce and the need for efficient training methods in the industry.
  • Digital solutions and innovation in the industrial sector. 18:56
    • Felipe and John from Hitachi Digital Services discuss their company's evolution and growth, including becoming an independent legal entity and expanding into new areas such as IoT and ERP.
    • They encourage listeners to reach out to them on LinkedIn for more information and to stay tuned for upcoming content on industrial talk.
If interested in being on the Industrial Talk show, simply contact us and let's have a quick conversation. Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Marketing Process Course” for Greater Success in 2024. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!


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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 Alright,


once again, it's time that you join Industrial Talk, the number one industrial related podcast in the universe that celebrates industry professionals all around the world, you are bold, you are brave, you dare greatly you innovate, you collaborate, you solve problems. And therefore you are making this world a better place. We are broadcasting on site right here, DistribuTech, Orlando, Florida is the location. And it is a collection of problem solvers everywhere. I've been stuck in the salt mine. So I haven't had a chance to go around and look at all of the incredible solutions, the innovations that exist out there. And speaking of innovations, we have two in the hot seat two in the hot seat. John and Felipe the Tachi digital services is the organization. And we're going to talk about what they do best. And that is solving problems. Let's get cracking. There. Are you guys doing? Doing great, good conference?


Yes. Quick.


Nothing fancy. It's always fancy 17,000 Plus, I


hear. That's what I heard too. I heard it was a 15,000. Plus, well,


I just had the organizer. Come on by and she said 17,000? I said, Yes, of course I don't see it because I'm stuck in the salt mine. So I don't know, I guess I get some foot traffic. But for the most part, it's it's easy going. All right. For the listeners out there. Let's start with a little introduction. Felipe starting with you, give us a little background on who you are.


So I have been working in the surveillance industry for 20 plus years, solving problems with video. So we apply these concepts of video in the in the in the industry. So we apply video analytics, use thermal cameras, Raiders, lighters in order sensors, we collect information from multiple sources. And we give data to our customers that help them improve their reliability, their efficiency. So issues with health and safety, security intrusion.


You've seen a lot of changes. I mean, what was happening 20 years ago is not happening. I can only imagine the changes.


cameras. Today, we talk about:


And the price point is definitely within reason. Of course. Yeah, it has to be. Alright, John, background.


So I'm the Global Director of Marketing for Smart Spaces and Video Intelligence as well as IoT. And Hitachi. My, my background has been working with multiple blue chip companies around IoT strategy and marketing. We have global companies within industrial technology specifically, same sort of deal. Same deal.


All right. So for the listeners, let's let's talk about the topic here that we have. John, take us through what is on your top of mind and why Hitachi is here at DistribuTech.


t we could have anywhere from:


Take us fully through the process of let's use a an example of a substation when you're working with a client, and we're trying to identify the best location for the cameras and all of the stuff that is necessary to properly assess the value of of that substation. Do you work through that with with me? And say, No, it? You know, I just look at angles?


ow, if you think about in the:


In in the world of let's say thermal scanning, when a part of the asset, I guess, condition monitoring component, John, I want to be able to use the camera in such a way that I can see certain conditions have that asset in some way, shape or form, not just the not just zooming in on the meter or whatever that might be. But even more holistically, just sort of the general condition. And there's there. Can those cameras do that?


Yes, so the cameras could do a couple of things. So whether we have if they do something like the the gauges, the gauges, we can apply. The camera could do that automatic, we could determine if it goes beyond or below a certain threshold. And it could form some type of alert and notification saying that the gauge is reading X amount or below a certain amount. That's that but then when they go to do the regular inspection holistically, and they look at these pieces of infrastructure, and they look at these pieces of equipment, they could just do a physical inspection, just like a person who's standing there and determine, you know, is that one in rough shape or is it in good shape? And if it's in rough shape, that's something where they could look at it and say if we're going to roll a truck out that week to go in that particular area. You know, this is the pieces of equipment that we shouldn't look at the most.


So here we are. We're we've we've got it all we do We we've got the surveillance solution. And I'm using the substation again, as an example, surveillance solution in place. But there's a lot more data that is being collected as from those assets as well, that are not a part of the visual solution. Or they might just be as a result of some device pulling the data off of some assets. Do you take in sort of this do you? Do you take in sort of normalize that data with the visual data and sort of overlap it so that you get you get other data sources? With the visual representation too, as well?


Yes, so these telemetry that you're talking about the the SCADA system, the OT systems, they exist on their own, we tend to have the cameras on a different network, it network, just because your which has been in video, we don't talk to the same type of devices. So but there will be a database that we have in our system, where we have all the data that we have collected, in that data is accessible to your asset performance management, or your enterprise asset money management monitor. And they can take all the data that we have collected in and import that into their systems in like you said, normalize it in, you know, make your model your vehicle to you know, your asset Allah. Better, like you have more data, right. So you will be able to have better predictions more reliability.


Yeah, I, you know, go ahead.


I think I think that's, that's really the crux of, you know, it ot integration. Yeah, no, and going forward into the future and actually making that shift from reactive to predictive, yeah, is taking all these various pieces of data from it, and OT systems, normalizing them, and then being able to do something with that data. And going forward into the future. I think that's where everybody's going. And that's where we're heading for sure, is really telling that story, the broader story of real time data and historical data, both from it and OT sources.


Is it is it? Does the capability of surveillance, allow some some parameters, some ability to just say, I'm gonna alert? And I think, I think, Felipe, you mentioned or somebody mentioned, where I can look at a dot, I can look at a meter, whatever, whatever it is, it could be an analog, and it's within the right thing. But does the solution allowed to say, I've got some sort of smarts up here. And that meter is not in the right, it's not in not correct.


That exist, that doesn't exist. And so again, when you think about some type of gate will say, if it drops below or above a certain threshold, we could set up automated alerts or notifications, stating that this piece of equipment in gauge is reading XML, therefore, you should go out there and check it, especially if it's something that's below or above a certain amount where it can cause some type of damage. Because that's, that's the kind of again, the point of being able to save on your operational costs, and also your capital costs. If you could address a problem before it becomes a fault in some type of way, in most cases, that's cheaper than waiting for it to fail. And that is a massive capital expenditure.


That's cheaper. You don't want to you don't want a catastrophic type of failure, especially when it is in the world of energy and utilities, you know, you lose a transformer, you're not going to run to Home Depot to pick up a transformer for a substation, you're just not.


And that's, that's a massive revenue loss.


So these utility companies, and and the regulatory agencies don't like it. And so that's also a pain. So with all that said, with all that wonderful innovation in that technology, Felipe, where do you see it going? What's sort of what's that next? Just put your future hat on, talk to us


about that. So today, we can do a lot of analog gauges in counters and meters, we can transform metal or convert them into digital data. We can do thermal analysis, we're working on adding other types of analysis for example, monitoring the fans on the transformers, like fans will be on or off, depending on if the test is performing needs to be cooled down. But sometimes the wind is moving them so we need to be able to determine if they're moving because they're on or is just the wind moving them right. We're also looking at vegetation. We're looking at the grounding rods and running cables. We're looking at the bushings failed, so if they have any obstructions, any damages in the corrosion, anything that you know is visible that we can tell There's a need for maintenance. There is also a way to detect the partial discharge the corona effect. Yep. So we can also bring those sensors, those are UV sensors that can give us that information. We have LiDAR, sensors, radar sensors. So more AI in like, like I said at the beginning, like, AI is the key. So the images that we collect are the basis so we can build more use cases, we can do intrusion detection, health and safety, license plate recognition, face recognition, we can even do a motion detection, if we need it, like so many. If you can see it, we can somehow quantify it with AI.


I think John, you brought this up. That's, that's spot on Felipe. Because I think there's just so much more that can be applied with that visual capability. But to your point, I know that you can't have with all of the substations out there with all of the assets that exist out there with with everything. I was on patrol, and so we would patrol and we would physically patrol. And and why did you go over here? Well, it's because on our on a single line map, it was time for us to patrol it right. There was no real rationale, it was just time based, right? But here is a way of being able to visually represent and take my time and optimize it. Right and direct me to the areas that need attention. Right,


right. Yeah, Yep, absolutely. It's applying the resources that you have, to the most critical parts of your operation, where they're needed the most, instead of wasting with the operational cost of sending teams out there to do something that doesn't need their attention, necessarily. And and,


and the reality is, is that we have to, if, if our standards are trying to become net zero in a certain period of time, and our infrastructure is our infrastructure, and you're trying to add to it, you're, you're really trying to gain that efficiency, you're trying to, you're trying to remove all of that inefficiency out of it so that you can reach your targets, and set this


entire like, it's the tribal knowledge, you think about the workforce that's out there these days, who actually has this tribal knowledge to be able to go out there and work on these pieces of equipment, it's dwindling, you no doubt about have the skill set to be able to ask you to go out there and do that. And the train new people cost a lot of money. So when you're thinking about the dwindling workforce, and actually applying the resources that you do have, that's the you know, that's most critical.


It's such an exciting time. So just this is for clarification, if you can talk about it, and you can that's one thing, if you can't No big deal. I got it. What was the thought behind creating Hitachi digital services? Versus what what was? What was the thinking behind that? John?


I think it was, you know, I think that it was a it was a combination of a lot of different things. I think you think about the offerings that we have, and how they all seem to work together. You know, they, obviously within digital services, you know, we have everything from our, our ERP, our Oracle, SAP, things like that, we're able to do quite a bit, and everything just melts together pretty well was in digital services together and how they work together, because we really think about, you know, IoT services, what we offer their heart space and Video Intelligence. Cloud, you know, all of it just again, works well. And when you go to approach a customer, it's more of a one Hitachi solution. It's good point.


I was thinking that he thought he's a very dynamic company, like, you know,


that's an understatement. Yeah, it changes.


It adapts frequently. And what it says that we used to be part of Hitachi Ventura, we used to be the digital solutions, business unit. And this business unit is maturing is mature enough that the companies and you know what, I think that this is time now that you can be your own legal entity, your own company. And now our Hitachi Data Services is also including global load, right? We have IoT we have ERP, we have other business units, and now we are becoming independent.


It's an exciting time. John, if somebody says I need to get a hold of you, what's the best way to get a hold


of you? Probably find me on LinkedIn. There it is.


I love the LinkedIn stack card. It makes it easy. And you fleet syncing LinkedIn, you're active out there. Well, you guys were just absolutely delight. I enjoyed this conversation immensely. There's a lot going on. And guys, like you said, you're you're the tip of the arrow, which is pretty cool. I like that. All right, listen, we're gonna have all the contact information for both Felipe and John out on Industrial Talk as long as as well as links to their companies. So stay tuned, we will be right back.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


Matt, absolutely mad innovation being delivered by Hitachi Digital Services. Great job to Felipe and Shawn, for just painting that solution that picture of that solution, visibility big time into what your business is doing, specifically from a utilities perspective. I don't know man. That's exciting. I am so glad that those two are on and as well as Tachi digital services are out there providing these solutions you got to reach out to them make that a point. This is your you know your call to action. All the contact information for these two gents will be out on Industrial Talk. It's just their LinkedIn stack Cartman go check it out. So good. Get engaged. All right, let's get we're building the platform, a platform that is solely dedicated to you the heroes of industry that lets you get engaged Be bold, be brave, dare greatly hang out with these two gents change the world. We're going to have another great conversation short



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