How to make utilities’ supply chains more sustainable with IoT

The case of Alesea and Enel
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How can you create a meaningful digital impact on complex supply chains to save cost and improve efficiencies and effectiveness in a sustainable way?
Alesea, a start-up established by Prysmian Group and its venture builder, Corporate Hangar, developed an IoT solution for cable and drum inventory management. Alesea started its collaboration in 2019 with Endesa, Enel Group’s Spanish subsidiary, thanks to Enel Innovation Hubs, a platform designed to boost the participation of start-ups in identifying new solutions that address the world’s most pressing and complex challenges.
Alesea and Endesa launched a year-long initiative to harness IoT in cable drums. The results, carried out on hundreds of drums across Spain, demonstrated that Alesea’s solution could have a significant impact on Endesa’s supply chain:
  • Reaching a potential reduction of 1,200 tons CO2 and 18k trees saved in the next three years
  • Giving real time visibility over stock and usage allowing a ‘just-in-time’ stock management that ultimately can improve cable working capital by 15%
  • Increasing drum return to manufacturers and reducing the time spent empty on field by 50%, promoting circular economy and supporting achievement of sustainability targets
  • Generating real-time insights improving cable inventory management and ultimately reducing cable scrap by 25%
  • Managing remotely and real time the evolution of construction projects and controlling the variances with planning

The Challenge

Managing the supply chain of utilities is fraught with multiple contractors, expensive assets, and slow turnaround, leading to rising costs and increasing complexities. Close collaboration and effective partnerships are mandatory to obtain data, extract valuable information and avoid complex procedures. Real time data has the potential to massively improve this multi-stakeholder supply chain.

The Solution

Alesea, has designed and implemented an IoT solution for Endesa that generates real-time data for core assets: cable drums. The Alesea’s solution comprises a position tracker in the drum that provides data to a cloud platform, transmitting the asset’s status across various dimensions linked to an intuitive interface. During the year-long trial, this solution collected data that delivered real-time valuable business insights for managers to act on immediately.

Success Factors

Success came from building an open innovation relationship, characterized by a deep trust between Alesea and Endesa, from the design of the initial MVP of the solution to the final testing phase. To do so, an open and transparent exchange was set up on supply chain management and operating models, sharing best practices and lessons learnt. This allowed Alesea to have a deeper understanding of Endesa with the aim of generating a higher operational impact through a customized offer without interfering with existing processes.
Endesa approached this project with a long-term perspective, focused on investing to create future returns and cultivated a business mindset open to change, resilience and flexibility to overcome challenges.

A Bright Future

The testing phase proved the potential of Alesea’s solution to positively contribute to Endesa’s supply chain operations in terms of inventory reduction. In addition to this, the initiative highlighted the value that IoT cables and drums inventory management solutions can bring to the production processes and digital transformation.
Alesea is a start-up founded by Prysmian and its venture builder Corporate Hangar in 2019. Alesea relies on a sensor attached to a cable drum that improves efficiency by making it easier to locate drums, understand when a drum becomes empty, and reduce cable scrap waste and the C02 emissions from transportation of drums.
Endesa is the leading electricity company in Spain and the second largest in Portugal. It is also the second largest gas operator in the Spanish market. It develops an integrated generation, distribution and commercialization business, and also offers, through Endesa X, value-added services aimed at the electrification of energy uses in homes, companies, industries and public administrations. Endesa is firmly committed to the United Nations' SDGs and therefore strongly promotes the development of renewable energies through Enel Green Power España, the digitalization of grids through e-distribution, and Corporate Social Responsibility. In this last area, we also act through the Endesa Foundation. Our workforce totals around 9,260 employees. Endesa is part of Enel, Europe's largest electricity group.
Prysmian Group
Prysmian Group is world leader in the energy and telecom cable systems industry. With almost 140 years of experience, sales of over €10 billion, over 30,000 employees in over 50 countries and 104 plants, the Group is strongly positioned in high-tech markets and offers the widest possible range of products, services, technologies, and know-how. It operates in the businesses of underground and submarine cables and systems for power transmission and distribution, of special cables for applications in many different industries and of medium and low voltage cables for the construction and infrastructure sectors. For the telecommunications industry, the Group manufactures cables and accessories for voice, video and data transmission, offering a comprehensive range of optical fibers, optical and copper cables and connectivity systems. Prysmian is a public company, listed on the Italian Stock Exchange in the FTSE MIB index.
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