Expert Interview – “In fact We Are a Highly Secure Cloud Solution for Critical Infrastructure”

Expert Interview – July 26, 2021

Interview with Manuel Gernsbeck, CEO of BentoNet GmbH about their digitalization platform, also called BentoNet.

Baden-Baden based BentoNet GmbH, recently founded by Siemens Financial Services and GBS Beteiligung GmbH, has been nominated as a finalist of The smarter E AWARD in the “Smart Renewable Energy” category. The young company submitted an entry for the AWARD with their integral digitalization platform. We asked CEO Manuel Gernsbeck how the platform is helping push forward the energy transition.

Manuel Gernsbeck, CEO of BentoNet GmbH

Hello Mr Gernbeck. First and foremost, congratulations on the AWARD nomination. What does Bento in BentoNet stand for?

BentoNet comes from the Japanese concept of presenting food. We chose the name to highlight the diversity and compatibility of data on the BentoNet platform. In a way, we are offering a Bento box to the energy sector, where every user can tailor their modules to their “taste”. We actually also have a four-legged friend called Bento, our office “feel-good manager” – although he was around long before BentoNet.

BentoNet is an integral digitalization platform. Who is the platform designed for and how is it integral?
BentoNet equips the energy sector with a tool that helps provide energy that is good value for money, carbon-neutral and always readily available. It is our mission to crack the three-point energy policy, meeting the goals of economic viability, environmental compatibility and supply security. By doing so, we hope to pave the way for a sustainable energy transition. What makes our platform integral is that it provides an environment for all relevant future solutions. And it’s available to all players in the energy sector: consumers, producers, storage systems and of course the manufacturers of these systems or the technology they run on. We offer an independent, highly secure, European alternative to the established suppliers.

Throughout the energy transition, more and more IoT platforms have been emerging. What are the biggest differences between these platforms and BentoNet?

For us the biggest difference is crystal clear, we do not provide an IoT platform. We supply infrastructure for critical processes in the energy industry. That means we don’t move in the usual IoT-environment. Instead, we recognize the specific requirements and needs of the energy sector. In fact, we are a highly secure Cloud solution for critical infrastructureand deliver a complete package of future-oriented software and reliable, high-quality hardware. We offer our customers fully integrated components which facilitate a swift implementation of innovative solutions within a highly secure environment. Using BentoNet, digital business models can be implemented in a fraction of the usual time, even taking the on-site implementation – the hardware – into consideration.

Which hardware do your solutions include and which manufacturer are they from?

We count on tried and tested products from the energy industry which stand out from the rest for their maximal availability, high temperature resistance and sophisticated patch management. Using these products enables us to meet the requirements of grid operators. We obtain most of our hardware from one of our key partners with lots of industry experience to their name, Siemens.

Who are your target groups?

Our target groups are all players in the energy market and energy industry. However, we do particularly focus on the B2B2B group. Decentralized energy plants (CHP plants, emergency power systems, PV systems, wind turbines, biomass plants, storage units like electric cars), utility companies and grid operators, and of course any type of industrial consumer all form part of our target market. One exciting example is the Module Power Quality that Siemens hosts at our company. Voltage quality will be a central topic as the energy transition progresses. It impacts a municipal utility as much as it does a charging station manufacturer, or a local industrial company with a high energy demand and devices that are sensitive to voltage fluctuations.

Since we consider ourselves more “back end” rather than an actual energy supplier, our users are free to either use the energy themselves or sell it on.

With BentoNet, a variety of field devices can be used across one platform. How do you deal with all the different interfaces?

At BentoNet we decided early on that we would adhere to the IEC104 Standards and Modbus. These are widely used in the energy sector and compatible with most of the field devices we use. Our remote terminal units offer both analog and binary interfaces. The use of various different field devices is only possible because of our proprietary Unified Data Standard for the standardization of data points. This enables a data point to be used for a variety of purposes at web level.

Your platform is also an attractive option for PV, CHP plants or battery storage system producers. How can they benefit from BentoNet and vice versa?

With the BentoNet platform they can quickly, securely and independently launch their own business models. This helps them increase the added value of the data for their own benefit and that of their customers. We also support companies with the development of their digitalization strategies and offer workshops on optimal usage of data. What’s unique here is that manufacturers can provide their expertise to the whole market, without having to deal with the expensive and complex infrastructure usually associated with doing so.

The BentoNet platform also gives users access to third-party software at the touch of a button, almost like an app store. How do you select suppliers?

Firstly, the data is available to all developers. Before launching it onto the app store, the software is of course scrutinized by our team of developers. The structure of our platform minimizes the risks.

How do you ensure secure data transmission and the security of the platform itself?

BentoNet isn’t accessible via the normal internet, but uses its own MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching)-network. We consistently meet the requirements of transmission system operators, a reflection of our strict security principles. We’re also currently implementing an information security management system according to the ISO 27001 standard.

To ensure the security of the platform, we carry out regular reviews of the implementation of the security concepts and use strong encryption as well as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Each customer has a completely separate data area.

Why did you apply for The smarter E AWARD? What does the nomination mean to you?

For us, the future of energy and therefore “smart renewable energy” means collaboration. That’s why submitting an entry was at the top of our list. The energy transition requires a strong foundation and that’s exactly what we’ve developed with the BentoNet platform. The more users and active participants join, the more efficient and sustainable the energy transition will be. Our platform is not just “smart”, but also focuses on the security of the solutions and ultimately of the energy supply.

More than anything, the nomination is a confirmation of our vision and mission. We believe the future of energy means collaboration. A collaboration in which everyone can focus on their core business and establish common solutions. That way, we can achieve a sustainable energy transition.

BentoNet will be exhibiting at EM-Power Europe Restart 2021, October 6-8, 2021.

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