Siemens Living Lab for the 21st Century Grid

The following is the first of the Smart Grid Living Lab Interview Series.
Published: Wed 28 Aug 2013

Siemens Canada and New Brunswick Power opened a smart grid competence centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada in the summer of 2012.

By using Siemens Smart Grid Compass methodology, Siemens will support New Brunswick Power in the modernization of its electricity system in a multi-year partnership.

The following interview is with Pierre Mullin, Head of Product R&D for Energy Automation. He is currently working with a diverse team of 16 to design and rollout smart grid software, among other focus areas.

1) Could you explain how the following four sides will benefit from this venture and the interconnection that exists between them? 1) Siemens 2) New Brunswick Power 3) the province of New Brunswick and 4) New Brunswick universities?

This initiative is creating a virtuous circle that builds upon – and builds up – the strong local base of software development and engineering expertise in both the commercial and academic sectors, through innovation on a next-generation smart grid by Siemens and NB Power.

NB Power will be deploying a world-leading smart grid that will not only result in significant cost savings, but will also create a sustainable energy infrastructure.

For Siemens, this initiative will give us a “living lab” that we can use as a demonstration showcase for potential clients, in addition to strengthening our overall smart grid product portfolio.

Local engineering and IT firms will build expertise that they can use in New Brunswick and export to other markets. All stakeholders will benefit from an enhanced focus on smart grid research at local universities and colleges, which will create a cohort of next-generation smart grid professionals.

2) It was stated in The Herald online that “the majority of new hires have been local, aligning with Siemens´ strategy to bring the best of global smart grid knowledge together with local expertise from New Brunswick´s impressive talent pool.” Could you elaborate on this?

The Fredericton Smart Grid R&D team was recruited locally, but in addition to several native New Brunswickers, there also includes individuals who hail from all over the world. The common element for many of the new Canadians on our team is that they came to Canada to obtain graduate degrees and decided to stay. This is a big win for Canadian universities and the local economy. Canada has been a nation of immigrants that has evolved over the last four hundred years, with each wave bringing its own unique blend of skills and cultural background.

Our customer facing CoC (Centre of Competence) team has a similar degree of diversity, blending local expertise with staff brought in from around the world, including Siemens experts from Europe and a noted smart grid author and consultant from Texas.

3) You mentioned that your team has a very diverse background. What is so special about this diversity?

Our diversity brings many different perspectives and approaches to problem solving to the table. It also enhances our global view of the market. On a social level, it is amazing to learn about other cultures and traditions.

It’s also quite interesting that since we are all working in software development, we share a lot of common background in terms of software development technologies that cut across languages and cultures. So while, we may not all speak Mandarin, Hindi and German, Java, C and XML are familiar to all of us.

4) And how does your background fit into this team?

I am a native “Frederictonian” who has lived in the US and other parts of Canada and made my way back to Fredericton several years ago. After obtaining my university degree in Computer Science, I started my career in utilities (NB Power, actually) and then moved into software product development and consulting. The opportunity to take on a leadership role with the Siemens Canada Smart Grid team was an almost uncanny match with my professional background.

To read the rest of the interview, join us on our global website under Expert's Talk.

To learn more about the Smart Grid Compass methodology and how to align your smart grid business model to provide sustainable value then join our upcoming webinar on Sept. 5th, 2013.

*Reproduced by kind permission of Siemens Smart Grid Watch