21 Oct 2020

Albert Vilardaga at the Innovators Club of Girbau LAB

Albert Vilardaga, president and co-founder of the company Createch360º, explains the operational challenges and solutions of the intelligent management in the wastewater treatment sector at the Girbau LAB Innovators Club in the online session held on October 15.

Createch360º, a company specialized in the design and implementation of intelligent control solutions across the energy – water nexus, has developed intelligent software that allows data to be monitored, analyzed and provided solutions to optimize the treatment process, contributing to
energy savings in these plants.

Createch360º offer innovative solutions to solve the operational challenges of his customers, driving efficient and sustainable installations through the implementation of CREA® intelligent monitoring and control platforms.

Its technology incorporates artificial intelligence that, according to the data analysis, is capable of reproducing patterns and predicting behaviors, in this way it is possible to correct parameters and contribute to reducing operational costs.

With 158 installations worldwide, experience in the sector and continuous innovation, Createch360º guarantees high added-value solutions enabling utilities and industrial users to achieve maximum efficiency and facilities performance.

Beyond the presentation, Albert Vilardaga delves into some ideas through the interview we share below. Vilardaga explains the keys to understanding how technology, innovation and data monitoring are currently being applied in wastewater treatment, and details what improvements in efficiency and sustainability, he sees for the laundry industry in the next 5 years.

1.- How is innovation linked to wastewater treatment?

Closing the loop and converting wastewater into potable or drinking water is pure innovation. The availability and good quality of water has become such an absolutely normal and daily fact that we often forget everything behind it. The last decades of R + D have allowed us to have the knowledge
and technology so that water, in most western countries, is no longer a problem of quality and availability. Even so, there are still great challenges to solve, especially related to operational efficiency or the improvement of treatments so that wastewater becomes a new source of resources or
generates new uses.

2.- What is the value of open innovation in a data management context?

An element as transversal as water, causes the existence of a multitude of agents at a global level that generate knowledge in this area. Companies, research centers and public administrations collaborate intensively, sharing data and knowledge to advance in the great challenges of the sector. Data has become the pillar on which much of the knowledge that we are developing pivots, favored by the emergence of technologies that allow us to connect equipment (IoT, M2M, etc.), process large volumes of data (artificial intelligence models or Machine learning) and draw conclusions to improve processes (intelligent control,
cognitive automation, etc.). However, we also face a great contradiction. In the era in which we are making the most progress towards sharing data and knowledge, great fears and dangers related to cybersecurity are emerging. This trade-off will surely mark an open innovation linked to data in
the coming years.

3.- How is intelligent monitoring applied to Createch360º?

For a company like ours that develops intelligent process control software, monitoring is a key factor. As much as we have a great control on technology, we will not be able to make optimal decisions if the data, that the raw material is on which we make decisions, is not good, reliable or of sufficient quality. In this sense, we are dedicating many resources to being able to filter, validate and in case of absence simulate the data that we monitor for the optimal
operation of processing control logic. The “brain” of the control is nourished in real time by a large multitude of data linked to [1] water quality parameters, [2] operation and performance of the equipment we control or [3] other external factors such as the evolution of the cost of energy or prediction of rain, among others. Efficient monitoring of all these parameters are a very relevant part, without a good raw material (data) it is difficult to define a successful operation strategy.

4.- What is the optimal way to promote joint innovation between a corporation and a startup?

The best way I know of to do this is by identifying an area of common interest, a need in the form of a project, or a vision. Once this element is well defined, the rest is to understand the skills and resources of each of the actors.
Often the startup brings highly specialized knowledge in one aspect as well as great agility in development. A large corporation, beyond a proven experience, provides method, resources and industrial scalability to achieve common objectives.

5.- What is the most effective way to develop innovation in a company?

Each company and sector are different. In our case, we have the origin of the company in university research and that therefore, our DNA is fully marked by R + D, innovation is the whole team. We do not have an R + D department, in almost all the projects we work on, the participation of people from all the company’s departments is key. This transversal and joint vision to innovate is undoubtedly one of the key success factors for our company.

6.- What improvements in efficiency and sustainability do you see for the laundry industry in the next 5 years?

In the same way that in the field of water treatment the emergence of technologies related to digitization and advanced data analysis is having a great impact, I am sure, that in the field of industrial laundry it will be practically the same. It will be necessary to understand the applicability and benefits that these cross-sectional technologies can have in a vertical field such as the laundry industry. Surely, there are new efficiencies to explore through the use of sensors and real-time data, as well as better connectivity between technologies and users through digitization.

7.- How will clothes be washed in 2050?

I would like it to wash itself and in the most sustainable way possible. Aware that the challenge is ambitious, everyone who approaches will satisfy me.