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Last October 18th and 19th, La Société wallonne des eaux (SWDE) hosted the 5th Executive Value Network for Water and Waste Water at the outstanding facilities of the Société Publique de Gestion de l'Eau (SPGE) at Verviers:  two intense days of fluent discussions and networking among attendees and were everybody learnt on the water value chain challenges and use cases of relevant digitalization and  innovation practices to face current risks and business needs.  It has been a great exercise of collaboration among peer and partners. Together with strategy driven keynotes, four major areas drove the attention of the sessions:  cases of water management platforms, customer focus projects, innovations to adress current challenges and asset management optimization.

Inspirational keynotes were provided the two days of the event.  Mr Eric Van Sevenant (piectured below), Chairman of management committee – SWDE & SPGE not only wellcomed delegates but offered a very insightful presentation about their new strategical approach based in digitalisation to support the Wallonia region industrial plan for 2030 and the ambitious role of the new created Digit'Eaux -  Société Digitale des Eaux de Wallonie will play as centre of expertise and IT services for public water operators in Wallonia.

Not least relevant has been the keynote of Wim Jacobs, Innovation Director at FARYS related to the Strategies and dilemmas to secure water supply.  I was personally impressed to see real figures on the impact of water scarcity, in this case for the region of Flanders, and the real impact in the balance of taking control actions in the segement of potable water as well  as the complexity of adopting water circularity strategy policies alterning the natural circularity of the water value chain.

Setting up water management digital platforms is the to-be strategy of many water companies to adress many of the current challenges raised by the water scarcity while transforming companies into data driven organizations, so a great focus of the Water EVN has been in discussing cases and IT approaches.  Inge Opreel, CIO of FARYS (below pictured) has provided an update of the Smart Water Platform which is currently being set up with De Watergroep and Pipa water companies from the Flanders Region and was already introduced in previous Water EVN editions, this time providing a very intersting update on its scalabiity, this is to add new use cases on the the existing architcture:  remote data quality monitoring and water balance analytics.  Roseline Klein, from Suez Digital Solutions, provided use cases arround the water loss reduction cases in their (big data) water management platform.

Second part was dedicated into Smartmetering as part of the key elements of a water management platform. On this purpose David Marciniak, from the Innovation team at SWDE shared their approach and experience for smart metering from the easyCONSO project for large customers.  Not least relevant contribution was provided by Kevin de Wilde, thought leader at Capgemini, who conducted a panel discussion among Anke Geudens from Pidpa, Friedl Vandermeersch from de Watergroep and Nel Pope from Farys to discuss on the Impact of smart metering on daily operations. Finally, Michael Dobler, Product Owner of SAP Cloud for Energy,  shared an outlook on its product roadmap with dedicated focus into Alert handling.

Afternoon sessions balanced towards the engagement with citizens, having two interesting cases both relating the adoption of new technologies while adreesing a deep change mangement among its final users. In the first case, the implemantation of a customer field services management tool by Henri Pecheur and Barbara Leonelli from SWDE, the project drove to the creation of new roles and business functions at the company while in Pidpa case, it also had similar outcome and both Anke Geudens and Marjan De Ridder from Capgemini (pictured below) showcased a demo to present the impact of the Ux improvements in the screens in order to facilitate these changes.

Although all discussions and presentations contained elements of innovation in its heart, both from business and technical perspectives, there were two contributions with focal point in this subject:  Suez Digital Solutions and Linning Aquavisio.  In the first one, Roseline Klein (pictured below) made a impressive description of some of the deliverables at Suez Research and Metrology centres, with special focus in cases like PFAS, per and poly-fluororalkyl substances which, its ultra-resistant properties, are becoming on of the most dangerous toxics per human and wildlife and a major challenge to remediate.

Tero Auvinen, from Lining, presented the water management solution built and proved among the main water companies in Finland. A after demonstrating its main capabilities and  value, described how Linning is working with SAP in order to adapt the solution into SAP technical infrastructure enabling this way its adoption by any water management platform or stand alone as a  ready-made, easy-to-implement solution .

Asset management part brought two interesting perspectives out of the regular discussions on this subject, this is adressing the Capex allocation and operational management for asset and infrastructure construction by Inge Opreel, CIO from Farys showcasing the complexity of harmonizing in the system such diverse profiles of project managers, engineers and financial, logistic responsibles, contractors and financial responsibles by leveraging new capabilities as spatial enablement of transactional information from SAP S4HANA and a very innovative approach for underground assets, this is pipe maintenance by Nicolas Rodrigez, from the Statistics and Data Controls department at SWDE (below pictured), who showcased how they are predicting pipe failures  by combining mainly data from their corporate GIS and their CMMS system and showing illustrative examples of the  outcome, challenges adn future plans.

Finally, SWDE facilitated a site visit to their water treatment station at Stembert, an impressive location which shows the complexity of water purification process and the outstanding figures related, such as the amount of water  constantly managed to serve society. Last, but not least, delegates visit the administration part of the facility where a technician show in the SWDE corporate SAP system how they reported and scheduled their maintenance work activities.

Hopefully SWDE support has raised again the level of the Water Value Network for Water and Waste Water event, making very difficult but a motivating challenge to keep the level for next year!


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