Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals are topmost on the agenda for businesses big and small today. These ESG goals were “nice to have” in previous years. However, ESG is becoming more mainstream and could be a mandatory requirement in corporate governance.
No matter which industry they are in, whether they are from manufacturing or financial services, the impetus today is to do business in a way that is fair and sustainable for the long term.
For some companies, industrial automation is making a big difference in their efforts to achieve their ESG goals. The increasing digitalization and always-on data streams today mean that there are ESG benefits to be reaped, in addition to the technology delivering greater efficiency and higher profitability for the bottom line.
Reducing waste continuously
The most obvious way that industrial automation improves ESG goals is by cutting down the waste involved in, say, manufacturing or logistics.
This could be a reduction in the materials used, for example, to make tires or the valuable natural resources, like water, used to clean or maintain machinery that needs to operate in optimal conditions.
Through automating, the precision involved in each process is backed by historical data showing the most efficient way forward for businesses. Real-time data is used to optimize the production process so that all the manufacturing parameters are adjusted for each output unit with optimal efficiency. Besides cutting down costs through wastage, they also reduce the impact on the environment and help companies achieve their ESG targets.
IT resources, while enabling digitalization, can also contribute to carbon impact. This is why Stratus servers, which are easy to maintain with replaceable components and which run multiple tasks in one physical machine, are the choice of many businesses for workload consolidation.
Measuring usage effectively
Automation also helps to generate the necessary data in the way scarce resources are used in the most efficient manner. Businesses can compare data from two different ways of running a plant, for example, and make decisions to streamline production based on the data collected.
This decision-led approach is only possible when processes are digitalized, and automation is available across the business.
By accurately calculating one’s carbon footprint, for example, a business can better target its approach to tackle sustainability challenges.
Real-time data, which is possible with edge computing devices carrying out on-the-spot quick analysis, is another rich source of intelligence that can help businesses better measure their material and energy usage. Getting this baseline data on material and energy is often the initial step in advancing toward ESG goals. It is key to have an automaton infrastructure that measures input usage continuously so that the impact of any optimization action can be evaluated in real-time.
Shoring up the supply chain
The pandemic offered valuable lessons on many supply chain challenges that often reverberated globally into various interconnected sectors. As more of the global logistics and supply chain system becomes digitalized, it is crucial that it becomes resilient to unplanned downtime.
Stratus’ fault-tolerant servers, for example, provide 99.99999%uptime, seamlessly running mission critical systems and servers without having to manually cut over from a live system to a backup one. This means less disruption to the supply chain due to unexpected system outages. In turn, this means less wastage of fuel and manpower, for example, to move goods from one part of the world to another.
Digital twins are another possible improvement to industrial automation that can benefit the supply chain. By simulating how much carbon impact is involved in a process, businesses can experiment with different ways to run their supply chain operation. In logistics, more optimized routes can be planned and tested before they can used so as to reduce fuel consumption. Overall, carbon footprint and operation cost could be reduced by testing different scenarios and choosing the optimal route before actual implementation.
Even with automation, many factories and plants will still require employees to be on the floor on occasion to make decisions and carry out important tasks.
Wearable devices can help empower them in their daily work by offering real-time insights into their work environments while ensuring their well-being through trackable personal health apps.
This will significantly improve the health and safety of employees and enhance the human aspect of many companies’ ESG goals.
Reason for optimism
Despite the various challenges facing them, many businesses are going all in with their ESG commitments. These commitments are core to everyday operations as well as their long-term viability.
As Stratus looks ahead to the next decade, we expect sustainability to be an increasing focus of our business practices as well as the business outcomes we help customers and partners achieve.
Stratus is developing zero-touch compute platforms that enable resilient modern operations, from manufacturing and smart machines to renewable energy and smart city infrastructure. At the same time, we are improving our corporate approach to adopting sustainability practices.
Stratus is part of Smart Global Holdings (SGH), a global technology holding company, which has laid out a specific and purposeful plan to reach the goal of net zero on Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across all SGH lines of business by 2030.
It’s an ambitious goal, but like our customers and partners, we believe it is an achievable goal to make our businesses sustainable for the long term.