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A future-proof gas distribution network

A gas distribution infrastructure operator has launched a future vision project, using design thinking tools to imagine how the Internet of Things applied to the industrial context can improve the gas distribution network.

A gas distribution infrastructure operator has launched a future vision project, using design thinking tools to imagine how the Internet of Things applied to the industrial context can improve the gas distribution network.

Industry

Energy & Utilities

Year

2019

Client

Gas network infrastructure operator

IoT to deliver value along with gas

The Internet of Things, also applied to industrial contexts (IIoT), is able to offer new opportunities, create value and offer increasingly efficient services. A leading player in gas distribution on the Italian market has launched a project envisioning the gas market of 2030 and imagined how this technology could transform its own role in that context.

Data - collected from the surrounding environment, from the infrastructure itself, from the workers and from third-party sources - and its analysis have been identified as the key to this future: collected according to precise criteria, processed and visualised, it becomes valuable information to feed improvement initiatives, new project lines and thus generate further value. 

Workers in the gas network infrastructure

Outcome

Nine future scenarios have been identified and defined to understand how IIoT can enable the digital transformation of the company's business. Co-design sessions were conducted together with technology and business transformation partners to identify the areas of opportunity represented by IoT in future scenarios and to identify some high-level solutions in 4 specific areas of the company: Safety, Energy Transportation, Asset Lifecycle, Post-Energy transition.

included strategic areas
3
envisioned scenarios
9
explored solutions
27

Data for an informed future

Thanks to IIoT, in 2030 the company will be able to develop predictive models for optimising its gas distribution, sales and storage processes by collecting data from the environment, people and other third-party sources.

Safety and sustainability for well-being and efficiency 
The data can be used to monitor and optimise the ongoing maintenance of the distribution network, reducing waste and emergency interventions. In addition, having timely, constant and proactive control of possible critical situations allows them to be predicted and avoided, ensuring the total safety and health of staff and the community. 


The gas distribution network will be a digital process
The implementation of predictive models and the development of new technologies and products will enable gas distribution processes to regulate themselves, ensuring the well-being of people and the continuity of production activities.


New company assets for continuous improvement 
The data will be the basis for designing and building corporate assets on two levels: a virtual one in which optimised scenarios can be simulated, and a real one that is constantly monitored in relation to the first.
Assets will be able to communicate with information systems, with each other and with people, both internal and external, providing real-time support and specific information on their status and activities, preventing or remotely managing anomalies, through risk-based predictive models and interaction with the territory and the community.

Moments during the co-design sessions and output of the four Design Thinking sprint sessions by defining solution cards

From data to new business models

In the future, our client will be able to operate at European, national and local level, playing a role in all phases of the energy market value chain (production, storage, transport and sales) with particular relevance in the production of green gas and in the management of energy communities located throughout the country, also thanks to the creation of partnerships with other TSOs.

Furthermore, the company will be able to work at governmental level for the implementation of new policies and a common language to regulate, collaborate and create synergies with other actors in the area. Thanks to the data collected and the knowledge gained, the company will be able to expand its business model to areas that are currently unexplored.

Processing and elaboration of the data emerged, generating useful information that highlights how there is a high correlation and contamination between the sources, and the topics considered. 


Information for planning the future

Four topics were addressed vertically during the project. The working groups identified challenges to which they responded by generating concepts that adopted innovative and advanced technological solutions. The process of elaboration and study of the outcomes of each workshop finally highlighted the correlation and the high rate of contamination and complementarity of the proposed solutions.

Through an operation of further interpretation of the ideas and rationalisation of the concepts, it was possible to create a model able to relate the different solutions, highlighting in particular how the same type of data, or the same generating source, is able to respond simultaneously to several needs, thus providing answers and information relating to different topics. 

Process leading to the definition of characterised and prioritised scenarios

The proposed solutions were grouped into three lines of strategic evolution that may represent a long-term point of interest for the company. Each strategic line was linked to a future scenario concept along a transformation roadmap.

Project numbers

Companies involved in the envisioning phase
Four
iterations
Eight
involved operatives
80+