Executive take: the OpEx Opportunity Remains Strong

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If you’re wondering when the economy will return to high-growth in capital expenditures for building automation, data center infrastructure, and other products needed during boom times, you may be overlooking a big chunk of the current trend, according to top U.S. executives with Schneider Electric featured in a recent series of video reports.

A common theme voiced by the executives is that helping companies with operational efficiency with existing assets remains a key focus for Schneider Electric, even with some encouraging signs for long-term growth. The videos, published online by CFE Media’s Consulting-Specifying Engineer, can be found here.

Among the specific insights in the reports:

  • Jim Sandelin, senior vice president, Buildings Business Americas, called helping companies with energy efficiency for existing buildings a “huge opportunity” because 40 percent of a typical building’s operating expense is around energy. In the video, he also noted that while 75 percent of buildings have some form of building automation, only about 20 percent of the market has “smart building technology” that aggregates key data and helps make intelligent decisions.
  • Allen Breeze, senior vice president, U.S. Power Business, noted that capital expenditure on infrastructure remains down from its heyday by about 15 to 20 percent. However, added Breeze in the video report, there is steady business in retrofitting and improving the efficiency of the more than nine million existing commercial buildings in the country.
  • Don Rickey, senior vice president for the U.S. Infrastructure Business, was interviewed for an update on “The electrical infrastructure business.” According to Rickey, smart grid initiatives are a major driver for electrical infrastructure, and Schneider Electric, because of history of servicing both electrical utilities and end user companies, is well positioned to serve a facilitator role in these efforts. For end-user companies, Rickey recommended energy audits as a way to better understand costs and use patterns in preparation for smart grid practices such as load shifting when demand in a region runs high.
  • Jeff Drees, U.S. Country President, in a report on “Top Engineering Trends,” said a positive factor for long-term growth is the revival of key industry sectors in theU.S., driven in part by the availability of cheap and abundant natural gas supplies. This trend is known as “reindustrialization,” noted Drees, and is occurring in verticals as steel, automotive, and petrochemicals. There will be the need to add capacity and facility upgrades as part of reindustrialization, said Drees, but solution providers will be under pressure to configure solutions that are much more innovative and cost effective than those installed in previous eras.