The process of selecting start-ups to join Total's new incubator, "Plant 4.0.," kicks off today! Budding entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to the jury during three sessions spanning France and the United States. Only 10 will be chosen to speed up the introduction of digital technologies in our production activities. We revisit the launch of the Plant 4.0. incubator with Juliette de Maupeou, Digital Officer Industry at Total.
What will the start-ups incubated in Plant 4.0 work on?
Juliette de Maupeou / The incubator we're going to launch is the first to work on industrial digital technology. That means we expect candidate start-ups to propose and develop products or services foreshadowing the plant of the future. In practical terms, we're going to select around 10 start-ups offering innovative digital solutions in two areas that can add value to Total's industrial activities: asset optimization and operator augmentation. Digital isn't an end in itself. It's a driver that can deliver improvements in three areas: safety, operational performance and cost reduction.
Why turn to start-ups to move forward on digital? And why now?
J. de M. / For Total, it's interesting to see how these green shoots view our industrial processes, and where they think they spot opportunities, needs and even pain points. We expect a fresh take from them, with nothing off the table. Lastly, we have everything to gain by working with such agile organizations, which are very quick to come up with something to show customers. A product, or a demonstrator that can confirm a need and let us move ahead faster. But that doesn't mean we're not making progress internally. There are already more than 70 industrial digital initiatives at Total! With all that input to work with, we're preparing a roadmap for 2020 and have launched a co-development process to that end with operational managers from all segments, to address the topic.
How will the incubation program play out?
J. de M. / Each start-up will begin with a six-month observation and discussion phase to test its concept against professional field requirements, guided by a Total mentor. Next, if we decide its proposal is interesting and meets our needs, the start-up will kick off its pilot implementation phase, tailored to a specific site but with the goal of replicating the pilot wherever possible. Creative ideas abound these days, but few really take shape. The incubator exists to speed up the deployment of digital applications at Total, by coming up with concrete actions that can create value. Although it's important to envision the plant of the future, it's just as important to accelerate the deployment of tangible projects right now.
Speaking of which, what do you see the plant of the future looking like, in 2030?
J. de M. / That's the whole point of the incubator initiative, to sketch out the general outlines. That said, I must emphasize that digital is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve our industrial goals. Lastly, the plant of the future won't just be more digital. It will also be more environmentally friendly, energy efficient and accepted by the community.