Digitisation is key to saving the planet, says Aveva’s Lisa Johnston

Digitisation is key to saving the planet, says Aveva’s Lisa Johnston

The chief sustainability officer discusses the value of digital transformation in becoming climate positive 

Rebecca Gibson |

Developing green industrial processes and improving energy efficiency are two of the top priorities for organisations in the manufacturing, energy and industrial sectors as they seek to minimise their impact on the environment.

AVEVA’s chief sustainability officer Lisa Johnston explains how her company is working with Microsoft to help customers harness the power of artificial intelligence, digital twins and other technologies to gain the data-driven insights they need to optimise their operations and achieve their sustainability goals.    

Tell us how industrial digitisation can help support a net-zero economy as the world works to stave off the worst effects of climate change? 
Improving industrial production and efficiency with digitisation – whether through software or advanced automation – promises smarter operations, stronger business outcomes, and could help preserve the planet. Today’s volatile market demands underscore the value of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage for the future of advanced manufacturing. This means reshaping industries for greater productivity and flexibility, getting rid of waste from the value chain, and pushing technologies for better process control and resource management. 

The use of digital tools and end-to-end software can transform organisational data insight by combining artificial intelligence, digital twins and human insight, to unlock higher levels of performance. Industrial sustainability isn’t about doing less; it’s about greater operational efficiency, conserving energy and resources to shrink the industry’s environmental footprint.  

What are the biggest sustainability demands from the global energy and manufacturing sectors today?
The need for developing green industrial processes is increasingly becoming a top priority for organisations as they seek to reduce any adverse impact on the environment and allow for streamlined and efficient operations. We believe some of the biggest sustainability gains will be driven by industries such as energy and manufacturing. 

How is AVEVA working to build sustainability and energy efficiency into businesses? 
AVEVA is committed to working jointly with industry leaders worldwide to help them drive organisational sustainability, efficiency and performance. Our combined solutions optimise both engineering and operations, so AVEVA is well positioned to help increase energy efficiency, minimise noxious emissions and enable the effective use of valuable natural resources. 

These capabilities cut right through industrial sectors, from farming and manufacturing to energy production and pharmaceuticals. In every industry there exists the inherent potential to cut waste and enhance circularity. For example, water management companies are leveraging innovative industrial internet of things solutions to gain a single view of their operations to identify leaks quickly and remotely, slashing energy costs and water usage globally and saving farmers inspection driving time.  

Technology holds the key to accelerating sustainability pathways by empowering organisations to operate more efficiently and conserve energy across their operations. 

What is a ‘sustainability handprint’ and why is it important? 
Companies worldwide have already committed to reducing their collective environmental footprint. However, the newer concept of the ‘sustainability handprint’ refers to a company’s positive contributions to the environment through its business activities and partnerships.  

Given the nature of the capabilities they provide to their customers, technology companies can make a constructive impact on environmental sustainability. For example, data infrastructure management solutions such as the AVEVA’s PI System, delivered in partnership with Microsoft through the Azure cloud, can help thousands of diverse businesses find routes to achieve their sustainability goals and become climate positive. 

Through its innovative technology-led solutions, AVEVA can unlock long-term sustainability benefits for companies across the globe. This is our privilege and planetary legacy. 

In what ways can data-led innovation unlock sustainability benefits? 
Data-led innovation plays a significant part in achieving net-zero goals. Software and digitisation can provide insights so that industrial operations run efficient processes with digital transparency and unified control that can unlock smart scheduling and visualisation. Deeper analytics optimise assets while real-time data management ensures resilient industrial ecosystems and digitised traceability that supports circularity. 

How – and why – does business sustainability rely on strong partnerships? 
AVEVA recognises the power of partnership in achieving sustainable targets. We partner with customers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing advanced technologies to optimise production, improve environmental efficiency, decrease fuel costs and reduce waste.   

We also rely on trusted partners like Microsoft to help customers build resilient, zero-carbon operations that unlock inclusive and sustainable growth. While individual companies must each do their part, only collaborative action will achieve the critical mass necessary to realise net zero and go beyond to climate positivity. Working together is critical and will allow us to prevent global catastrophe. 

Can you share how AVEVA and Microsoft are jointly empowering customers to deliver on their digital transformation and net-zero commitments?  
Most sustainability challenges, like addressing the climate crisis and realising the Paris Agreement, are inherently complex. They demand collective action, new technology and scalable solutions to make progress. AVEVA’s solutions can be applied in partnership with strategic allies like Microsoft, to address such challenges for the industries we serve. By providing real-time energy data and supporting improved operational efficiency, we have the potential to help thousands of customers to cut their energy consumption and emissions.

An example is Ballard Power Systems, a provider of clean energy fuel cell solutions headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. Ballard wanted to build a repeatable, global model that would enable the optimisation of its fuel cells in the field globally. AVEVA Insight enabled Ballard to rapidly and securely implement a cloud-based approach on Microsoft Azure to monitor its operational fuel cell products. The real-time data and insights it gained, combined with the analytic capabilities, supported sound decision-making for Ballard and its customers. The company also enjoyed increased visibility of fuel cell performance and transparency of reporting on contractual obligations regarding fuel cell efficiency.      

AVEVA was named 2021 Microsoft Energy Partner of the Year. Why do you think you won this accolade? 
The Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards recognise partners that have developed and delivered outstanding Microsoft-based solutions and AVEVA was awarded for providing exceptional solutions and services across the energy sector. We were also honoured to be named a finalist for Sustainability Changemaker Partner of the Year. These awards acknowledge our industry-specific expertise in enabling energy and manufacturing organisations to meet their sustainability goals through advanced digital technologies.  

This article was originally published in the Winter 21/22 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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