The company as a Stakeholder
The management of company assets
Acea protects and valorises its tangible and intangible assets, seeking a sustainable financial position and governing the internal needs, linked to the operational management and the growth prospects, consistently with the aims expressed in the business mission and the strategic plan.
In 2018 investments totalled € 630.8 million, up 18.5% (€ 532.3 million in 2017). Analysing their breakdown by business area, note: the Environment segment with € 20 million for the expansion of the Monterotondo Marittimo plant, for works on the WtE plants in Terni and San Vittore and for works on the waste treatment and biogas production site in Orvieto; the Commercial and Trading segment for € 5.3 million; the Water segment for € 329.7 million relating to reclamation and expansion works on water and sewerage pipes in the areas served, extraordinary maintenance of water centres and works on treatment and recovery of water leaks; the Energy Infrastructure segment with € 238.3 million for revamping of the Mandela Castel Madama hydroelectric power plant, expansion of the district heating network in the south of Rome and works on the HV/MV/ LV networks for expansion and maintenance. Finally, the Parent Company with investments for about €10 million.
CHART NO. 41 – DISTRIBUTION OF INVESTMENTS BY MACRO AREAS (2017-2018)
Protection of assets and management of internal risks
The protection of the company’s assets, the prevention of fraud and compliance with current security regulations, with particular reference to the protection of privacy and sensitive data (GDPR Regulation 2016/679) are handled by the Risk & Compliance Function, which includes the Company Protection Unit.
To this Unit is entrusted the task of defining and disseminating the guidelines and polities in terms of safeguarding and protection of property and of coordinating the implementation of plans for the continuity of operation and management of emergencies prepared by the competent structures and Companies of the Group.
The Unit carries out the measures aimed at ensuring an adequate level of security on the company’s premises, managing the security and reception facilities and personnel, and controlling the Security Room (SS), the video surveillance, anti-intrusion and alarm systems active within the company.
In 2018, a procedure was defined for accessing premises with a reception service.
In collaboration with the relevant structures and companies of the Group, the Unit also coordinates the proper performance of the activities required by judicial authorities, the security institutions and the police.
The central ICT systems are essential for the operational continuity of the services provided. Acea therefore has a management plan in place for emergencies that result in the systems being unavailable. It includes specific guidelines that specifies the operations necessary to minimise the duration of the systems’ unavailability.
The Business furthermore adopts guidelines and procedures at Group level for IT security and for the protection of the business’ information assets (information and data processed), that define the principles of behaviour, which employees and collaborators must adhere to, the arrangements for use of computer, electronic and digital resources (such as access to the internet, e-mail, PC, etc.) and the controls aimed at combating possible computer crimes.
During the year, a procedure was defined for the management of access to the Acea Group’s IT systems with the aim of unambiguously identifying all internal and external users authorised to access IT systems, guaranteeing access to IT systems and data in line with the tasks assigned, tracing workflows and determining a structured governance of system authorisations.
Also in 2018, following the indications of the Ministry for Economic Development (MISE) and the Information Department for Safety/Security (DIS), Acea has focused on the extension of protections within the cyberspace domain, furthermore improving the measures for the protection of networks and SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) devices, already present.
The commitment to research and innovation
Scientific and technological innovation at the service of business processes is one of the pillars of the Group’s strategic planning, which in 2018 recorded total investments of approximately € 9.3 million.
In order to achieve the challenging innovation objectives, in 2018 the Open Innovation Unit was set up within the Innovation, Technology and Solutions Function of Acea SpA. Its task is to manage the Group’s line of innovation in accordance with industrial and financial strategies and in agreement with the various Departments and Functions of the parent and Group companies.
In order to systematise and coordinate the process, an Innovation Model was created that establishes guidelines and frameworks at a Group level to coordinate, manage and develop innovation, defining governance (management of the phases and methods of involvement of internal and external actors), processes (standardisation of the phases of engagement of internal and external actors) and tools (offering support in the different phases of the innovation framework).
In accordance with the Group’s Innovation Model, in 2018 periodic meetings were organised with the heads of innovation in each industrial segment to discuss and liaise with them. A mapping of existing and planned innovative projects was produced, followed by a classification thereof according to the business of reference, the technology implemented and the level of innovation.
In addition, in order to enhance the value of the Group’s patent and innovation assets, a study of the intellectual property portfolio was launched.
In 2018, a patent was filed for industrial inventions relating to the remote reading device for water meters (equipped with pulse device) with NB-IoT technology.
In addition, during the year innovation initiatives were launched with positive repercussions on customers, infrastructure and personnel.
With regard to the customer stakeholder, for example, the projects concerned the accessibility and inclusiveness of customers with different forms and degrees of disability; in the area of infrastructure, experiments were done with blockchain technology in peer-to-peer energy exchange, and, in the water area, a project for finding hidden leaks using traditional techniques (acoustic) and testing of innovative techniques (Noise Logger and Satellite Radar Interferometry). For the benefit of the personnel, an experiment was carried out to improve the safety of operators in the field, and more generally activities were organised to involve employees through workshops and idea generation sessions on innovation topics in line with the Group Leadership Model (see also the chapter on Personnel, section Human capital development and communications).
By way of example, the boxes below illustrate some of the main research and innovation projects carried out in 2018 in the Group’s various Industrial Areas. In any case, remember also what was illustrated above in the paragraph Relations with institutions, and in particular in the sub-paragraphs Some projects for the development of the territory and The comparison with the reference context, see also the chapter Customers and the community, paragraph Quality provided and the section Relations with the environment.
Research and innovation in the corporate segment
During the year, the Innovation, Technology and Solutions Function of Acea SpA, with the involvement of all the Industrial Segments, carried out 10 experiments:
- Green Data Centre, a software for energy savings used by the servers of the Acea data centre;
- Emotional Marketing, methods of analysis for the creation of an emotional positioning map of employees;
- two experiments involving innovative solutions for the Dashboard analysing the company’s performance, with collaboration functions, push notifications and chatbots with artificial intelligence;
- Apps on smartphones to increase the safety of lone operators by identifying a state of danger and situations of “man down”
- Blockchain in the new energy market for the creation of a blockchain-based system to certify energy exchanges between producer-storage-consumer and assign penalties or bonuses based on the effects produced on the network in terms of phase shift and voltage (see also the chapter Customers and the community);
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for the automation of some of the purchasing processes;
- CrowdTesting solutions, in the context of User Experience for the new Acea Energia website;
- two experiments with virtual reality applications.
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION IN THE ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE SEGMENT
As part of its electricity distribution activities, in 2018 Areti developed numerous innovative projects, including:
- the digitisation of stations and substations, relevant for the definition of station architecture necessary for the integration of the various systems related to the many services needed for operation (e.g. remote control, measurement, sensors), maximising automation;
- the search for grid leaks, with the definition of specific algorithms to measure/ estimate grid leaks at low voltage;
- the Drone project, which was definitively launched in 2018, with the development of a remotely piloted drone system for the periodic inspection of the status of overhead electrical lines managed by the company;
- the intelligent helmet for testing protective helmets equipped with sensors, cameras and augmented reality views for interventions in the field by operating personnel;
- advanced multiservice meters (Proteus project) for the remote reading of meters through the use of tablets to support the WFM; the project is in the field operation phase and a patent for industrial invention was filed during the year;
- 2G multifunctional smart metering for the development of a multiservice concentrator for first generation electronic meters duly re-engineered, configured for the acquisition of second generation meters and to be integrated with a third unit for 169/868 MHz RF communication.
Research and innovation in the water segment
In collaboration with Acea Elabori, Acea Ato 2 carried out technological and digital research and innovation during the year with the aim of improving operational performance.
With regard to process innovation in the management of water distribution networks, cutting edge techniques – satellite, noise recorder and fibre optics used to search for hidden leaks (Noise Logger and Satellite Radar Interferometry) – were tested and 4,696 km of network were divided into districts, with the integration of a mathematical model for the preparation of pressure control valves and the installation of instrumentation for advanced remote management.
With regard to wastewater treatment, the main projects concerned:
- A study of innovative sludge reduction technologies and the experimental implementation of an ozonolysis system at the Ostia treatment plant;
- Optimisation of the anaerobic sludge digestion sectors, recently activated at some of the major treatment plants, also with respect to the sludge’s biomethanisation power (primary, secondary, etc.);
- research into emerging organic micropollutants (EOMs) to limit their release into the natural environment as they are potentially dangerous (steroids and illicit drugs);
- the development of models to reduce odours emitted into the atmosphere by the plants managed.
As for the protection of water, with regard to the areas supplying drinking water, hydrogeological and hydrological models were developed to identify areas requiring protection (areas requiring absolute protection, respect and safeguarding) within the catchment areas and the recharge areas of the Capore springs water table. Satellite monitoring of the protection areas has also continued, aimed at detecting morphological variations (new buildings, earth movements and others) and carrying out the related inspections.
Finally, the Water Management System (WMS) project was developed and is currently being implemented: a powerful, user-friendly web tool capable of representing, analysing, monitoring and reporting huge amounts of data and information from multiple information systems (GIS-SAP-SCADA).
Research and innovation in the environment segment
In 2018 in the Environment Segment the following research and innovation activities are highlighted:
- the development of a solution aimed at recovering sodium bicarbonate and calcium chloride dihydrate (by-products of reaction) from the treatment of the Residual Sodium Product (RSP) resulting from the neutralisation of acid fumes produced by the waste-to-energy plants;
- the implementation of a thermo-visio-camera technology model for monitoring and activating fire-fighting equipment in the storage areas for the Secondary Solid Fuel (CSS) in the Acea Ambiente waste-to-energy plant located in the municipality of San Vittore del Lazio.