WEX NEWS: Pernille Ingildsen is looking for smart, organic solutions in a volatile world – learn more at WEX Global 2020 in Valencia next week

Pernille Ingildsen is Senior Chief of Projects at Denmark’s Kalundborg Forsyning A/S and is on the panel for discussing ‘Optimising Asset Management through Smart Operation and Maintenance’. She is currently involved in developing an innovative new water treatment works drawing on groundwater.


Why do you come to WEX?

‘Currently, we are particularly interested in nature-based systems – more organic solutions, and will be looking out for these at WEX. The traditional industrial mindset is very rigid. There is a complexity to our task which is difficult to analyse, so we need to be inspired by nature, using the concept of ‘Factory as Forest’, biomimicry. The big question I want to ask and present on is ‘How do you build flexibility into a static system?’

Tell us about your new water treatment works

In the past, stable, old world, you just built a new waterworks by making one slightly bigger than the one that went before it – but things have changed. In today’s VUCA world – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous – you have to look at a lot of different scenarios and variables. In our first advisory board meeting recently, six focus groups of different interested parties, including young people, customers and utilities, met to discuss the many different ways that a new system could be organised. Unexpectedly the main outcome from all of these groups was that the system had to be flexible.

What about the circular economy?

We would like to have a circular economy closed loop system for the water. This is not possible in Denmark right now at the moment – industrial customers don’t yet have confidence in it – but in SIngapore and Namibia it happens, and within 5–10 years, Denmark’s agenda will have changed. So we need a system which can take changing visions on board; yet drinking water treatment plants are very custom-made and not easy to change in terms of configuration. Almost as soon as it is ready it will need to be changed – which is huge in terms of planning. We need to model different solutions and see what could work. 

What’s next?

Competition is the old story; collaboration is the new story. Denmark is collaborative and has some amazing examples such as the Kalundborg Symbiosis on our doorstep, but it is still too low level. We need to be imaginative, logical and transparent – and we need to look on the macro scale. In the future, in order to have the flexibility needed to deal with change, the city should be soft – not steel and concrete.

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