Unless you’ve been marooned on a desert island for the past seven months or more, you’re likely aware we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. While this may not seem like the best time for electrical contractors to step out of their comfort zone, Mike Montanari, Schneider Electric vice president, power systems, encouraged attendees to do just that during his Thursday afternoon presentation “Transform Industry Challenges into Profitable Opportunities.”
Montanari began his session by discussing how the pandemic has created more complexities in an ever-evolving industry already rife with complexities, including the skilled labor shortage, the emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and a long-standing hesitation to adopt new technologies.
“Our industry has always been slow to change,” he said. “Over the past 70 years, efficiency gains have flattened, and we only have 5% digital penetration. The pandemic presents an opportunity to address this.”
According to Montanari, the future of the electrical industry is data, but learning and hiring for new skill sets in low voltage and the commissioning of integrated systems remains a hurdle for many electrical contractors.
“You have three camps in the [technology] evolution,” he said. “There are those that are already running toward it and trying to understand what role technology can play beyond the concept of a traditional project. Those in the middle know there is something they need to figure out and are working to do that. Then, there is a percentage that want this [technology evolution] to go away. To that group I say, ‘You’re at risk.’”
To help take the pressure off job-site execution and offset labor shortages, Montanari suggested the following:
- Expand and optimize contractor-facing tools.
- Develop tools that streamline design, quotation, project execution, and service calls.
- Design in safety and IIot connectivity.
“Data is not the future of the electrical industry; it’s the now,” he concluded.