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Mr. Ricky Watts with Intel Corporation Talks About Modernizing Utilities through Digital Transformation
24th March 2021 • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
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In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast we're talking to Ricky Watts, Industrial Solutions Director at Intel Corporation about "Utility 2.0 and Modernizing Utilities Supply and Demand through Digital Transformation". Get the answers to your "Utility 2.0" questions along with Ricky's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

You can find out more about Ricky and the wonderful team at Intel Corporation on solution to modernizing the Utility Industry by the links below. Finally, get your exclusive free access to the Industrial Academy and a series on “Why You Need To Podcast” for Greater Success in 2020. All links designed for keeping you current in this rapidly changing Industrial Market. Learn! Grow! Enjoy!


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Scott MacKenzie, Ricky Watts with Intel Corporation

Scott MacKenzie 00:04

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 get All right. Welcome to the industrial talk podcast. Another show that is dedicated to industry heroes. That's right, you if we're out there on the old video, I'm pointing right at you. You're an industry hero because you are bold, you're brave. You dare greatly. you innovate. You're changing lives. You're changing the world, and you're solving problems. Did I leave anything else out? No, I don't think so. We are all as an industry bound together. And we have these ties. Everybody is interlinked. That's why we must educate, collaborate. And definitely, you're an innovation. So keep innovating out there because we depend on you. hotseat industrial talk hotseat. His name is Ricky watts. And he is the industrial solutions director with a small little company called Intel. You might have heard of them. But anyway, let's get cracking. We're gonna be talking about utility to Dotto.

Scott MacKenzie 01:19

Yeah, again,

Scott MacKenzie 01:21

another utility conversation. Alo, I mean, you gotta admit, I love geeking out about this whole utility stuff, but it's really becoming a, an interesting challenge to be able to manage supply, manage demand, and innovative people.

Scott MacKenzie 01:39

And innovative companies that constantly say this is better, better, not just for before the demand side, but better for the supply side. It is a brave new world. And this is a great conversation once again, and we're going to be talking about a number of things. Ricky's, Ricky's got some passion, big time, you're going to enjoy this conversation in a big, big way. Before we get in to that conversation. I want to just remind you, that industrial is a platform where you can educate where you can collaborate, where you can definitely work with the individuals to innovate, because we're innovation is and if you don't think that we're not bound together, that we don't have ties in industry, all industries, if you're talking about utilities, yes, it has ties to manufacturing, if you're talking about manufacturing, yes, it has ties to reliability and supply chain, and and how does that whole beautiful

Scott MacKenzie 02:44

You know, network work, it requires that you educate because

Scott MacKenzie 02:49

everybody is just learning so much. And there's a lot of innovation going on out there that you just have to keep current. And that's what industrial talk is all about. Just go there. And if you see anybody you want to reach out to do so, because they're putting themselves out there. They're looking at this world. They're very excited about what is happening and what's changing in it. Alright, let's get with Ricky watts. Again, Intel is the company Ricky watts is the individual hotseat. His card is really pretty cool out there on on LinkedIn. And

Scott MacKenzie 03:24

it's, it's funny to hear just just like we

Scott MacKenzie 03:30

had a conversation with Dean with Hitachi. There's just this level of excitement that exists with this innovation and I know that Intel, Ricky, his team, and everybody there they're looking at ways of being able to do that, that bring the innovation to make you know consumer our lives. If I'm a business our lives better if I'm just a consumer, I flipped the switch our lives better. They they are looking at the world through the lens of innovation. And I love it. That it's it's a geek fast. Don't get me wrong as a former journeyman transmission lineman, I love utilities. I love what I do. I love the people within industry just it. It just keeps on getting better. All right, enjoy this conversation with Ricky watts. Ricky Welcome to the industrial talk podcast absolute honor that you found time and you're you're a hard man to get ahold of you are running and gunning there at Intel. How are you doing? I'm doing well my friend and yourself. Wait, thank you for asking. I'm doing well because I get to talk to you. And we get to talk about utility to Dotto we get to do and I and I'm gonna geek out on this one I am I'm gonna geek out. Listeners we've been having a just a dandy conversation prior to this particular recording. And he brings the passion. There's no doubt about it. You're gonna find out that Ricky brings the passion. All right before we get into the utility to dot o Ricky give us a little background little 411 I'm looking at your

Ricky Watts 05:00

We didn't stack card. It's impressive. Give us a little background. Okay, so yeah, so Ricky watts, you can tell by my accent, I come from this little island, outside of Europe, they're all called the UK. But, but I'm living over here in the US now working with Intel looking after the industrial solutions, what we call segment market and to look after the markets within industrial, including utilities. So and let me tell you about ourselves. So I spent 28 years on the road, I've lived in China, I've lived in India, I've lived in Europe, I've lived in six or seven places in the US, Russia, Nigeria, Middle East, you name it, I've been there. So I came out of the telco world Originally, I was trained as a radio engineer, satellite broadcasting, moved into the software world, I've done many, many roles was in South Africa for five years, you know, working on modernizing their comms infrastructure. But nowadays, I'm really focused on what we call, you know, these industrial segments in the utilities market. And

Ricky Watts 06:03

what I'm trying to look at is from an Intel perspective, there's a lot of technology that we talked about, that's coming in your around this utility to dot zero, yeah, how an Intel and how can we bring these technologies together, that really innovate, drive to the next level in terms of what we can do here? You know, the the reuse of renewables in the manufacturing? How do we use power? How do we generate power? How do we understand the use of that power, all of those system level activities, bringing all of that together, and that's really one of the passions that I got is bringing all those pieces of my background together to drop down

Scott MacKenzie 06:44

in the utility space as a whole, on very reluctant to change, because they have a system that is pretty stable. And very, we take it for granted here in the United States and others where we didn't we flipped that light switch on it is on what is driving the necessity for utilities to innovate and change?

Ricky Watts 07:06

Well, I think it comes from a few areas.

Ricky Watts 07:10

You know, there's if you look at it from the fact that the utilities are looking at how they use in power and how they're generating power, okay, so those are the two things the usage and the generation side of it. So look at the generation side of it, we know that we're getting a lot more things on the renewable side company, wind, solar, these renewable things that are coming in micro grid technology, solar powers on people's roofs, with, there's a lot more places that we're generating power than we did before, when it was generated at the central plant, you know, if it was nuclear, or coal or gas or whatever. Now we got power being generated everywhere. So they got to be how do they do that? How do they bring these things together? That's a challenge for them. You know, how do you distribute that power? That's a real big challenge for them as well, then, of course, we've got the impact of governments, whether it's the US government, whereas the EU government doesn't matter. governments around the world are saying, hey, one of the things we got to look at is this idea of climate change, you know, you hear it all the time, you know, and how are we affecting the planet and through the use of our power, so there's regulation that's coming, that's driving change as well, the regulations coming down. So we've got renewables coming in, which the the utility companies want to tap into, they want to do it intelligently. They've got government regulation coming, and then I'll go down to what is his brass knuckles? Can I reduce my cost, and you know, how important that is to utilities, you know, they're regulated, the way that they charge is very much driven by you know, regulation. So they got to look at how they can reduce a car. So these three or four things that are going on is saying, hey,

Ricky Watts 08:51

what I'm doing today, can it be done differently? Can it be done more cost effectively? Can it allow more flexibility? And can it reduce, you know, the use of carbons, okay, so reduce

Ricky Watts 09:05

carbon usage in the way that I use and consume power? So that's the technology that I think we've been working on an Intel is looking at those things, how can we do that, and that's what you call that utility. 2.0. So and that's really about modernizing, whatever call the utility infrastructure, and where I focus on where we've been focused on a team is much more on what we will call the operational side, the control system side, you know, you talked about the idea that the socket, you know, plugging in power comes out the systems that are doing that have been there and designed over many, many years. You know, I mean, it's a very reliable and robust infrastructure. Yeah. If you're gonna modernize that you better be sure you know what you're doing when you do.

Scott MacKenzie 09:50

So listeners what I hear and I think that this is an interesting conversation from for, from the perspective of industry to dot O. Utilities as a whole have to really run

Scott MacKenzie 10:00

With multiple generation options, you know, they're just like these micro grids that exist out there. And that that reality, unfortunately, or fortunately, or whatever you want to call it is not going away, and it's going to be bigger. That's one, two, there's a lot of pressure from a regulatory perspective, governments, what are we doing? How do we manage climate, all that good stuff is also impacting that utility. And of course, utilities are not that I'm telling you, I'll be the first to admit, I don't want my power to go up. And therefore the utilities are obligated to make sure that that pop power is down. And then

Scott MacKenzie 10:38

how do you take that, that soup of dynamics and be able to control it in such a way that delivers power to my house? Me because it's already and others and manufacturing in a stable way? Did I sort of summarize that up? You did you did you know that. So you can use it on a bumper sticker, it's, it's a bit lengthy, but you can use?

Ricky Watts 11:02

Yeah, it's like what I'm coming to you when I'm moving,

Scott MacKenzie 11:06

you're gonna run into something because it's too long.

Ricky Watts 11:09

But, but your point is very valid. So let's try and break this down. So you know, the most difficult task really is that those systems that you talked about, that are out there today that have, you know, involved in the distribution of power, so we've been looking at the substation market, you know, substations are absolutely critical in the distribution power, you know, they're very complicated, they've got a lot of legacy systems in them, they've got a lot of operation systems, what we're working on inside Intel is, we want to modernize that infrastructure. And we want to modernize it on a modern compute platform, you can take these things, these applications that are running in this environment, the manual part stays the manual part, but the systems that operate and run it and look after those that are what we will call the legacy appliance, they sit on an old piece of equipment, we can now modernize that and put it into a modern type of computer architecture. Now, it takes time to do that, you've got to make sure it's safe, you've got to make sure it's secure, you've got to make sure you're complies to the standards, you know, and ultimately, the most most important thing is any new technology should never result in you making things worse than they were before. It must improve, okay?

Scott MacKenzie 12:27

You want to shut initiative down, make it worse. And I guarantee you people just, yeah, they're coming after you.

Ricky Watts 12:34

So you start there. So we've been building that we've been working with utility companies on this modern computing infrastructure, taking those legacy systems, moving them on to a modern compute infrastructure.

Ricky Watts 12:48

But you talk about utility 2.0, why is that important? If you do not get those systems modernize, you will never truly be able to get to the next level. Because you cannot bring in new technologies such as AI, you can't bring in new technologies that are going to be connectivity, you're not going to be able to upgrade and add in new services, you're not going to be able to innovate, but the level that you want on the usage, you talked about the usage, you know, if I'm going to look at usage, how I'm intelligent, the using power, where the word intelligently comes in, well, what does that mean? I need to look at data, I need to analyze how I'm using something. Am I using it efficiently? Are my systems using it at the right time? Can I match the usage of my power, maybe to one, I've got a renewable this generate the sun shining really well today? Therefore, I'm generating maybe more electricity from renewables, could I map that to somehow at the factory and that the guy can up his production or that time, whenever it sounds kinda like Star Trek II, but that's a reality, what's what intelligence is, and you need a platform that can host those systems allow renewables to be very flexible in terms of the way that they come in, and then map that to the usage on the other side. And that's kind of what I will call that common platform at the substation that allows to connect the control systems with what we're going to call the evolution of these intelligent systems on the usage side as well. So you know, when you talk about utility to Rado, number one thing, let's start looking at modernization. As we modernize, can we database...