13/09/2021 - 13:40

Harnessing the power of data

13/09/2021 - 13:40

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As the so-called Industrial Internet of Things creates seemingly infinite, complex data streams, businesses can feel overwhelmed with too many numbers, but little information. A desire to use this data to its fullest potential may seem like a wish list too far but it’s within this complexity and challenge that operational data experts Optimate thrive.

Data can provide the key to significant advantages in business, from anticipating behaviours in industry to predicting future events, so to gain this competitive edge, it’s important to be able to distil this wealth of data into real world results.

With a new executive team in place, Optimate’s 20 year journey is set for a vertiginous transformation over the next few years, according to CEO Francois Mevis, in Perth, and Naomi Robinson, Regional Manager East, in Brisbane.

“We design, implement and maintain operational data platforms for a living,” said Mr Mevis. “We have an exceptionally talented group of engineers, many of them with extensive backgrounds in companies like OSIsoft, Schneider and Rockwell. We also have people – like myself – who come from the demand side of our industries and that hybrid pedigree makes Optimate unique.”

Thanks to Optimate’s work with a variety of companies at various stages of maturity, the opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas is an enormous accelerator and advantage for their stable of clients.

“By way of background, operational data is data generated through sensors attached to equipment; we say value lies in data, not in systems,” said Mr Mevis. “Any production facility will have tens of thousands of these streaming data feeds – all producing valuable data that can be mined for information.

“By making data and the data supply chain the core of what we do, we approach integration in a different way, making it more coherent and more scalable.”

Optimate’s job is to make operational data available to the entire organisation for analysis, to bring the pieces together and remove the constraints of technology.

“Managing this complex data integration across operational and information technology domains is an absolute strength of Optimate,” said Ms Robinson.

Optimate’s capability is organised into four practices: Process Control and IoT, Integration and Storage, Context and Quality, and Information and Insight. Combined, the practices cover the end-to-end data supply chain, and give Optimate the ability to solve data issues in the right place and at the right scale.

“Scalability is vital and approaching problem-solving from a customer perspective, we now ask questions like ‘how are our customers going to work with real-time streaming data, in real life scenarios?’” said Mr Mevis. “The audience has expanded to something altogether more company-wide, embracing finance, asset management and logistics too.

“These ‘new’ data consumers are often the ones driving most value for organisations by basing their decisions on the facts the data supplies.”

This rich source of intel through data is providing a wealth of continuous research into new technologies, led by experts in their field who are then able to support and empower businesses to make informed choices.

Optimate’s ability to tackle complex operational data integration programs is on full display with clients such as renewables leader, Alinta Energy.

It’s this ongoing relationship which has led Optimate to work on Alinta’s Chichester Solar Gas Project – a step change initiative with FMG and Roy Hill to connect mine sites, enabling up to 100% of daytime operations to be powered by renewable energy, with back-up from existing battery storage power. 

“Meanwhile on the east coast, Optimate were tasked to design and integrate operational data of an Origin Energy monitoring centre with real time, context-sensitive access to all data across all sites within their generation portfolio,” said Ms Robinson.

“A large array of elements was all synchronised and Optimate’s scope included requirements, feasibility, system architecture and ongoing support for the client.”

“The audience and consumer base for operational data has increased enormously,” said Mr Mevis. “Operational data is more than ever a cornerstone in our customers’ information strategy which in turn is the engine behind digital transformation. To build the best data platform possible, our conversations with our customers are now strategic and driven from a benefits’ perspective.”

Taking a greater collaborative and flexible approach to solution design, implementation and benefits realisation, has given Optimate a considerable advantage in the highly specialised operational data space.

The same values and pragmatism inform Optimate’s internal executive strategies to manage challenges such as the Covid pandemic.

Above: Optimate's executive team - Francois Mevis and Naomi Robinson 

“We embraced the hybrid working arrangements model,” said Ms Robinson. “By operating in a more holistic way, we’ve removed previous silos and organisational constraints, and this gave us a level playing field irrespective of location. It also created a sense of realisation that we are more than colleagues, customers, suppliers and vendors as the pandemic continued.

“By embracing disruption and overhauling our old business model, we have a much clearer vision of who we are, what our culture is and how we work best.”

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