November 1, 2021
By Blake Marchand
Earlier this year Schneider Electric launched their Altivar Process ATV6000 medium voltage variable frequency drive (VFD) to the Canadian market. With that product launch, they also announced a partnership with REV to provide local customization as well as installation and support for the product. REV has an existing history with the company as part of Schneider’s Critical Power EcoXpert partner program specializing in power systems solutions and power quality. Which, along with REV’s market presence, made for an ideal partnership.
Sanjith Singh, Schneider Electric Canada’s VP of Industrial Automation, described the partnership as a strategic first step to support the launch of the project, adding that the company will look to form similar regional partnerships across Canada. Singh and REV Principle, Shawn Oldenburger both stressed the importance of combining global and local expertise.
“Due to the complexity of medium voltage installation and integration into plants, EcoStruxure, and the ecosystems that exist; it was very important for us to find a partner, especially in Western Canada, that could help us with the that level of integration,” commented Singh on the partnership, adding that, “We also wanted to capitalize on a company that was established in the Western Canadian market, with a good footprint in terms of customer presence.”
“In meeting with Shawn and his team, we liked the value proposition that REV brings to the market. It’s very much aligned with what Schneider wants to do with a customer first mindset and being technologically advanced, so I think it was a good fit for us,” said Singh.
“We expanded with Schneider quite a bit, we’re an EcoXpert with them on medium voltage equipment and power quality, and it just made sense for us to get the access to the medium voltage drive through Schneider. We’ve been chasing something like that to complete our portfolio, and it made a lot of sense for us to team up on the drive, because we’re working so closely with them right now,” said Oldenburger, discussing why pursuing a partnership Schneider was important for REV.
“The R&D that Schneider puts into a lot of their products is a global R&D, at REV that allows us to leverage that and add the local customization for the Western Canadian market. That’s one of the big things that we see as the value of Schneider and REV working together.”
The medium voltage VFDs are primarily targeted for REV’s mining clients as well as their oil and gas clients in the oil sands, noted Oldenburger. Singh added that the product and partnership is meant to represent a broader focus on the medium voltage market for Schneider.
The product has previously launched globally before being brought into Canada. We asked Singh why it was important to bring the Altivar VFD to Canada and what aspects will contribute to success for the product:
“There’s a couple of things. One: we’re leading with bringing great value to our customers, there’s a full basket of goods. If you look at the Schneider portfolio, we have medium voltage drives, medium voltage switchgear, low voltage drives, automation and control, and power distribution. So, it made sense to bring in the medium voltage VFD because it completed our portfolio in Canada.”
“The other thing is that we really believe in putting the customer first and leading with services. We have an engineered product in the medium voltage VFD, because of its level of specialization, and the capabilities we have within our services organization. We believe we can position ourselves as a market leader by being a service driven medium voltage offering.”
Given that emphasis on value-added services, Schneider needs to have expert partners in the various local markets where their products are being deployed. With the added support of companies like REV, they are able to provide a product that is tailored for use in that locale as well as provide on-site support.
“From the product perspective, we believe we have a really technologically advanced product. One of the biggest mitigating factors in medium voltage variable frequency drives is harmonic distortion, which is, for lack of a better word, dirty power. Schneider has a great value proposition and a great product that leads with low harmonic distortion,” said Singh.
In line with that service-based approach, Schneider’s extended five-year warranty accounts for all service requirements, “We’ve taken our warranty and customized it to create a package that allows the customer to have a full maintenance portfolio over a 5-year period.”
The aim for Schneider is to grab hold of the market by addressing a key concern within that market.
“We are very much a digital company, so even with our medium voltage drive, which is a big component, we still take the medium voltage part and digitize it with use of our asset advisors and cloud-based services. It really is a culmination of technology with existing market needs and a service-oriented offer,” said Singh.
The goal is to “prescribe” or simulate what failure could look like given the specific parameters of that client’s assets, resources, and application. “And help them mitigate that (failure) through preventative maintenance and prescriptive maintenance.”
The second part of their digital advisors is sustainability, which is also a core component to Schneider’s business. Optimizing efficiency in equipment operation protects the life cycle of the product, saves on consumption, and ultimately strengthens the investment by providing additional cost savings related to energy use, mitigating unplanned downtime, and prolonging the life of the equipment with preventative/prescriptive maintenance.
The core strength of Schneider Electric, Singh noted, is addressing clients’ needs with sustainably driven solutions, to take pressure off the grid and reduce consumption while improving operations.
The digital component is industry leading for Oldenburger, too, who noted the style of drive is popular in Western Canada. The added operational benefit of EcoStruxure differentiates the product, he said.
“The other thing we’re hearing from clients we’re talking to, some of the major players in the oil sands, is that local service is critical.” Service isn’t always there, noted Oldenburger, “Whereas REV will always be local in Alberta.”