The CSEM Digital Journey 2021 prizes were awarded on November1 at the launch conference of the Forward event organized by EPFL (École polythechnique fédérale de Lausanne), Le Temps and PME Magazine. Created in 2018, this competition rewards two projects in each of its editions. In addition to the sum of 100,000 Swiss francs (about 96,000 euros), the winners benefit from the technological expertise and digital knowledge of the CSEM (Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology). This year, not two but three companies were selected: Schweizer Zucker AG and Schweizer Salinen AG competed together, and thethirdwinner was Digitel SA.
Artificial intelligence to prevent breakdowns
Schweizer Zucker, Switzerland’s largest sugar supplier, employs around 250 people at its factories in Frauenfeld and Aarberg, which process around 10,000 tonnes of sugar beet per day during the harvest period. Schweizer Salinen, the Swiss salt works, extracts, stores and sells up to 600,000 tonnes of salt per year and, with its three salt works in Schweizerhalle, Riburg and Bex, ensures the supply of salt to the whole of Switzerland (for food, but also for snow removal, the pharmaceutical industry or the chemical industry).
A malfunction leads to a loss of production. A member of staff is required at all times to monitor the installations. At the moment, the condition of the pumps is not permanently checked, which prevents early detection of faults and costly breakdowns can result. With predictive analysis, faults could be detected early, processes optimised and energy saved. The project of the two SMEs is therefore to take up a common challenge: the use of artificial intelligence to predict failures in their industrial pumps.
Reducing the energy consumption of refrigeration systems by 5 to 10%.
The third winning company, Digitel SA, specializes in the development and marketing of solutions for the regulation and remote control of energy-intensive refrigeration systems. In Switzerland, industry, supermarkets and service companies alone consume around 11,000 GWh of electricity, which corresponds to one seventh of all Swiss electricity consumption. Digitel has already developed an initial solution for detecting excessive electricity consumption. Together with the CSEM, the company now wants to bring to market a comprehensive energy efficiency solution using artificial intelligence. This solution will make it possible to continuously measure the energy consumption of a group of factories and to detect and report anomalies. It will also be able to recognize their origin and optimize the energy balance. This solution could very soon be applied to Digitel systems already in service and achieve energy savings of between 5 and 10%.
Alexandre Pauchard, CEO of CSEM explains:
“For many Swiss SMEs, digitization is a key differentiator in the field of customer service. As the two winners of our competition show, it can also help to reduce costs, for example by reducing technical breakdowns and optimizing energy consumption.”
The CSEM Digital Journey competition is aimed at companies with less than 250 employees whose financial and human resources are often insufficient to meet the challenges of digitalization.