Emanuele Volpe, Chief Innovation Officer DTEK.
An innovation function was established at DTEK energy company in 2018. It was headed by Emanuele Volpe who has many years of experience in introducing innovations in international companies.
There are hundreds of interpretations of what innovation is. The majority of people don’t have a clear understanding of it. Some say that innovation may be represented by an electric kettle with a temperature control system, while others assume that it is breakthrough technologies developed in Silicon Valley. When the Ukrainian business starts talking about innovations, it’s mostly about conventional technological improvements which are not something fundamentally new for a significant part of the world. These technologies are available. You can even hold a tender and big companies will attend it and sell a end-to-end solution.
We are talking about open innovations. This concept means that business addresses local and international innovation ecosystems and proposes to solve specific problems or to develop a technology or solution that may be integrated into your business.
The biggest difficulty is that startups and young people from the technological community have never thought that their knowledge and their projects could be applied in the traditional industrial areas. We faced this last year when launching the energy accelerator. We had to make some efforts to become more open for the Ukrainian start-up community. Together we had to understand what decisions may be integrated into the respective areas.
For example, our TPPs had to improve the coal stocks valuation method For decades workers were measuring the coal stocks with the use of a special ruler. Yes, you got it right: the workers go on the mound and check the linear indicators. Next, its volume is calculated with the help of special tables developed many decades ago. We held the final accelerator in December and developed a completely new solution. EverScan Company calculates the amount of coal in stock with the help of drones much faster and several times more accurately. This is not the only use of drones. DTEK has its own electricity grid in three regions of Ukraine. Their monitoring is a long, complex and expensive task. The drone manages to fly around dozens of kilometers of networks in several hours. It detects wire breaks, damage, sagging and the other complications. This significantly accelerates the troubleshooting, helps in repairs and direct investment planning. These devices have already stepped into the service of our network business.
Did you know that pharmaceutical companies invest millions of dollars in VR (virtual reality)? People use this technology to significantly reduce the need in anesthesia for people with severe burns. If you do not believe it, try to use any search service.
DTEK is already using VR to train its employees. In the end of 2018, we united international start-ups and improved training in such a way. We created the DTEK VR Power Plant Simulator — a training course for employees, which includes a set of tasks necessary for both doing walkdowns and repairing separate units of the power plant. Integration with Teslasuit (Belarus) allows beginners to study and practice in a precisely reconstructed virtual environment of a power plant, but without any danger to their health and equipment.
Incidentally, the costume also warns about the threat of damaging of certain body parts when approaching dangerous objects (in case of non-compliance with the instructions). For example, when such an object is under voltage and a student does not meet the safety requirements, does not wear protective gloves, etc. The suit also transfers the vibration, tactual sense of the objects, and sounds. We plan to start using this product in our training centers.
Two other start-ups that are already being implemented were also selected during the accelerator process. The QRSmarty team from Zaporizhzhia introduced a service for accounting and transferring materials and commodities within enterprise by means of laser drawing of QR-codes and other markings. Railtex is an ambitious and promising platform designed to become a stock exchange of cars, and it can break the chaos in the rail freight market not only for one energy company but also for the whole country.
In addition to the importance of attracting start-ups and new technologies, we are convinced in the need to build a culture of open innovation within the company. Over 70 thousand employees are the most valuable asset we have. Therefore, everyone should be able to offer a solution that can affect business with a few clicks in their smartphone or laptop. In order to make it happen we are developing a unified window, a platform for new ideas. This is a complete CRM that will not allow any initiative to get lost. In addition, the culture of open innovation means the awareness of employees that their capabilities may be useful not only in the perimeter of their direct responsibilities. This calls for the managers of all levels to be ready for changes and top management to support these changes in full.
The way of innovation for DTEK is the way to increase business efficiency. The company is entering a new competitive energy market. It means that DTEK should be ready to develop new products, new client services and to transform traditional processes. Innovation is a prerequisite for our transformation, the development of the entire industry and the achievement of Ukrainian energy independence.
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