Sustainability has been a phrase on everyone's lips within the manufacturing community, from the boardroom to the shopfloor. What was once considered progressive on your company reports is now table stakes for continuing to operate; it is a business imperative. As a result, pressure is being applied on manufacturing companies from all directors.
The increasing burden of international and local regulations drives top-level pressure. For example, the EU has a corporate sustainability reporting directive (CSRD) where companies will soon be required to publish detailed information on sustainability matters. This will increase a company's accountability, prevent divergent sustainability standards, and ease the transition to a sustainable energy management and economy.
In practical terms, companies will have to report on how their business model affects their sustainability and how external sustainability factors (such as climate change or human rights issues) influence their activities. This will better equip investors and other stakeholders to make informed decisions on sustainability issues.
But legislation is not the only driver. Pressure comes from investors and the financial sector, who increasingly scrutinize organizations' sustainability credentials. Then there are employees and consumers who are becoming more environmentally conscious and demanding more from employers and products.
Firstly, to begin developing any sustainability strategy, you must understand how and where you utilize your resources to know where most of the impact lies. The adage you cannot improve what you do not measure comes sharply into focus here. The use could be various elements such as electricity, transportation, manufacturing processes, or your supply chain. Establishing this baseline is essential and requires extensive data to understand how the various business activities could generate emissions.
But it is more than that. A plant-level understanding of energy use will not help an organization optimize its processes. There needs to be granularity in the data down to each process and even as far as each product. An appreciation of how much electricity, water, or compressed air is required to manufacture each individual product is crucial. To answer these questions, organizations are looking to data and digitalization.
The latest PTC Talk featured Simon Koeppen, sustainability lead for L&T Technology Services. They have developed a product called The Energy and Sustainability Manager, which helps companies drive energy-efficient and sustainable energy management and manufacturing using digitalization. According to Koeppen, the most important thing is to consider engineering and changing products and business processes to enhance sustainability.
The package offers three value propositions, sustainability for annual reporting, green imaging, and cost and compliance recognitions. Within these strands are six components: compliance, sustainability, monitoring, analysis, reporting, and data.
The Energy and Sustainability Manager is not an off-the-shelf software but fully customizable, requiring a three-phase implementation approach. The first phase is a detailed site assessment that plots the existing meter and hardware footprint and identifies gaps in the architecture and data requirements. At this stage, the exact customer requirements in regard to their KPIs are factored in to ensure the most appropriate dashboards are delivered. This is followed by the implementation phase, where everything is integrated to provide the energy management dashboard, which delivers the appropriate alerts and notifications. Finally, there is the support stage which is both functional and technical.
While the functionality of the platform tells a compelling story, the results bear evidence of the benefits. Using the software, it is estimated that organizations quickly gain five percent energy cost savings within the first year. However, there have been instances of saving at three times that level. This is achieved by analyzing and improving compliance and monitoring energy performance indicators that can help balance resources.
Regarding sustainability, the value of one system that can monitor the entire plant includes parameters such as scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions and performance in relation to Science Based Target Initiatives (SBTI). Having one-click reporting is something that is an excellent help to sustainability professionals. But in the end, it is all about the net zero journeys and monitoring so you can improve every aspect of operations.
The package has already helped a multitude of organizations to improve their sustainability performance. In one application, the energy manager was deployed over multiple plants for a global consumer package goods (CPG) major headquartered in the United States. This organization had numerous challenges in its sustainability performance. These include more than five percent of its cost of water and electricity unaccounted for, no traceability of water losses, and a lack of analysis and benchmarking of equipment on energy key performance indicators (KPIs).
The energy manager was deployed, including metering installed at essential data points, configurable KPIs were established, and a reconciliation module was installed to address unaccounted energy use. The results were positive - a 12 percent reduction in water and five percent in electricity intensity. In addition, the unaccounted electricity and water costs were reduced to less than one percent.
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