At Prysmian, research and development (R&D) is key to the innovation and production of the technology that drives our growth. Speaking to internationally renowned Wired magazine, Marcelo Andrade, Head of R&D at the Group, gave an insight into how his team works to develop the most advanced technologies, whilst simultaneously enhancing sustainability and fostering human talent.
In the cable industry, Andrade explained to Wired, “Innovation doesn’t just mean designing and manufacturing better and more competitive products and systems, but also working to improve other connected areas of the company, such as logistics or accounts.”
In a highly regulated field, Andrade concedes, “There is still much to do… both in terms of design and the materials we use in the manufacturing of cables.” Prysmian has demonstrated its commitment to innovation with significant capital investment devoted to R&D: some €70million per year across 17 global research centres. Today, Prysmian Group boasts dominance in the technology associated with High-Voltage-Direct Current cable systems (with a recently announced record of 600Kv). In the field of submarine power connections, the Group operates at the forefront of installation, laying cables at record depths. Andrade was also keen to highlight that the importance of cables in power transport distribution and communication is often underestimated, largely because cables is a B2B industry and installation is often subterranean, under the sea bed or requires concealment in buildings. In reality, our cables are found throughout the modern world, so maintaining a focus on the best available technology, sustainability and quality is critical.
Currently, Prysmian is working on projects with implications for both the medium and very-long-term future of the industry. The focus is chiefly in the nanotechnologies field, with the aim of identifying and obtaining new materials that promise extremely high levels of performance. “We work with graphene, carbon nanotubes and nanofiller, to mention just a few,” Andrade explains. “All those materials bring their own dynamic to our product offering, just as individual spices do in a recipe. This allows us to provide something unique and distinguish ourselves from competitors.”
In the field of power transmission products and systems, Prysmian is working towards using ever-higher voltages. Here too, materials can make an appreciable difference: Andrade explains, “They have to be lightweight, but also exhibit the highest mechanic performance.” He is keen to highlight how Prysmian goes beyond the idea of a cable that just connects point A to point B, “We develop solutions in terms of control and monitoring of cables as a system, moving towards the idea of a cable as an ‘active product,’ such as the recent Pry-Cam Grids system, devoted to the online testing and monitoring of networks.”