Monday, 25 March 2024 11:01

Can technology save the planet?

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Can technology save the planet? The sentiment at the World Economic Forum annual conference in Davos evoked an overwhelming yes. Next generation technologies have undeniable potential. Yet, the success of these technologies hinges on how we navigate their implementation.

Here, Stefan Reuther, Member of the Executive Board at automation supplier COPA-DATA, reflects on the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual conference — what change is required to achieve the twin transition?

Pillars of change

Talent development was discussed at Davos 2024 as a critical factor in ensuring a smooth transition to next-gen technologies. It's not merely about technical skills, but cultivating a mindset of adaptability and continuous learning. As technology evolves, so must our workforce. Initiatives like training programs and upskilling efforts are pivotal in equipping our teams to leverage these advancements effectively.

A robust data backbone is equally crucial. This involves establishing reliable systems for capturing, processing and analyzing data across the entire manufacturing ecosystem. This is essential to provide real-time insights and predictive maintenance, enhancing decision-making in a wide variety of settings.

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Industry standards also play a part in fostering interoperability and ensuring quality of new technologies. To get the best out of our tech, we must streamline the development of common protocols and best practices. While this may take time, standardization will further facilitate the integration of new technologies in the long term.

Governments and regulators play a critical role in shaping the landscape of next-gen technologies. They yield power to create an environment where knowledge is shared, resources are mobilized and technology is deployed carefully. While it is crucial not to overregulate new tech, following sensible approaches is a good thing. This is particularly important for technologies that can be used to tackle pressing challenges like climate change.

Actions for the twin transition

The concept of the twin transition — the phrase used to describe the convergence of the digital and green transitions — took center stage at Davos 2024. Recognizing the urgency of climate change, the community discussed the need for actionable solutions to accelerate the reduction of emissions.

It is clear there’s a need for industry-specific solutions for sustainability. While we may all be aiming for similar goals, such as reducing Scope 3 emissions, the methodologies of doing so will differ. Collaborative research and development (R&D) and the sharing of best technology practices will be key to uplift the sustainability of the entire supply chain.

This impacts traceability, transparency and trust. In a previous COPA-DATA article, I discussed the role of independent software vendors (ISVs) in the twin transition. Transparency is key for the success of ISVs, particularly those that use open automation like COPA-DATA. Our software platform allows users to choose any system, equipment or software and ensures it can communicate seamlessly with a no-code approach. Moving away from silos and vendor-lock in is crucial for empowering businesses to understand their data and improve their environmental impact.

This transparency of data is similarly crucial for integrating sustainability into product design and manufacture — another topic discussed at Davos. In addition to considerations like material selection and lifecycle management, businesses can make significant improvements to their emissions by tackling energy intensive processes in their product manufacture. It is impossible to do this without transparent technology that captures and visualizes energy consumption in a harmonized way.

In asking whether technology can save the planet, we find ourselves at the nexus of possibility and responsibility. The discussions at Davos 2024 illuminated the potential of technology to achieve the world’s sustainability needs, but also emphasized the urgent need for collaborative action and change to implement these technologies effectively.

As we reflect on the insights gained and the challenges ahead, we see that there are plenty of options to improve and we must do it now to preserve a future worth living. One thing becomes clear: It’s not about the planet, it’s about us and the lives of our offspring.

To learn more about COPA-DATA, visit the website here.

About COPA-DATA
COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently. The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2022, with more than 350 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 69 million.

www.copadata.com

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