“You can extract information without knowing about the industry, but reaching a balance between experience in data and experience in the field is what brings value to our customers”
Optimising field analytics for smarter decisions
i-EM was founded in 2013 as an Italian spinoff of remote sensing company Flyby. i-EM provides advanced predictive analytics-powered solutions for the energy management of smart grids and renewable power plants, enabling the optimisation of decision making through machine learning as well as satellite data and Big Data knowledge. Lanzetta states, “our company’s mission is to make predictions for smart grids, so they remain manageable when unprecedented incidents occur”. All in all, i-EM provides energy industry players – including end-users – with real-time awareness about the grid and its elements, allowing them to make better and more sustainable decisions.
Lanzetta adds: “We are digitalising our fields and our plants by using Big Data and extracting quantitative and qualitative values”. He goes on to say that, “in solar energy, for example, once we input this data into our algorithms and look at possible failures, our platform sends warnings to the operators so that they know if intervention in the field is needed or if they must schedule maintenance”. Usually, plant maintenance is conducted routinely, every month or every six months; however, by optimising these actions through predictive maintenance, unnecessary costs decrease because operators can limit activities to when they are needed.
Aside from using Big Data analytics, i-EM effectively employs satellite data to provide accurately updated and timely information from solar assets, weather predictions, and ground categorisation, to properly forecast obstacles and make decisions. Their satellite-based construction monitoring service, for example, allows i-EM to monitor the ground with images and provide customers with KPIs that are relevant to the construction of new plants.
With so many companies now hopping on the satellite and Big Data trends, trying to pinpoint the service that provides the highest value can be overwhelming. According to Lanzetta: “In many cases, companies go straight to data and they don't know about the industry”. He adds that, “from our point of view, the difference is that we have the knowledge and experience in statistical machine learning techniques as well as renewables, smart grids and solar energy”.
“To be an innovator you have to be able to visualise a market scenario problem and see it as an opportunity”
Co-creating for smarter predictions
Enel met i-EM when it was a startup, in 2013. “Enel was our starting point and together we have had an amazing industrial partnership”, asserts Lanzetta. “What is unique about working with Enel is that they have a clear vision of where the market will go; for example, they were one of the first companies in the world to use digitalisation in the energy field”, he continues.
As our partnership evolves, we learn from each other in order to constantly provide better services and explore new fields and areas. Recently, we co-developed an innovation initiative for monitoring hydroelectric plants.
With an international vision in mind, i-EM continues to grow: from its original headquarters in Turin, to Livorno in Central Italy, all the way to Harwell Campus, near Oxford. Lanzetta explains that “through our investments in the United Kingdom we have been able to penetrate new innovation clusters that bridge into countries such as the United States, South Africa, India and Australia”. i-EM services are currently being utilised in 20 countries, and monitor more than 800 industrial plants.
In addition to the startup’s work with smart grids management, renewable plant monitoring, asset management and energy forecasting, the company is now reaching a new frontier and developing solutions within e-mobility. The ecosystem in this field still consumes a lot of energy, but also provides many opportunities for the use of renewables. i-EM aims to use the data from this sector for smart charging solutions in order to balance smart grids and contribute to a more sustainable world.
With many future objectives lying ahead for i-EM, one thing is certain: through proper digitalisation and automation, we can contribute to a greener and more sustainable future together.