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Enel and Alesea: IoT technology for supply chain optimization

Enel and Alesea: IoT technology for supply chain optimization

Having a meaningful impact on complex supply chains is a key part of Enel’s sustainable mission. Collaborating with Alesea’s IoT devices has improved efficiency and reduced costs.


The world is more connected than ever. Analysts estimate that a whopping 127 new devices are connected to the internet every second. As humans, we are increasingly digital, and so it’s no surprise that the Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly becoming a popular resource for businesses, households, and day-to-day activities. According to Statista, 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things by 2030.

In the supply chain industry, IoT devices are an effective way of tracking and authenticating products and shipments, using GPS and other technologies. Managing the supply chain for utilities can involve multiple contractors, expensive assets, and slow turnaround, leading to rising costs and increasing complications.

To face this challenge, Endesa, the Enel Group’s Spanish subsidiary, has initiated a collaboration with the startup Alesea, thanks to the Enel Innovation Hub. Together, they’ve been able to implement an IoT solution that has a digital impact on complex supply chains, reducing costs and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of core assets, specifically for cable and drum inventory management.


Digitally connected for real-time value

Alesea is a startup that was founded in 2019 by the Italian electrical cable producer, Prysmian Group, and its venture builder, Corporate Hangar. The technology acts as a virtual assistant, transforming the cable drum from a simple package into an intelligent asset that improves the efficiency of customer operations and inventory management.

Cable drums are round objects that are used for moving and storing all kinds of wire products, such as electrical cables. However, these drums are currently difficult to track, store, and manage. The solution Alesea developed includes an IoT position tracker in the drum that’s linked to an intuitive interface, providing data to a cloud platform, and transmitting the asset’s status across various dimensions.

Giovanni Berti, Alesea’s CEO says that “the original idea came from Salli Hara-Haikkala, the CEO at Prysmian Sweden, following a conversation with a client.” He adds: “The goal was to build a compelling value proposition that would go beyond locating drums, to provide a complete asset-management solution for cable inventory.”


When it comes to the supply chain for utilities, close collaboration and effective partnerships are crucial for obtaining data, extracting valuable information, and avoiding complex procedures. It’s important to enhance this multi-stakeholder supply chain with real-time data that optimizes time, costs, and overall production efficiencies. “Connectivity between platforms, the smart use of data, and IoT are going to become increasingly important and more widely adopted, so we wanted to introduce a solution that would offer clients value and help them become more sustainable, competitive, and cost-effective,” says Berti.


A successful and sustainable collaboration

After a year-long trial carried out on hundreds of drums throughout Spain, Alesea’s solution had a significant sustainable impact on Endesa’s supply chain, which can be scaled up globally. The technology showed the potential to: reduce 400 tons of CO2 per year, give real-time visibility over stock and usage (allowing for ‘just-in-time’ stock to improve cable-working capital), increase drum return to manufacturers, reduce the empty time spent in the field, promote circular economy principles, generate real-time insights, and manage the evolution of construction projects remotely, while checking for any variations.

The testing phase was able to enhance supply chain operations. Furthermore, the initiative highlighted the value that IoT cable and drum inventory management solutions can add to production processes and the digital transformation.

How did Enel ensure the success of this collaboration? From the design of the initial MVP of the solution to the final testing phase, the innovation team worked with Alesea through an open and transparent exchange in all use cases. By continually sharing the best practices on supply chain management and the lessons learned, Alesea was able to develop a deeper understanding of Enel’s processes, customizing their offer in order to generate a higher operational impact. Working with startups is more than a collaboration: it’s a long-term co-creation process that’s focused on investing in future returns, while constantly embracing change, resilience, and flexibility to overcome challenges.


IoT is molding the future of supply chains

IoT is constantly improving the speed and reliability of data management. By supplying real-time inventory visibility, actionable notifications, and information on an asset’s location, status, history, usage and handling conditions, the solution is proof that technology is evolving to make our jobs more efficient.

“Thanks to this proof of-concept with Alesea, we adopted an innovative IoT solution into our business that contributes to the tracking of materials and enhances the supply chain performance of electrical cables and drums,” says Lourdes Garcia Duarte, a Sustainable Network Design and Resilience Innovation Partner, who adds: “Consequently, we will be able to optimize the shipment of materials and reduce the carbon footprint of the related operations, thereby taking another step towards a net-zero power grid”.