- Increased global competition
- Need for diversification and innovation
- Remote management systems enables internationalisation and added value
- Energy and water consumption reductions for end-users
The company Hidroconta, an SME based in the Spanish region of Murcia, specialises in the research, manufacturing and distribution of products for the control of water resources. The company has over 30 years of experience in industrial projects and public works in the field of hydraulic technology and irrigation and it works in over 300 irrigation communities in Spain. It offers a broad portfolio of products and services, including water meters, valves and pumps as well as remote products for wireless management.
“(…) the management and control of water in an easy and comfortable way, which we call Smart Agriculture, a concept that encompasses the merging of water networks with new technologies”. - Alfonso Corbalán, CEO
The main challenges faced by Hidroconta are to ensure further growth, internationalisation and diversification. The company faces strong global competition, including from Asia. To continuously adapt to the global market background and to increase its international presence, the company is required to emphasise technological innovation and constant product improvements.
Hidroconta has carried out several connected activities to address the emerging challenges. First, it applies a concept that it calls Smart Agriculture that seeks to merge water networks with new technologies. With a focus on remote control systems, automation, hydraulic control products and tele management, the concept has helped the company to link its product base to intelligent technology, to add value and to differentiate itself from competitors. To complement this approach, Hidroconta has emphasised the hiring of new talent and skilled employees in technology as well as focussed on digital transformation. One of the latest product developments from Hidroconta concerns the Demeter system, the latest generation in systems capable of controlling and managing irrigation networks through remote control of equipment and facilities. The product is based on GRPS and radio communication.
Overall, the company’s implementation process has relied on a clear and shared strategy with well-defined objectives, a focus on hiring talented workers and an understanding of the need to continuously innovate. In order to achieve its ambitions, Hidroconta has for example established relationships with local universities in Murcia, in order to improve products, specialisation and ensure quality improvements. It has further been able to draw on financial support from BBVA, including also from EU structural funds, which has contributed to Hidroconta’s development of new technology and innovations. The company has also placed emphasis on research and a rigorous testing of new products as well as expanding the company’s facilities.
The Demeter system that Hidroconta developed offers commercial potential by providing end-users with a number of actual benefits. It allows for water meter readings in real time, alarms for water leakage and intrusion, established assigned quota and interoperability. Specifically, it can help to achieve water consumption savings of around 15-40%, energy consumption savings between 10-25% and productivity improvements of up to 20%.
The Results and Benefits
The digital transformation and focus on integration of technology in its product base, including the development of the Demeter system, have enabled Hidroconta to quadruple its net sales values and employment level between 2013 and 2015. It has further provided Hidroconta with an access to more than 10 new countries, including countries in South America, Africa and the Middle East. Hidroconta invoices around 30% in exports. The aim is that around 70% of turnover comes from foreign markets within the next three years. Figure 1 and 2 further outlines the actual results and benefits achieved for Hidroconta.