Part 3: Monitoring and analyzing data
As businesses advance toward sustainability, they need more accurate ways of measuring progress–both to check that they are on track to achieve their milestones, and as part of reporting on sustainability initiatives to key stakeholders.While transparency and accountability are crucial for both internal and external audiences, achieving them may not be straightforward.
While transparency and accountability are crucial for both internal and external audiences, achieving them may not be straightforward. “We tend to underestimate the effort that goes into the monitoring and tracking of achievements, and the setting of all targets” warns Klaus Luetzenkirchen, Vice President Environmental Protection at Siemens.
The good news for businesses that have embraced digital transformation as a sustainability driver is that these initiatives will provide much of this evidence. Moreover, this data is now more accurate and timely than ever before. Industrial edge-computing solutions ensure that data can be processed immediately at the plant or machine where it is generated. Such solutions not only measure sustainability progress, but also provide valuable insight into measures to increase resource and energy efficiency and productivity.
We tend to underestimate the effort that goes into the monitoring and tracking of achievements, and the setting of all targets.Klaus Luetzenkirchen Vice President Environmental Protection, Siemens
At Siemens’ Electronic Works Amberg facility, the traditional approach to inspecting finished products relies on an automatic X-ray machine, but this limits capacity because each new machine costs €500,000. The alternative is AI. Data from sensors on the production line is transferred to a cloud through a controller and an edge device, where a trained algorithm processes the information, allowing it to assess whether soldered joints on the circuit board are free from faults. The benefits include reduced waste and more energy-efficient use of production-line capacity, as well as lower costs.
Such projects are a reminder of how the implementation of initiatives for digital transformation generate spin-off benefits: operational gains such as optimized throughput and cycle times, for example, come with sustainability benefits. “The digital transformation is essential but, actually, it’s going to give you a platform from which to meet all the sustainability requirements,” says Martin Powell, Head of Sustainability & Environmental Initiatives Americas at Siemens Financial Services. Some new digital solutions provide enhanced data capabilities explicitly to boost sustainability. For example, Siemens’ SiGREEN takes an ecosystem-based approach to emissions data, enabling reliable tracking of the carbon footprint of a product across the entire supply chain.
The digital transformation is essential but, actually, it’s going to give you a platform from which to meet all the sustainability requirements.Martin Powell Head of Sustainability & Environmental Initiatives Americas, Siemens Financial Services
The initiative employs the open Estainium network, which uses a distributed ledger to enable manufacturers, suppliers, customers, and partners to exchange product carbon-footprint data in a secure environment. Using SiGREEN, this data can be aggregated to give the ‘true’ carbon footprint of a product – thereby giving businesses new insights into how to reduce that footprint. Most industrial businesses depend on estimates of their supply-chain emissions based on static average figures, but innovations such as SiGREEN provide dynamic data that builds a precise, real-time status assessment. Another example lies in the digital tools that enable businesses to track and trace assets and inventory and ensure minimum downtime of expensive assets. In large organizations, this has the potential to drive significant improvements in cost and productivity because assets can be made available across the business, ensuring operational continuity and efficiency of resource use.
How Coca-Cola Europacific Partners is measuring supply-chain data to drive sustainabilityCoca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottler, is working on a big challenge: its sustainability targets, including an ambition to reach net zero by 2040, will require collective action to reduce emissions. Over 90% of CCEP’s value-chain greenhouse gas emissions come from its supply chain. So CCEP is asking its suppliers to set their own science-based carbon reduction targets, shift to 100% renewable electricity, and start sharing their carbon footprint data.
But with supplier numbers in six figures including those beyond tier 1, tracking the impacts of those partners is tough. Working with them to reduce emissions is even more difficult. Ralf Peters, CCEP’s Vice President for Procurement, says digital solutions can help. “If you want to be ahead of the curve or among the early adopters, then you need to innovate,” he argues. In this spirit, CCEP is building a digital platform on which it asks suppliers to post key data – on their performance on standards such as the EcoVadis ratings, but also on broader criteria such as evaluations of unfair trade practices. This enables the firm to identify suppliers that could jeopardize its targets (or, worse, its sustainability and ethical profile), and then work with them to improve their performance using a science-based target process. “Then it becomes more digital,” Peters adds. “Once you have identified where emissions come from and agreed on a science-based target with your strategic supplier, who has been validated and is on the journey with you, you start to exchange data. You move from using industry averages to supplier-specific emission factors.”