Industry Insights: Industry 4.0 beckons a new world with smart energy management at its centre 27 April 2022
By ABB, EEC Industry Leader member
We have come a long way in the last couple of centuries, having traversed four industrial revolutions. With advanced digital innovation, consumers and businesses have experienced profound changes.
Today we stand at a crossroads, with a need to balance future socio-economic development with the need to carefully manage our planet’s resources and ensure its continued prosperity for future generations.
It is now more important than ever to aim toward building smart cities that are truly sustainable, have cleaner transportation, and feature more efficient buildings and infrastructures that serve essential human needs such as homes, water, electricity and connectivity.
For utilities and the construction, mobility and industrial sectors, among others, sustainable operations and the responsible use of resources have moved to the top of the agenda. The global consensus on climate change is driving demand for products, solutions and services that increase energy efficiency and reduce consumption of non-renewable resources. This means that sustainable operations and products increasingly represent a competitive advantage in and of themselves.
Digitalisation and connectivity are key enablers of building cities that are truly sustainable. These technologies give us access to deeper insights into the performance of assets. They unlock the potential of creating cost-efficient, flexible and future proof solutions for safer and more reliable systems. We see huge growth opportunities in the implementation of these readily available technologies that can achieve energy efficiency and cut electricity consumption and costs in industrial, commercial and residential environments.
In an effort to be more sustainable, cities today are looking for ways to get polluting internal combustion engines off the streets without disrupting the daily flow of people and goods. E-mobility is the clear, clean choice going forward. That is why ABB is active across the entire e-mobility value chain, offering a complete range of solutions for the electrification of buses, commercial vehicles, trucks, autonomous vehicles, automobiles, ships and railways.
EV chargers can be integrated with domestic solar PV and energy storage through home automation systems to control lights, cooling, heating and power demand to optimise energy usage from renewable sources. This will require certified electricians to learn new skills in automation and wireless technologies.
At ABB, we are focused on disruptive technologies like e-mobility. As engineers and scientists, our goal and passion are to reduce the number of carbon-emitting vehicles on our roads. We do this by developing new technologies, like the world’s fastest charger that can deliver up to 100km of range in less than three minutes, plus the only charger on the market designed explicitly to charge up to four vehicles at once. Our ‘opportunity charging’ systems for electric buses provide short bursts of power at selected stops or terminals, meaning buses can operate all day without running out of power.
The world is going digital, and the buildings segment is no exception. Digital technology can increase the overall transparency of buildings and help optimise building system performance for better occupant comfort and reduced energy use.
When we aim to minimise energy consumption while still optimising the living conditions in buildings, we need to rethink the whole system from the ground up. Every possible way to save energy must be considered, and the most energy efficient technologies and techniques must be applied. Together with renewable energy sources like wind and solar power and energy regeneration technologies, it is possible for buildings to generate surplus energy, which will create extra revenue for the owners when the surplus energy is sold back to the grid.
An energy-efficient building with smart management systems can be a tempting dealmaker on many levels for many different target groups. In the commercial world, investors, developers, buyers and tenants are increasingly aware of how an energy efficient building can boost the positive reputation of their company.
Just as e-mobility is an integral part of a ‘smart’ habitat because the infrastructure and vehicles are all connected, meaning power loads can be managed according to demand, the same applies to smart buildings.
We have developed a cost-efficient, cloud computing-based energy monitoring and management system to help cut waste and improve the energy efficiency of buildings and small industrial sites.
Our ABB Ability™ Energy and Asset Manager solution can help to scale energy consumption analysis to cover most buildings, including those of a smaller size and thus, make a first step in eliminating sources of energy waste in a cost-efficient manner.
It has become essential for companies to reduce energy costs and shrink their carbon footprints as their stakeholders become increasingly concerned about sustainability. Take mining as an example: Australia is leading the charge on the sustainability front in mining. We are seeing miners make strong commitments to net zero emissions. For instance, FMG has brought forward their net zero target by ten years to achieve this by 2030.
This greatly impacts decision-making around technology investment and modernisation. It needs to start with a definition of what an organisation’s carbon footprint is and what falls within its scope of decarbonisation. The next step is to examine the technology and what is currently possible to decarbonise. If companies graph this versus the benefit, the low hanging fruit should stand out – such as light commercial vehicles moving to electric.
The key to sustainability is to do more with less.
We need to meet the growing demand for energy and raw materials without increasing the burden we place on our planet’s resources and without increasing emissions and pollution. At ABB, we see it as our responsibility to help sustain growth and sustainable development, and we are excited to continue working with our customers to deliver technological innovations that enable public services, communities and industries to make greater strides towards turning smart societies into a reality.
ABB is a leading global technology company that energises the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. Learn more at new.abb.com/au.