Przemek Tomczak with KX

On this week's Industrial Talk we're talking to Przemek Tomczak, Senior Vice President at KX about “Utility IoT, Smart Grid, Edge Intelligence and Advanced Data Analytics”.  Get the answers to your “Utility 2.0” questions along with Przemek's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

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utility, imts, happening, data, grid, arduino, visibility, journey, kx, industrial, system, manufacturing, asset, detect, line, contingency, meters, technology, work, talk


Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots,


and let's go I ride once again, thank you very much for joining industrial talk, ever expanding industrial ecosystem of problem solvers and leaders. Because everyone out there, you know, this platform is for every manufacturer, every industry out there, because you are bold, brave, you dare greatly you're solving problems, you collaborate, you're, you're coming up with innovative solutions to all of them, and creating businesses that are resilient. That's why we celebrate you here. That's why this ecosystem, you need to be a part of it. All right. In the hot seat, we have a gentleman by the name of Przemek. Tomczak KX is the company. And we're talking about utilities. We're talking about data analytics, and it is a data analytics solution to our utility challenges. So let's get cracking. Yeah. Because I lack utility stuff. I had a great conversation with Przemek.Great, great, professional, Big time, big time. All right, let's do some housecleaning, you're saying you tell Scott. Hey, Scott, what's new on industrial talk? Well, let me just sort of share with you. We always go to conferences, we like conferences, we like the fact that, that we get to connect with all of these incredible leaders and professionals and, and problem solvers. So that's what that's what it's all about. I am T s is is going to be the next conference we're at. This is September 12, to the 17th. It is in Chicago, Illinois. And if you're in manufacturing, you need to be there. And it's a must. This is a massive show with incredible solutions, and innovation to help you as a manufacturer become more resilient, and really begin to leverage the innovation that exists out there. We are also broadcasting there with IMTS plus and as sort of the the influencer platform that AMT put together empties the organizers of IMTS. No test on this, trust me, don't worry about it. Anyway, we've got a great broadcast booth. It's it's centered location, we are with other industry influencers. And and it's just, it's meant to be fun. It's meant to be exciting. It is it is meant to be able to highlight all of the great talent and technology that exists in manufacturing. Because really, again, you need to educate. That's why IMTS here, that's why we're a part of IMTS plus, you need to collaborate again, right there right now. And then thirdly, you need to innovate, create that business that is resilient. Now in line with that, because it's up in Chicago, on the 13th of September, we're going to be GA tootling around MX D. And this is sort of a, you get to see all of this, this incredible innovation, this manufacturing innovation in action, you can walk the floor, they have an open house, I think it starts at 430 and and continues on to seven ish, right in there. And that's MSD. So if you go to IMTS, which you should, and then you you jump on, and you look for IMTS plus which I will be there. Look for this and put this on your calendar because they have a great website. And it's MX D And you can take a virtual tour, but I would highly recommend that you take a physical tour. Finally, because we are an ever expanding ecosystem, that's what we are about. We have new members, and the newest member is Arduino. Arduino. They're out of there out of Italy. And what's great about them is the story. The story is that here's this IoT, here's here's this incredible opportunity for many manufacturers to be able to extract data from their systems and to be able to make great decisions now. Now this organization, Arduino, what they can do is they can create these wonderful devices to be able to do that and do it quite effectively. Their email or their website is Arduino that's AR d u i n Go out there and it's a great website they got so they have so much going on. I'm looking at it right now. It's It's amazing. They never stop. It's quite frankly, it's it's, it's fantastic. Arduino. That's, that's the company. All right, let's get on with the conversation here, one.


So I'm I ran into Kx, I was at a manufacturing conference up in Chicago, again, not IMTS, a different one. And I ran into kx. And what was interesting about them is that they're, they provide sort of that data analytics for f1. And I'm an f1 fan, a nut. And what makes f1 so interesting to me is the ability to be able to attract, extract the data from that car, and then be able to make real time adjustments to obser optimize the performance of that asset. Make sense? That's where we're trying to get to, within manufacturing, how do we look at that high performance manufacturing asset, and we continue to refine it and make it even more efficient, more productive. And that's, that's where KX that's, I just said, Oh, my gosh, and I was going to talk about f1. But I got all distracted by all of the other things, and and, of course, utility stuff as well. I enjoyed the conversation, and you're going to enjoy the conversation. Again, thank you very much for joining, industrial talk. And here's Przemek Tomczak. Welcome to industrial talk. How are you doing today?


Excellent. Great to be here, Scott's. And


that's a couple of takes on? You didn't hear it, listeners. But that was a couple of takes. And I finally was able to get out industrial talk. Go figure. How about that one. I am so glad we get a chance to talk. I'm telling you I've been ever since I met whatever the kicks team in want to say Chicago. And then I started geeking out on Formula One, and then started geeking out on digital transformation and everything in between. I am so excited to be able to have this conversation. This is cool. So how are you doing?


And it's very nice and hot here in Toronto, Canada.


Don't talk to me about hot. I live in Louisiana. It's always hot and miserable, and steamy. And everything else. All right. For the listeners out there. Give us a little 411 a little background. What is information in Canada? Down here? It's 411 What is the information dial? You know 411411 Give us a 411 on Przemek


Tomczak SVP IoT utilities, KX, which is streaming real time analytics company been around for over 25 years. And well known in finance. And we're applying this technology to solve lots of interesting challenges, energy utilities, manufacturing, Formula One, etc. And I started my career in the energy sector and consulting market deregulation, then worked for a grid operator ran a Data Hub, information exchange, and then saw all the data challenges we were facing. I thought we could do a better job and then join John KX to actually help do it.


Yeah, I'm looking at it your stack card go. You've got to check him out. It's, it's a heck of a stamp card on LinkedIn. And as I peruse, yep, you've got some utility chops. Because you're you were part of the independent electric system operator up there to talk about to talk about the grid and everything associated with digital transformation. And then when when you were there, when you were there back in looks like 2015. Did you see what was happening in the utility space that then all of this distributed energy, plugged the car in here, the battery over there, solo over there? But ever being able to manage that grid? Did you guys see that?


Absolutely. We saw and started, we kicked off as a whole company, and the whole sector to redesign the whole market. So that it was much more flexible, more resilient, with all that change, providing new market vehicles so folks could participate in the market. So that journey was starting when I left and has continued on since that,


yeah, given that upon reflection of where you're at today, and I'm sure he keep in contact with some of those people at the ISL. I do.


And a lot of faces have changed some retired, because you've had we had long serving folks 30 year plus that that was a common theme. But a lot of new energy new faces have gone into the sector, which is quite interesting.


Do they do they determine that all of this stuff because it's happening at a blistering pace? Have they determined that there's they're successful or are they on a journey to success or what how would you sort of grade the situation there now?


I think It's a journey just because in Ontario, Canada, we have a central grid operator and market operator. And we have a transmission operator. And we've got 64 distribution companies. So all need to interplay in that that sector and more or more generation and more EVs are getting added to the distribution sector. And historically, the ISO, the central facility has not had Villa visibility of what what was going on in the distribution system. Because, hey, it's less than one megawatt it's noise. But as you're getting more or more of this, it's less noise, you can see it but you can't pinpoint it. So I think, through the market change initiatives is to create the visibility, but they need as the whole systems changing.


How did that happen? How, because exactly my my, my pedigree comes into the utility is way, way back then. And it was pretty straightforward, where you got to your, you know, generator, a transmission substation, and so on. And nobody really saw the distribution, what what has helped into the visibility of, of the distribution system.


So here's what I'm seeing right now. And I'm involved in a fortunate to be involved with some major initiatives in Europe. And also some in North America, where the utilities are now deploying higher frequency meters, meaning measuring more stuff, where were variables, not just for billing, and then they're exchanging all this information with all relevant parties. So we were involved in the finished thing out. So in Finland, all the production, consumption flourish is exchanged and facilitated centrally. So that whoever wishes to participate and get value from the information well, North America, it's more silos still where each utility protects. But to make the right investment decisions, am I going to put a storage in this section of the grid? Or should I build some additional generation here, you need that visibility? One of our partners, for example, just by using basic algorithms, is able to detect where somebody's charging a vehicle, they don't need lots of AI ml, just a basic algorithm validated to looking at energy consumption from A to C, are you charging? Then the utility can be armed with is my transformer overloaded? Or will the overload where should they reinforce the system? And, and not rely on guessing where the stuff is empirically see if and that's what that's part of the visibility journey, because as you said, assets were deployed, configured in a time where the variability didn't matter. There really wasn't. And, and yeah,


it was interesting, because that design of the utility infrastructure, whatever that looked like, had been around for 100 years. And and many of these utilities are subject to the regulatory agencies and the bodies in their little service territory, or whatever it might be. And therefore they're making decisions so that they don't get into trouble with their, their regulatory agency. And of course, you don't want the consumer to get all ticked off at you because you're delivering lousy power. So yeah, that is a data analytic type of solution and give us a little sort of, how does data analytics in this very dynamic system of the utilities work? I mean, it has to be that way, because I can't from a system operator. You know, okay, we need a little bit more generation here. Oh, we do this. It's impossible. There's no way take us through that journey.


So I was involved in the first smart metering program and tight and rates structure in the world. That was Ontario, we were the first mandated rollout, we learned a lot, a lot of lessons learned. And if you think about that was about 100 times more data than utilities used to collect for what folks are using this commodity they're producing. And what's happening now, a with with smart meter rollout and more advanced meters, that hat is growing by 10x to 40 times larger than even before it's just crazy. But utilities are using this information because they want to know what's happening really behind the meter. What's power quality, like voltage, all the phases, phase angles, so they want to have information not flying blind. Imagine a telco where you are getting a bill for your your consumption of have data and not tracking it? Well, that's what utilities were doing, even though how much energy you consumed or produced an appointed time, had a huge impact on the grid. Now you're getting that visibility. The challenge for utilities is how do we correlate that information to the connectivity model? To customer information to make sense of it? And then the other most important thing is, is it a high quality? Because meters malfunction, connectivity issues, bad data? How do I correct for it and deal with it in the right time, so I can make sense of it for billing, market settlements, fault detection, detecting electrical vehicles, most times in analysis journey, I find utility spending just on data cleansing, before even getting to a point of analyzing, so data quality context are probably the most important. And then put putting it all together in one place.


So as a utility, of course, I've got to ask the question. So I've been operating a certain way for forever, you know, that's pretty much it. I understand that there's that transformer out there. But I've been doing this forever. And and, and then you come knocking on the door, and saying, Hey, there's some other stuff happening here. There's some market forces impacting this, and we're gonna have this solar, we're gonna have this distributed sort of sit system out here, we're gonna have a micro grid over here. And and I don't even know, as a utility, where do I begin? What's, what's my step? And I would imagine it's case by case, right?


I completely agree with you, it's like what's most important to you? Do, I want to create a new rate structure for my customers, so give them choice. If that's the case, then I'm going to go back, I need to then collect this data and then summarize it into the various bucket that will allow me to build like, the telcos went through 2030 years ago, where you have different packages you can buy. And then utilities can do the same thing. I know I've got a choice, I can go on a fixed price type model, or I can go on to you rate model, or Texas has lots of sophisticated retail market and lots of choice there. So the other one is if vegetation management is a problem, ISIS, especially in California, and I saw some great case studies at distributech, where if you're analyzing a certain lines with at 15,000 measurements per second, so imagine a regular meter may capture that, say, 96 data points per day, this is 15,000 times a second, they're able to detect when a branch touches a wire, or whether it's disconnected whether you've got a safety incident, so they can roll a truck before it becomes an issue, and precisely detects where it is before, they would be guessing. So huge, if that's the problem, in some jurisdictions is less of a problem. So I prioritize the case and drive backwards. It may mean they may need some of the same technologies or techniques underneath the surface, but the driver may be different. Yeah, the


utility maintenance side is a big deal, I, again, my old hat, we would just sort of patrol the lines, and then we would look at the insulators from the ground. And then if that arm was sort of caddywhompus, then we realized that arms caddywhompus and we better go and change it and then the back to the the the office, and then you'd pick up on our menu come on out and you change it. It it's it's that whole vegetation management, maintenance of your assets is a huge deal to be able to see that and that again, is a data analytic conversation and insights and being able to do that in real time. Yeah, and I really got all geeked out on that one too at distributech because it knowing me I mean, you get a you get a relay need to go and have to patrol the line and then you say yeah, everything's fine


reenergize I have a friend who's in the asset management maintenance field known him for like 25 years expert in his field and he says you know, in the old days used to put your hand on the on an asset and and feel whether it needs attention. That was the sensing that we were doing.


We would go to tower by tower and hit it with our wrench and if it rattled, oh, we got some loose bolts. All you did say is like hey, we got some loose bolts, you're never gonna find them. He just got loose bolts. And that was all the time


and what I'm seeing whether it's Formula One racing or semiconductor manufacturing and these are the most more advanced areas you can apply this to any business is like high quality product is so critical high value So then they're putting sensors. At higher frequency. Think of it like high resolution TV, you're moved from 4k to 8k, you can see lot more, just like the micro PMQs. And or just the regular PMQs that have been deployed in the US, you see more things, you'd be blind because the hidden the average or some statistical value, like you want to see the raw data. And then you can see you can detect, you see, if you can't see you can't correct See, how


do you deal with the data tsunami? I mean, it's like, not all data is like high priority data. There's, there's a lot of bad data, Oh, not bad data, just nothing data. But you're you're still collecting, how do you deal with this tsunami of data so that you just, you know, so the state of Nevada is not one big cloud server?


Yeah, it, I learned this when I was at the ISO, because we were writing one of the world's first and largest of its kind, it says, And I saw the challenges with traditional approaches, most data went to some relational database, or some open source tech. But 90% of the data we're talking about here is time series data. That's a timestamp value, some other quality indicators that there's a different technique you apply for storing processing, analyzing it. So it's much more efficient, consumes less resources, less storage, less server farms, to do what you need to do with it. You just need a different paradigm for how you handle that type of data versus all the general purpose data utilities have been managing, till that point.


See, where do we go? Again, back to the utility and back to the necessity that these pressures are happening on their grid, they just are their batteries there? There's wind spin around solar on my, you know, roof, and so on and so forth. And they are, they're given the option. They're given consumers are given the option to say, Yeah, I got power, I'm going to, I'm going to wheel it during the peak, and then I'm gonna use whatever the thing is, how does? How does the utility ensure that they don't get ahead of their skis and all of this stuff is happening? And I can't, I can't keep up with it. How do what do we do? What sort of strategies can we deploy?


I think it's, it's both business and technical architecture. So say, Hey, I'm going to be in this business. So you appoint folks to lead this, they're just not surprised by it, and be reactive to say, Hey, this is going to happen. And then technology wise, who can I engage to help me with us live folks on staff that can architect for this plan for it, that tsunami, because once the two man a hits, you're not, you're going to be throwing dirt on the graph, you're not going to be able to deal with it. But if you plan for it, say, hey, this comes, whether it's six months ahead a year or half that you can do it, it's not a big of a challenge. But if you're, you've got, let's say, a month to do it, you'll you'll be challenged.


And yeah, yeah. What that sounds like to me, is, it's gonna happen, let's just let's just establish the fact that it's going to happen, whatever it is, this digital transformation of the utility is happening, and it's going to happen, and therefore, every utility, I don't care, big, small middle, I don't care must begin that engagement. But then again, the technology exists. It does, it's all good. Yeah, I find that it becomes a human equation. And you got to find the individual, person, Team company to help with that journey. And and, and be able to take a complex situation and make it work.


You're absolutely right. It is that imperative for change, because utilities are very conservative. I don't know how often I'd say try this initiative. No, no, the rates, regulated waterproof this, we're, we're happy the way we are. Unless you've got a blackout, then we'll invest, you know. But technology exists, it's really a people thing. Now, if you're challenged with staff internally, look for help outside, whether it's small utilities, there are new offerings with SAS providers that can do work. Like we're partnering with companies, like util smart, for example. They support small to medium sized companies. So the utility doesn't need to make a big investment yourselves. The large players like with 1,000,005 million customers, they've got large IT departments a low average size, they've got to a lot more tools, but small utilities, they have to partner much more heavily to accomplish the same thing.


Yeah, and it's interesting because because in all actuality, outside of ERCOT, everybody's connected in some way, shape or form. Yeah, and Small, mid or large, there is an interconnection that exists. And everybody has to be sort of rowing in the same direction to a certain extent, right? The small and the mid. But there's has to be the solutions, and there has to be people that they can trust. Now, with that said, I understand utilities are pragmatic. Yep, they are. Now, without a doubt, they're gonna, they're gonna drive the the adoption timeline here. Where is sort of that roadblock? It has to happen. We've already said it has to happen, and it is happening. But there are roadblocks, what are they?


I think it's the executive leadership of the utility is that is, doesn't wish to change. So you could be pitching to say, improve this business process, invest in cloud technology, or invest in anything, but unless they believe that this will help them and that they can do it, they're not going to do it. Sometimes it needs fresh ideas coming into the those teams. I've seen, even in a right across each other one utility had that executive vision, they have some of the best safety scores, some of the lowest operating costs in the area, it just phenomenal world class, they invest technology optimization, and another one that doesn't. And then, but their state shareholders use the municipality don't may not care as much so and they appointed executives that were not that. So I think that's probably the number


one thing as a consumer, because I'm a consumer, why is Why is digital transformation and and in being aware of this change taking place? Why is it important to me,


your bill, we are all faced with increasing electricity costs, not as much as our neighbors in Europe, where it's, it's insane. North America, we're blessed with a bit more resources. But cost and power quality, I think we are so dependent. I know, my parents just went and invested in a generator because they're out for too long, multiple times in the past year. So they said, I'm going to protect myself well, because they can't live without we want to charge our phones, you want to connect to the internet, this is we've become so connected dependent on electricity, that we care that that power quality is maintained and improved over time. And second, that the price is cost effective that you're not, you're not paying, you know, the price is like in the UK right now.


That's a whole nother story. But you're I think you're hitting on all cylinders there. Because I know that that I believe that there's this push for of course there's this push for for renewables and getting more renewable power on the grid and all that good stuff. I think the risk is that if if I'm a utility and I don't do a good job at at ensuring a stable, reliable grid, all of this other stuff means nothing because consumer me I'm not going to be happy because


number one, safety together. Cost is third. Alone, not the customer doesn't care like you don't have visibility where's my electron coming from? It's coming from could be nuclear could still be cold in some jurisdiction a gas natural gas you've got a diversified fleet and the customer is power's out. They're not in a gonna say hey, at least no we're not burning coal by power is out in Europe. Germany is now firing up coal.


Yeah. Nuclear so I'm because I'm upset. And I want to charge my phone and I and it's a hot day out there. So I am an AC and I that's I'm pretty rudimentary when it comes to my Maslow hierarchies of need, power, you know, don't and then we can talk about pie in the sky type stuff, but it is that's why that's why the utilities are tend to be very pragmatic. And thank you, thank you for being pragmatic. And I'll just because that's a but I think that the journey begins with the ability to be able to see that data and being able to use that data and to be able to tactically use the data to make better decisions and help me Joe consumer.


And I think also to protect themselves because there's consumers can move quickly, just in our neighbor I'm seeing I didn't see so many electric vehicles, where are they? Buying from there all guests are another, I've seen them more. And now I don't believe practically we're going to have the our entire fleet electrified, there's too much for us connect, but it will be a material impact that everyone starts charging at the same time on any system. See,


and even back when I was doing line work, we were talking about re conductor and because the demand was increasing the conductor in the transmission, but then that requires, you know, heavier conductor and redesign of towers. And you know what, it stayed the same, because nobody wanted to redesign the tower is bringing little you know, and it's not in my backyard. So it's a real dynamic. And again, I think it's a a data, data analytic conversation. And if I can create real insights like f one, real insights into the way my system is operating, then I can make decisions outside. Now, we do have to bring in new line here we got to do, there's, there's a little bit more information instead of just saying, Hey, we gotta bring in some more conductor.


And there's another thing from a cost perspective. So I did a project at the ISO, and it had to do and I learned too much we hired an engineer for contingency. So how do you fortify a grid, you've got first, second, third layer contingency. If this happens, you can do this. And guess that's like a tax on the whole power system that everyone pays for? Because you've got insurance across the board. And now with a much more dynamic system, do I am I going faster and more and more billions in on contingency? Or by really managing it better? By understanding what's going on every millisecond, every second, etc? So then you can adjust? Not, hey, I will just man that previous technique was you put contingency at the highest level and hope and managed to it, but it's expensive.


Yeah. So you know, I think you're spot on. I think you just have to greater insights into your, your existing grid, then you're able to make better decisions going forward? better financial decisions, whatever it might be, but But it starts there. It starts with Yeah, I see it. I see what's going on. Alright, we're gonna have to wrap it up. Przemek. Did I say that right? Again? Yes. Excellent. All right. How do people get a hold of you? And the same Gosh, he is speaking to my heart, which is probably me and maybe three others.


It looked me up on LinkedIn as well send me a note. You can email me at PT or And happy to engage with you.


And tastic fear not listeners, we're going to have all his contact information out on industrial talk. So don't don't come talk. Hey, by the way, look at me. I'm pending on I'm still pending my invitation you haven't accepted me that. deal here. You are absolutely wonderful. I love this conversation. I can go on and on and on. Thank you very much for what you guys do. That's pretty cool stuff. And we're gonna have to have you on again, because it today, it's this way, but tomorrow is going to be something different. I guarantee it because that's how fast things happen.


I look forward to it. All right,


listeners. We're gonna wrap it up on the other side, as you know, do not go away. We will be right back.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


All right, thank you once again, for joining industrial talk, an ever expanding problem solving ecosystem that's dedicated to educating, collaborating, and of course innovating. And you need to be a part of it. So go out to industrial a thank you to Przemek Tomczak. Hey, X. See, I love that conversation. It is a data conversation. And there's a lot more to I mean, you just have got to be engaged. You got to collaborate because things are happening so fast. It's, it's blistering. It is all right. Again, I'm gonna pump you gotta be if you're in manufacturing IMTS that is September 12 through the 17th. And it is in Chicago. Nope, no problem there. Be a part of that because we're going to be broadcasting with IMTS plus. Get on it, man. It'd be great. All right. People be braved are greatly hanging out with people like Shrek and you're gonna change the world. Thank you very much for joining. We're gonna have another great conversation shortly.

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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