Interview of Thibault Goulin, Head Of digital solutions at Nexans.

What is the impact of COVID-19 crisis on the cable drum sector?

In the cable drum sector, we noticed an acceleration in the digitalization of activities. This acceleration comes from the need of improving cash-flow through the reduction of stock and a better management of capital assets. Our clients who have been affected by the crisis need to limit losses but also optimize the assets turnaround rate.

This crisis also had an impact on Nexans as we decided to equip all the drums whose size would be superior to 1.90 m with the same objective of reducing drums losses and optimize the turnaround rate. It is also very important in term of sustainable impact to optimize the whole flow of drums and make it more efficient.

Despite the crisis, we did not really notice a reduction of activities as the construction sites have been maintained and companies quickly went back to work after the confinement period. So, what we can say is that the digitalization of activities in the cable sector has been confirmed and accelerated during the crisis.

What specific needs from the cable industry do you address through your connected drums solution?

Nexans has developed its presence in 34 countries in multiple sectors. The client’s needs are very different from a country to another so our work is to provide a solution which is adapted to our client’s specificities.

As for example, more than 5 000 drums have been equipped by Nexans with ffly4u’s sensors in Switzerland. On this specific geographical zone, our client is more focused on the financial aspect which means the reduction of idle times, the monitoring of drums flow in real time, a better management of stock, optimize activities etc. All this information make possible to automize the whole chain from production to the end of the construction site but also monitor activities in real time, which is especially interesting in town where the regulation is particularly tough. This is a full solution as we also offer services of collecting and recycling drums which is part of a circular economy model.

We also address business needs of global players (metro project in Dubai, oil platforms in Russia etc.). We help the leaders of the sector to monitor complex flows between multiple actors. It also facilitates the follow-up of subcontractor’s activities who might be involved in the whole process.

Thanks to our work with emerging countries, we also developed a new function as there is a huge demand to avoid the theft of cable drums. We implemented an alert system to identify any suspect movements during the night for example which reduced significantly the number of thefts.

In a few words, we provide this solution to very different markets but we are able to adapt our services to each use case with the same technology.

What do you plan for the next 3 years in term of deployment of your solution?

So far, the connected drum solution has been deployed in 11 countries. There is a real business need which has been clearly identified in the cable industry and Nexans is the leader on the market. On a short-term basis, we plan to duplicate the solution to reach 15 000 connected drums by the end of 2020, and 100 000 units in the next 3 years on a global level.

Tomorrow, we will focus more on the data. We actually make the cable drum smart by creating data which increases significantly value on construction sites. The technology allows our clients to know, as for example, the residual cable length on a drum at the end of the day.

Another important point is the platform which is used by our clients to collect the data. So far, this platform has been managed by Nexans but tomorrow, we want our customers to be able to manage it and customize it on their side depending on their specific needs.

To sum up, Nexans addresses very different markets so our role is to provide a customized solution which is adapted to our clients’ specific business needs.

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