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Coronavirus: Using Innovation to Fight the Pandemic

7 min.

Coronavirus: Using Innovation to Fight the Pandemic

Over the years, several initiatives have brought innovation and digitalization into our work: here’s how they have helped us contain pandemic risks and how they will help us recover quickly.

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Innovation and digitalization have been our best allies during the coronavirus emergency.

When the world was forced to stop and fight the epidemic, we were able to react promptly to an unexpected and difficult crisis that caught many companies unprepared.

In order to guarantee the continuity of energy, an essential service, we’ve developed a set of prevention and protection measures during the pandemic to protect the health of our employees. It has allowed us to work efficiently while minimizing risk exposure.

Several innovative and digital solutions have been created to efficiently support our operational activities, while maintaining high plant performance and the quality of checks and monitoring. This has allowed us to face this emergency while prioritizing HSEQ standards and the protection of our personnel in the field.


Drones, Artificial Intelligence, Smart Glasses and Apps to Contain Risk

The experience we’ve gained through the RoBoost Program – which integrates robotics, drones, AR and AI technologies into Enel Green Power’s Operations & Maintenance – has allowed us to use drones and artificial intelligence during the COVID-19 emergency as well. These solutions carry out environmental monitoring, inspect large photovoltaic plants and detect the state of maintenance for wind turbines, hydropower structures and geothermal plants.

Another innovative tool that has enabled us to respect social distancing is Smart Glasses. Combined with Remote Assistance and Mixed Reality tools, this device allows us to follow and assist the personnel in our plants, in real time and remotely, collaborating with colleagues on the other side of the world and speeding up personnel training.

Alongside our robotic activities, we’ve used platforms to manage and process georeferenced data. This allows us to make data and information available in real time and guarantee our operations where we have reduced human presence, while ensuring we are present for activities of added value, with sustainability in mind.

To start up again faster, we are investing in more tools. Soon, more than 4,000 O&M colleagues will be able to count on a Remote Assistance tool through their smartphones, currently in a preliminary distribution phase. Through a mobile app, this tool can be used to support activities in the field.


The Virtual Boot Camp Experience

Even in the middle of the COVID-19 emergency, our solid partnerships in the most innovative ecosystems in the world, where Enel’s Innovation Hubs are located, allowed us to run the experience of the Startup boot camp. We used the digital tools available to Innovation, demonstrating that overcoming obstacles and finding new solutions is written in the DNA of those in Innovation.

In February and March, the first two virtual boot camps for startups coordinated by the Innovation Hubs in Tel Aviv and Madrid were organized remotely. More than 50 European and Israeli startups were evaluated through different technological challenges. Three of these were chosen, leading to the launch of our first collaborations with innovative startups forged during the COVID emergency.


Speeding up Progress toward the Future

The future that awaits us will feature more and more innovative tools that will drastically change our way of working. The goal is to maximize the opportunities offered by digital technologies in order to support operational efficiency.

To increase the efficiency of maintenance work and the optimal planning of operational resources, we developed a Workforce Management system with more than 1,700 users. It has already been tested in Italy, is in the advanced development stage in North America, and will be extended to all the countries where we work. This tool allows for the complete remote management of assignments and reporting of tasks performed, dialoguing with technicians through a simple mobile app. 

The remote monitoring of our plants will also be supported by the Plant Management app. The application, connecting the worlds of operations and maintenance, will allow us to monitor plant unavailability in real time and anticipate maintenance work to be done.

The development of these innovations stems from the cooperation between the Innovation Hubs , the Digital Hub and EGP’s Operations & Maintenance, as part of the DigiWorld program, established to accelerate the company’s digitalization. The program has involved over 10,000 colleagues in more than 25 different countries so far.

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