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Sunday June 23rd, 2024

DIMO’s Visionary Tech Strategy for Inclusive Growth

Wijith Pushpawela, Rajeev Pandithage and Chaminda Ranawana, Executive Directors of DIMO

DIMO, a leading diversified conglomerate in Sri Lanka, is at the forefront of implementing tech-driven strategies to uplift socio-economic development in the country. In an exclusive interview with Echelon, key executives of the group unveiled DIMO’s commitment to harnessing the latest technologies across mobility, agriculture, building services, and water businesses to elevate the quality of life.

Tech-Enabled Mobility and Farming

In the mobility sector, DIMO’s partnerships with prestigious automobile brands like Mercedes-Benz, Tata, Jeep, and Chrysler have cemented its position as the tech-led forerunner in the local automotive industry. For example, Mercedes-Benz has introduced car-to-car communications, even between their competitor vehicles in Europe to enhance safety by allowing cars to communicate and avoid accidents. This technological edge extends to DIMO’s after-sales services, with Sri Lankan mechanics and technicians receiving training in these advanced systems exemplifying the company’s commitment towards offering tech-infused solutions and services to the country.

As the world shifts towards electric mobility, DIMO is strategically navigating this transition, although the current infrastructure limitations in Sri Lanka necessitate a structured approach. Executive Director of DIMO, Rajeev Pandithage who also spearheads the Mobility and Agriculture Exports segments of the group noted, “Passenger Electric Vehicles are the future, but the current ecosystem for electric mobility in Sri Lanka needs significant upgrades. We must ensure we have a robust network that includes payment gateways, renewable energy driven charging network that is connected to show availability  to support this shift.” Addressing inefficiencies in Sri Lanka’s public transport system, DIMO advocates for an integrated digital platform that seamlessly manages timings, digital payments and accessibility options specially needed for commuters on trains, buses, and micro-mobility options like e-bikes. Drawing parallels with India, where rapid technological adoption has significantly elevated transportation systems, Pandithage sees potential for similar advancements in Sri Lanka.

“We need to embrace digital solutions to transform our public transport system. We are required to look at all modes of transport holistically where the commuter can design their daily trip on their phone.  It’s not just about convenience but also about reducing costs and environmental impact,” he said. The company also stresses the importance of upgrading commercial vehicles to meet the latest emission and road-worthy standards, reducing both transportation costs and environmental and social impact.

In the agriculture sector, DIMO is making significant strides with cutting-edge agri-tech innovations. Despite the nascent stage of agricultural technology in Sri Lanka, DIMO has been a pioneer in farm mechanization for over three decades. Tech-backed solutions such as the Bison boat tractor for deep-puddling locations, the “Pala Batta” paddy transplanting machine, and advanced drones for broadcasting seeds and fertilizer are revolutionizing farming practices. However, challenges remain, including ensuring fair prices for farmers’ produce and reducing high production costs due to outdated inputs and small-scale farming.

“We are committed to building an ecosystem that supports farmers by providing direct market access, best technology and knowhow throughout the agriculture value chain ensuring better prices for their goods,” Pandithage emphasized. The company’s partnerships with global leaders like Mahindra Tractors, Claas and Penergetic, along with Israeli and Thai companies to name a few, facilitate the introduction of advanced technologies that improve yields and competitiveness in the global market. Mahindra Lightweight, fuel-efficient tractors and Lovol-efficient harvesters are some of the innovations being introduced to Sri Lankan farmers.

The impact of these technological advancements on stakeholders is profound. In the mobility sector, DIMO’s representation of brands with advanced emission standards makes it one of the least polluting automotive companies in Sri Lanka.

DIMO is present to cater to the modern consumer. The introduction of advanced technology in both mobility and agriculture not only boosts productivity but also creates a more sustainable and efficient ecosystem.  Modernizing public transport with digital connectivity can reduce congestion and improve the quality of life for commuters. In agriculture, technologies like precision farming, 4th generational agriculture inputs and focused micro-irrigation practices reduce costs and increase yields, making Sri Lankan agri outputs more competitive internationally.

By focusing on large-scale farming and mechanization, DIMO aims to work with policymakers to overcome the challenges of small-plot farming and high production costs. The export client requires transparency and traceability. DIMO is on its way to introducing traceability through blockchain technology which ensures consumers can verify the origins and quality of agricultural products, meeting the stringent demands of international markets.

DIMO’s strategic focus on integrating advanced technologies in both the mobility and agriculture sectors positions it as a leader in driving innovation and economic development in Sri Lanka. “We are not just looking at immediate gains but are focused on long-term sustainable growth that benefits our stakeholders over a long-term horizon,” Pandithage explains.

Smart Buildings, Better Living

DIMO’s tech-led strategy extends to its building services business where it is making significant strides in incorporating global technological advancements to drive economic prosperity and improve the quality of life.

Wijith Pushpawela, Executive Director of DIMO who also leads the Building Services business of the group highlights the company’s efforts and insights into the current global trends in the building services sphere that embrace sustainable practices while enhancing living standards.

Globally, the concept of green buildings is gaining traction, emphasizing the reduction of carbon footprints, the use of renewable energy, and minimizing power consumption. Pushpawela explains that achieving lower power consumption in buildings involves energy audits, data collection & analysis and then implementing suitable Building Management Systems. These systems optimize energy usage while maintaining occupant comfort. The global shift is moving from predictive maintenance, where issues are anticipated, to prescriptive maintenance. This new approach allows buildings to study the behaviour of their services and adjust operations accordingly.

Pushpawela elaborates on the concept of digital twins, which involves creating a virtual replica of a building. This is updated from real-time data and uses simulation, machine learning and reasoning to help make decisions. This simulation allows designers and architects to optimize operations before implementation. By simulating different scenarios, they can identify the most efficient ways to run the building’s services. Once implemented, these systems can continually adjust based on real-time data, ensuring optimal performance and energy savings.

DIMO is at the forefront of bringing these advanced technologies to Sri Lanka, primarily through its partnership with Siemens, a world leader in building technologies. Pushpawela proudly notes that DIMO has implemented the country’s largest building management system at the JKH’s Waterfront Project, utilizing Siemens’ cutting-edge technology. This project integrates various building services, all monitored and controlled through a sophisticated Building Management System.

One of DIMO’s key strategies is offering one-stop-shop solutions, handling everything from passive communication systems to devices. They also excel in value engineering, optimizing designs to reduce capital expenditure while maintaining high standards. This approach not only lowers initial investment costs but often enhances the final solution, as demonstrated in projects like the JKH’s Waterfront and Marina Square developments.

DIMO’s technological advancements significantly enhance the quality of life for stakeholders. Advanced security systems, including high-end CCTV and sophisticated access control solutions, ensure the safety of building occupants. Efficient air conditioning and lighting systems monitored and controlled via Building Management Systems provide a comfortable environment while minimizing energy consumption. Pushpawela emphasizes that these systems use AI and IoT devices to maintain optimal conditions and reduce operational costs.

Building owners benefit from prescriptive maintenance, which minimizes unexpected breakdowns and ensures smooth operations. Energy-saving solutions, such as power-efficient elevators and LED lighting, contribute to lower operating costs. On a national scale, these technologies help reduce energy consumption, crucial for a country heavily reliant on expensive fossil fuels.  “As the country embraces new developments, we anticipate more opportunities to implement our advanced solutions, ultimately benefiting the economy and improving the quality of life for all. We are hopeful for the future,” Pushpawela concludes.

Leading-Edge Water Tech

In a significant leap for Sri Lanka’s water & fluid technologies sector, DIMO, in collaboration with global leaders like KSB Germany and Evoqua USA, is pioneering tech-fuelled solutions that promise to transform the landscape of water management in the country. Chaminda Ranawana, Executive Director of DIMO, who is also steering the Water and Fluid Technologies business of the group sheds light on the latest advancements and their far-reaching implications for the nation.

For over four decades, the DIMO Water & Fluid Technologies segment revolutionized fluid transportation, treatment, and management across a range of applications covering municipal systems, high-rise buildings, and industrial processes while solidifying its reputation as a reliable project partner for the National Water Supply & Drainage Board, industrial clients, and private sector investors, he says.

The ongoing Ambatale Energy Saving Project is dedicated to enhancing the water supply in the Colombo district while drastically reducing national energy consumption. This is a project where DIMO supplied the total array of highly efficient pumps from Germany, enabling the achievement of energy-saving parameters.   

Another notable landmark is the joint execution of the design and build Jaffna – Kilinochchi water supply scheme.  “We use Technologies like Water Gem and Water Hammer to analyse and understand the entire energy cost of the projects and facilitate extremely realistic design parameters,” says Ranawana.

There are a few other recent milestones in DIMO’s journey in terms of completion of some of the water projects providing comprehensive disinfection solutions with state-of-the-art chlorine injection systems to maintain chlorine residuals in the water distribution system, ensuring a high level of consumer protection. This system operates fully automatically, adapting to demands via a Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

DIMO   introduced new technologies in wastewater management, especially by taking part in projects like the Greater Colombo Wastewater Management Project.  In this project, DIMO introduced advanced submersible pumps which could handle any kind of sewer without the pumps being clogged or corroded.

Harnessing technology to provide safe drinking water and promote energy efficiency in water projects is vital for improving the quality of life and driving economic prosperity in Sri Lanka. These efforts are crucial in preventing waterborne diseases, reducing the burden on healthcare systems, and ensuring public health. 

Additionally, focusing on energy-efficient solutions not only lowers energy bills of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board but also contributes to environmental sustainability, economic stability, and enhanced social well-being. DIMO’s innovative technologies in water disinfection and energy efficiency play a pivotal role in achieving these goals, paving the way for a healthier, more sustainable, and prosperous future for the nation.

Responsible wastewater handling is equally important. As the global population grows and urbanization increases, the challenges of extracting fresh water and managing wastewater become more complex. DIMO collaborates with municipalities and industrial companies to find sustainable solutions for these issues,” Ranawana explains.

Globally, the water industry is adopting “Sustainable Water Production” and “Zero Discharge of Water.” The latter aims to recycle all water without any wastage. Developed nations practice Sustainable Water Production by minimizing water loss during transmission, purification, storage, and distribution, focusing on reducing non-revenue water. In Sri Lanka, non-revenue water volumes are high and DIMO aims to mitigate this issue by integrating the latest technologies.

A major challenge in wastewater treatment is that industrial wastewater requires specialized processes. Patented solutions, such as electro-ceramic desalination technology, offer innovative solutions and enable the recovery of up to 98% of water, allowing for recycling even in challenging conditions. DIMO is forging partnerships with global innovators to bring these advanced technologies to Sri Lanka.  “Access to water supply and sanitation is a prerequisite for achieving economic success. We are continuously exploring new opportunities and partnerships to contribute to this goal,” says Ranawana.

Shaping the Future

With a tech-driven strategic focus on, mobility, agriculture, building services and water management DIMO is not only shaping the future of Sri Lanka but also driving sustainable development across the nation. DIMO is at the vanguard of integrating global technological advancements, propelling economic growth to fuel the dreams and aspirations of the nation.