Reducing carbon emissions and accelerating sustainability initiatives in the value chain

Ron Beck
3 July, 23

Reaching net zero emissions by the consensus deadline of 2050 is increasingly top off mind for many manufacturers. However, whilst the industry recognises the need to play their part in accelerating sustainability initiatives, determining where exactly their addressable carbon emissions are coming from remains a challenge. With current approaches to understand and report on the carbon footprint being typically expensive and imprecise, manufacturers need to find better digital solutions to identify and mitigate emission trouble spots. Taking a middle-of-the-road, reactive stand on carbon capture is simply no longer enough.

A high priority need for real-time insights

Across Europe, manufacturers are being guided by ever-stricter regulatory standards which help set goals and milestones on the journey to net zero. Asset-intensive organisations particularly face challenges in making the necessary changes to reduce emissions, for example those refining metals, making and recycling batteries, or producing chemicals, whose manufacturing processes consume a lot of energy. With   ongoing uncertainty of gas supplies and unpredictable spikes in energy prices, detecting leaks and inefficiencies as well as repairing old pipelines and production equipment will bring two-fold benefits of both helping to meet emissions targets and concurrently reducing costs.  

Manufacturers must now realise that transparency and improved, granular visibility into entire plants will help to understand, in real time, emissions state of play.  This presents the opportunity to immediately act and resolve a potential problem on the production line, rather than letting it simmer for days or weeks ramping up energy bills. Simultaneously, in-the-moment insights are key to support wider business critical decision-making, especially when it comes to adjusting operational processes with sustainability agendas in mind. As teams across organisations may be working on different aspects of emission-reduction, they can be more confident knowing they base their actions on the same accurate data. There are also many players in the supply chain, with each playing an equal part in improving environmental performance. Capturing insights across the entire value chain and throughout distributed manufacturing processes go beyond what can be achieved with traditional solutions.

Implementing the right digital solutions

Traditional approaches of relying on spreadsheets or external consultants to capture data on carbon emissions are redundant, time-inefficient, expensive and no longer fit for purpose. They fail to bring essential data from across the value chain together to allow manufacturers to make fast and smart decisions to improve overall efficiency and to propose carbon mitigation strategies, and to incorporate the “scope three” emissions that arise from suppliers and end user. Digital emissions management solutions, on the other hand, can help manufacturers specifically identify, and then remediate, blind spots across production lines and plants. Offering end-to-end visibility and real-time insights into carbon emissions, digital tools have become an enabler of better emission-control approaches across supply chains. A recent case study at a European refinery has proven that simply providing granular, real time, accurate emissions data can result in immediate five percent emissions savings through simple operational changes, with an eye towards an additional 15-20% reduction opportunity.

These visual and real time insights offer proven decision support capabilities that unite, correlate, analyse and visualise data from across the organisation, opening decision makers to a much better enterprise-level view of their current and prediction emissions. Armed with modern capabilities, supply chains can eradicate vague calculations and embrace more precise measurements that help abide by various regulations and encourage consistency across operational processes. Having a complete picture of the past, present, and the future, offers the much needed granularity to accelerate accurate and agile decision-making, steer manufacturers towards a greener, more sustainable future, and provide investor transparency.

Leveraging digital emission management and optimisation solutions creates measurable value that optimises profitability, safety and compliance. From solvent performance, and column configurations and rating, to energy optimisation, integration of renewables with capture modules, and identification of electrification opportunity, digital twins are proving fundament to the rapid innovation of carbon capture across manufacturing. Digital twin workflows, typically a “nice to have” in conventional processes, are absolutely essential for the insights needed for operational performance and the feedback required for the improvements that come from operational analytics and models.

The future of emissions management

With the fast-approaching, aggressive net zero targets and increasing sustainability demands from customers, manufacturers need to do more to improve their overall energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. Digital solutions that provide up-to-date, detailed emissions reports will help achieve more effective reporting and ensure compliance, remediating emission trouble spots across the production lines and push forward emissions-reducing innovations like raw materials, low-carbon, improved product usage that promotes the circular economy. The rapid technological advancements seen in recent years offer ground-breaking opportunities for supply chains to monitor and protect the environment, advance global sustainability, and reap an array of secondary benefits of cost effectiveness and a competitive advantage.

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