Creative thinking and the challenging of established patterns is essential to knock down walls, open up new channels and find new solutions, but achieving the goal involves taking on risks.
“To achieve success you need to go further, advance, take risks. You cannot carry on doing what you always do, in the same way it has always been done, and expect to find innovative results. You need to stand out from the pack and develop your own products and solutions”, says Dominion's R&D+i coordinator Alfonso J. Palacios.
Innovation is a basic pillar in the strategy of Dominion, a company based on knowledge of technology and productive processes, and also its ability to carry out industrial research and partnerships with key scientific stakeholders such as research centres and universities to help improve the efficiency of its clients' processes.
“We are a company with a technological soul and we support our clients in the transformation process that is affecting all sectors. In the R&D+i sequence, the most important elements for us are the 'D' of development and the 'i' of innovation”, Palacios adds.
The TRL (Technology Readiness Level) scale is the system used to measure the levels of technological maturity and proximity to the market of a particular development. The lowest TRLs (TRL1-TRL4) are aimed at the creation of knowledge and experimental proof of concept tests, and are carried out in a laboratory. The middle-range TRLs (TRL5-TRL6) are for developing prototypes and demonstration models in operational environments, and finally the highest TRLs (TRL7-TRL9) are applied to the development of marketable products and services tested in real environments.
“In Dominion we are connected to the levels closest to the market, from industrial research (TRL3) and experimental development to the launch of an innovative product (TRL9). Our R&D+i is clearly oriented towards generating efficiency and improving productivity”, Palacios points out.
Proximity to the market and alliances, the keys to success
One of the key factors for Dominion to work efficiently and obtain differentiating results is its proximity to the market. The needs, trends and opportunities that emerge in the different areas of business are the driving force behind R&D+i in the company. Though the technology watch and competition surveillance developed by its divisions, we detect the priority areas for deploying research, development and innovation projects that can provide an efficient response to the needs of the business fabric.
At present, the company has defined nine lines of research -each one headed by a different technical expert- that focus on the areas of Smart Factory, hospital management and medical decision-making support systems, artificial vision, the automation of banking systems, the development of platforms to manage technical services, meteorological observation systems to trigger early warnings, the development of artificial intelligence for the automation of marketing and e-commerce, Smart Data for air traffic control and smart services for energy savings in the home.
“Our proximity, contact and ongoing dialogue with the market mean that we can detect opportunities. We analyse the most advanced technologies and developments in the field and then take them further”, says Alfonso.
Another feature the defines R&D+i in Dominion is the setting of specific objectives that promote in-house products and offer the best possible service to our clients so that they can work efficiently and obtain results that help them stand out.
The organization of the research groups, which have a stable structure, and the creation of a team of specialized external consultants who provide guidance and advice to ensure the correct performance of the projects are other pillars on which R&D+i in the company are based.
However, one of the characteristics that Dominion clearly attaches great importance to is the creation of alliances and partnership agreements with a variety of stakeholders to guarantee dynamism and multidisciplinarity.
“Our R&D+i is based on cooperation with universities and research centres. Looking for partners and creating joint ventures based on the synergies of the participants is the way to achieve the best developments. We hold the Presidency of the Vicomtech technology centre and we also work with public institutions that support us in financing projects”, Palacios explains.
A model that pays off
Many solutions emerge as the result of Dominion's R&D+i activity. One of them is Proalert, an early warning system for natural disasters. The system provides a response to the needs of certain countries that suffer from tsunamis and need to have a solution that can alert the population via sirens, the media, emergency and telephone notifications, and all in a secure and efficient way.
Another success story of Dominion is the Proefficiency project, which led to the creation of a management, monitoring and analysis system for energy consumption in industrial facilities that enables reductions in production costs. This development is operational in the plants of major automotive manufacturers, a sector that demands an ongoing commitment to innovation to ensure its competitiveness.