Volume 5 Issue 3 March 2023

In this Issue

Welcome to Industree 4.0 for March, 2023, exclusively sponsored by SAP.


By Susan Galer and Kai Aldinger


Sustainability Trends 2023:

Goodbye Greenwashing, Hello Business Results

This year’s forecast of sustainability trends looks like the perfect storm (in a good way) of purpose-minded, yet business opportunity-led progress. Although Forrester analysts expected at least 10 companies to incur $5 million or more in greenwashing fines, the longer term outlook for meaningful environmental impact is far brighter. Other researchers predicted that political bodies worldwide would support nation-state commitments to invest tens of trillions of dollars in climate mitigation from 2025 to 2035. Prodded by consumer demands and impelled by increasingly stringent regulations, the business sector has taken notice and actions to create a more sustainable future. Here’s a summary of their investment priorities.

Customer concerns are followed by regulations

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their favorite products, prompting a wave of new packaging regulations and new plastic taxes that extend corporate producer responsibility to the post-consumer phase of the product lifecycle and include packaging. As such, this also affects manufacturers and producers of packaging, who will increasingly have to prove that their products have been produced sustainably. Furthermore, they also have a responsibility to implement processes that allow for the reuse of materials. Consumers prefer brands that demonstrate responsible use of the earth's resources and more sustainable practices, while also being affordable.

In parallel, governments and administrations around the world are introducing new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations, where a manufacturer's responsibility for a product extends to its use, disposal and reuse after consumption. With more than 400 different EPR schemes in place or being introduced around the world, this is an increasingly complex issue for companies, particularly consumer goods manufacturers and their packaging suppliers. Under the Blue Box program in Ontario, Canada, for example, the companies concerned are required to report data on packaging and material quantities.

Managing materials and regulatory data is increasingly posing significant challenges for companies. Software solutions such as SAP Responsible Design and Production can help companies manage their obligations to producer responsibility organizations by providing a unified view of packaging materials, production, and the market in which they are sold, as well as automated reporting to the many EPR schemes around the world. Find out more with a trial of SAP Responsible Design and Production. 

Getting accurate, quality ESG data

This shows clearly that Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards and regulations are becoming a dominant force in how organizations operate, touching every part of the business. In the US, the SEC is slated to enact more ESG regulations for investors, while the UK Plastic Packaging Tax is expected to transform global supply chains worldwide. According to Deborah Kaplan, global head of sustainability at SAP Customer Success, corralling and understanding tons of disparate data is the biggest challenge for organizations – regardless of where they sit on the sustainability preparedness spectrum.

“Companies need data transparency with detailed precision along the entire value chain. They have to act quickly as ESG frameworks and standards evolve, embedding into every business process sustainability metrics that are aligned with the company strategy,” said Kaplan. “We’re seeing customers replace time-consuming, inaccurate manual approaches with a holistic steering and reporting solution like SAP Sustainability Control Tower. It simplifies data visibility, allowing companies to record, report, and act on quality data across the value chain with built-in assurance and audit capabilities.”

IDC analysts predicted by 2024, 30% of organizations will use ESG data management platforms to steer ESG KPIs through a centralized system of record for reporting purposes and real-time operational decision-making support. Within three years, these analysts said ESG performance will be viewed as a top three decision factor for IT equipment purchases; over 50% of RFPs will include metrics regarding carbon emissions, material use, and labor conditions.

Connected data provides organizational accountability

With Scope 3 emission regulations on the rise and continuously changing, organizational leaders have realized the value of connected data to track, report, and reduce climate impact. Gartner researchers said that customer expectations around environmental and social sustainability will apply to the entire product life cycle, predicting that “buyers will speak with their wallets by purchasing only from companies and suppliers that demonstrate authentic achievement of commitments.” The firm found that 67% of organizations intend to hold supply chain leaders accountable for defined environmental and social sustainability KPIs.

By next year, IDC analysts predicted 80% of G2000 companies will capture their carbon data and report their enterprise-wide carbon footprint using quantifiable metrics compared with 50% today. Gartner researchers said that by 2027, 50% of the top 10 consumer goods manufacturers will have “digital product passports” for at least one of their product categories. Essentially a digital thread, passports will track the product’s carbon footprint, waste, liability and risk, and more, sharing information company-wide and with suppliers and regulatory agencies.

Innovating sustainable business models

Sustainability is good for business, and not just because it mitigates regulatory compliance risk. Researchers say the ability to efficiently navigate the global regulatory environment and scale compliance systems will offer companies a significant competitive advantage. Urging business leaders to think further ahead, these analysts predicted a “carbon flip” after “an intensive period of innovation in climate mitigation technologies that is already under way, to be followed by roughly 20 years of implementation for scalable solutions and replacement of carbon-based technologies.”

Meanwhile there are plenty of near-term business results from the sustainability wave. By next year, IDC  analysts predicted a quarter of organizations worldwide will demonstrate responsible leadership by increasing their sustainability-related digital technology spend by more than 25% from 2022 levels. Within three years, they said 45% of G2000 organizations will operationalize integrated sustainability in the supply chain and effectively report impact data, enabling 10% reduction in waste and improving competitive advantage.

As sustainability has morphed from carbon emissions tracking into company-wide commitments to achieve global imperatives, organizations of all kinds find themselves in the business of creating a healthier world. Surely that’s progress that will help us breathe a little easier and live longer.

Want to learn more? Read this Oxford Economics supply chain research that highlights the paradox between a focus on sustainability and driving efficiency and revenue goals.

Building I4: Level 0, Sensors

By Pat Dixon, PE, PMP

Vice President of Automation, Pulmac Systems International (pulmac.com)

In last month’s article, you may notice that we have missed a huge portion of the maintenance scope. We did not cover the multitudes of sensors providing data. These are continually in use, so maintaining usage data for transmitters and sensors is not pertinent. There are several asset management systems (AMS) on the market made to support maintenance of field instruments. An AMS may provide features that are specific to field instruments that you would not find in Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), such as calibration tools and management of device definition files for digital instruments. They may also provide tools for valves such as stroke testing. Therefore, there is some overlap between AMS and CMMS. This can mean you have both systems being used independently, which can lead to maintenance headaches to maintain the maintenance systems. Quite a paradox!

HART was introduced in 1986; its 39 years old. It allowed the traditional 4-20 milli-amp signal from an analog transmitter to have an additional digital component super-imposed on it. The additional digital information could give you configuration and calibration information, as well as additional features such as accumulation calculated in the device. For example, if you have a mass-flow measurement for a critical material that you are adding to a tank and want precise control of how much you are putting in, the mass flow meter could do the accumulation itself and send it to the control device through a digital HART signal. Therefore, your control device could have one pair of wires that connects to the mass flow transmitter in the same way as before and get the same 4-20 milli-amp signal for the real-time mass flow measurement, but also enable you to get an accumulation, calibration, and configuration information.

Around 1999, Fieldbus was introduced. This allowed instrumentation to be connected with a multi-drop cable instead of having to wire each instrument individually. While it does not provide for 4-20 milli-amp signals like HART, it can provide power to the field device, which can reduce the number of power supplies needed. It is a digital-only communication protocol that (like HART) provides a lot more information than just the measured signal.

Over time, new field protocols have proliferated. What used to be a standard analog 4-20 milli-amp approach has become a buffet of services. An engineer designing their control system has choices to make that didn’t exist prior to 1986. These more recent protocols put the conversion of analog to digital communication in the transmitter, instead of at a field termination panel at a controller.  

The issue that arises with digital field communication is the configuration and maintenance of this instrumentation. To map the signals to meaningful tags/parameters, a configuration data file is loaded into the controller so that it knows what to do with the signals it is receiving. Each instrument can have its own data file that is required to make it communicate.

How do we manage all of those data files? How do we effectively maintain these instruments?

Asset Management is an application that maintains an inventory of assets (like instruments) and can manage the associated configuration files. Having a centralized system makes it much more manageable than having to hunt around for disks or Internet downloads to get devices to talk. When you have operating system or control system upgrades, you want to be able to restore communication to the field without having to figure out what may or may not work after the upgrade.

Instrumentation is one kind of asset. Motors are another kind of asset. There are Asset Management applications that can maintain motor runtimes to help determine when maintenance is merited and can process work orders and maintain a history of prior maintenance. Managing maintenance this way is helpful for any asset, including instrumentation.  

Valves are also assets. An Asset Management application that could help diagnose stiction and hysteresis can be very helpful. Work order history and processing is also a desirable attribute of such a system.

More complex equipment, like a compressor, is also an asset. An Asset Management application could be used for maintenance not only of the motor that drives it, but to also include the complete asset. Can we use machine learning in this Asset Management application to predict required maintenance? Can it include maintenance procedures and checklists for the entire unit, not just the motor? Can it include an inventory of spare parts for the asset?

At this point, it should be clear that Asset Management could mean a lot of things. Depending on what assets we are referring to, an Asset Management System could have different meanings.

Motors, valves, and compressors are not new assets. Many of the digital communication protocols to field devices (like HART) are not new. However, the proliferation of these digital protocols has created a new environment in which Asset Management Systems are increasingly desirable. That has led to the application of these systems for instrumentation as well as other assets.

When considering an investment in an Asset Management System, it should be noted that nearly every instrument or controller on the market today supports HART. However, the vast majority of HART enabled systems do not make use of these capabilities. Even though additional functionality is provided by the digital capabilities, most of the industry with these with digital capabilities just wire in the 4-20 milli-amp signal and do nothing more. To justify an Asset Management System for instrumentation, these capabilities need to be applied.

As with any system, it breaks if it is not used. It may sometimes be more convenient to use a handheld meter to diagnose or maintain an asset in the field, but if information bypasses the Asset Management System you will have a system with bad information. Therefore, investing in such a system requires a commitment to use it.

When you are presented with an Asset Management System, some questions to ask are:

  • What assets does it manage?

  • Will it include management of data files for digital field communication?

  • Are we going to make use of the digital field communication capabilities we have?

  • Are we going to be disciplined in our use of the system?

  • How does the system commission new assets or decommission out of service assets?

  • Will it need to synchronize inventory with an ERP/SAP type of system?


Data that is directed to CMMS and AMS systems can ensure that E&I prioritize their activities, so that the quality of data from sensors can be maintained. To build an I4 system, you need to start at Level 0. 

Sustainability comes with a profit demand

I am just back from the Smithers Sustainability Conference in Chicago (9 - 10 March 2023). As Susan and Kai are discussing above, we are past the talking stage and must bring profitability into the discussion. Packaging is a broad subject and the solutions promulgated are both of the aspirational type and those being implemented with a real dose of profitability reality. Chemical, plastic and fiber solutions were discussed, based on the application. Arguments occurred between those coming from different viewpoints.

I see all of this as healthy, for the consumer and the regulator are going to ultimately decide how to deal with the subject of sustainable packaging. There were clearly viewpoints that were real solutions and those that were merely "label slapping" (I'll label this as "sustainable" whether it is or not).

Green washing is label slapping and there was much discussion about this. What I find encouraging is that responsible people are discussing these matters with an eye towards profitability. That is the first step towards, again, real solutions.

How Do NFTs and Metaverse Fit Into IoT?

By Iot for all

Metaverse is the new buzzword in today’s technological sector. It enables the users to interact and engage in multiple activities like gaming, entertainment, or business through a virtual world. The Metaverse is essentially considered the future of social media. As a result, more people have started taking an interest in the Metaverse. Businesses also see it as an opportunity to capture the emerging market space. Interestingly, the platforms available on Metaverse only allow transactions through cryptocurrencies. Users can use cryptos to buy Metaverse resources like NFTs and digital real estate, and apart from that, IoT has a major role in enabling Metaverse functioning.

Read the full article here

Reasons to Deploy AI At The Edge - And How To Overcome Edge AI Challenges

By Forbes

Artificial intelligence (AI) is pervasive. From online shopping recommenders to weather apps, its adoption is increasing rapidly. The digitization of manufacturing in the realm of Industry 4.0 has fueled the adoption of AI in manufacturing automation with a gamut of applications like defect detection, quality inspection and worker safety, to name a few.

Read the full article here

5 Benefits of the Connected Packaging Worker

By Eric Whitley

The connected worker model combines the human element with applications or software integrated into a company’s environment and connects them to various departments — such as operators and maintenance teams. Tablets and smartphones connected to a cloud management platform are one of the most popular ways that factories connect their teams.

Read the full article here

Manufacturers Are Falling Behind on Digital Transformation. How Can They Catch Up?

By Matthew Greenwood

Digital transformation promises to help manufacturers optimize their operations and gain competitive advantage—but they need to play catch-up to realize those benefits.

Read the full article and listen to the podcast here
Industree 4.0 is exclusively sponsored by SAP