Today, the topic of climate change and environmental awareness is at the forefront of society’s thoughts and actions as well as affecting governmental policies. Every day there is growing awareness of the problems caused by pollution and greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. The US Government has recently placed new bills before congress geared at funding climate change initiatives and sustainable innovation companies. Such companies can be both new businesses/startups as well as those looking to re-engineer their existing processes to be more environmentally friendly and less polluting (not an easy task by itself). These companies are looking for tools to maintain sustainable innovation. Some of you may have seen the recent videos by Dassault Systèmes explaining their vision and plans to contribute to this environmental-minded transformation.
Dassault is providing solutions to track negative environmental footprints, although this is still in the development phases in some respects. This short article will focus on six easy tools/solutions geared to engineering and manufacturing which can be implemented today in 3DEXPERIENCE to improve environmental awareness.
IP Classify & Reuse
This app allows for the control of classifications and categorization of data along with specific attributes extensions and additional access control. Using this app can be an easy way to associate and classify materials used in design and manufacturing to specific GHG emissions and other broader environmental polluting aspects. Look at the following links to GHG information as an example:
Documentation for Greenhouse Gas Emission and
Energy Factors Used in the Waste Reduction Model
Using the categories presented we can create classifications in the platform. For example, a classification of metals can include the different type of metals and the GHG footprint or other polluting aspects related to the production of the material as well as consumption. It is possible to break it down to the “how to create” (material acquisition) vs the emissions during the life cycle of the products, etc. Once such data is classified, reports can be created to determine such environmental footprints. This can apply to the product design itself, the manufacturing process (tooling, transportation, electricity per process) as well as packaging, etc.
Using simple customization (by means of traditional triggers (only on-premise solutions) or EKL it can also later be aggregated to the top product level for reporting and analysis. Such reports, for example can use basic formulas to traverse through the product structure or manufacturing objects and aggregate the overall emissions or pollution by material classification or over all emissions per product, etc. Entering the classifications can be done manually or imported programmatically if the data is available in a public digital database (academic or government institutes).
I realize that this is a simplistic approach and not too scientific or super accurate, but at least it increases awareness—people normally gravitate towards progress when they see the direct and immediate benefits in their life/industry. It is also better than not having any emission/pollution accountability. As I like to say identifying and reporting on what is going on is half the battle, the other is fixing based on what is found.
The requirements management app allows you to manage product requirements, link them to downstream data such as logical, functional or physical. It also has tight integration with MS Office and other promising functions as part of the overall product definition and quality aspects. This helps in creating and managing a digital twin (though we can leave the digital twin topic for another blog).
Whether you are required to be compliant with state or local government environmental regulations or you are a company looking to achieve sustainable innovation – managing requirements is a good place to start. For example, a requirement (a simplistic example) in the apparel industry would be to use not more than X liters of water per Y volume of specific garment’s fabric while producing a new seasonal fashion line item. In civil engineering and the construction industry, requirements can define how strong the concrete has to be, how much weight it can bear, its composition standard, etc. Tracking such requirements will increase awareness and can represent the latest advances in technology. It will also push the stakeholders in the process to comply as they will be forced to support to meet the “requirements” related to the data they are designing. For example, using 3DEXPERIENCE simulation to ensure a bridge will not collapse due to faulty concrete composition, yet simulate the design based on a new technology or concrete composition with fewer emissions. It could help to keep the parties involved on their toes when it comes to environmental standards and the latest technology advances.
Business Analytics is a powerful AI tool in the platform based on the Exalead brand. Using analytics would allow companies to generate necessary reporting based on connecting and aggregating data from multiple sources and applying certain business rules. This will require more effort, time and scientific input to implement as well as likely to be more expensive (“green premium”) than the other solutions proposed earlier. It would also require on premise implementation. However, it may have substantial benefits. As an example, such a solution can aggregate data and rules from various public GHG/pollution information systems, data from the design and manufacturing processes, which is managed in the platform, related costs factors, etc. but as I mention earlier it would likely have a higher “green premium” associated with its initial implementation.
A lot has been said about the topic of digital twin and how the digital (“virtual”) representation of the product, processes and the simulation of its behavior will reduce errors and improve product quality, save costs on inventory and prototyping, etc. Dassault Systèmes even took it to the next level by introducing the concept of the digital (virtual) user experience of the product. Dassault Systèmes has recently published a couple of videos about environmental aspects and climate change in which they describe the importance of the simulation tool in the platform (based on the SIMULIA brand) in reducing the environmental negative footprint.
In essence it comes down to saving energy and materials on prototyping as well as the ability to simulate different configurations of the product to use different or fewer materials. By doing this, companies can decrease GHG emissions and other pollutions as a result of consuming certain materials or producing/acquiring it (for example, using less steel and cement in certain building construction and use linear/non-linear simulation to ensure the structure stability is not compromised). I encourage you to read and watch some of Dassault Systèmes’ materials on this topic as I have only scratched the surface here.
Program and project management has a broader usage. If you look at the referenced guide for example (Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management for
Small Business & Low Emitters), such a plan (the different steps and respective documentation) or emissions reduction targets can be tracked and managed using the out-of-the-box project management role in the platform. I acknowledge that by itself, this tool is not much different than any other program/project management tool out there. However, combined with the other tools specified in this article it provides a much more wholistic approach to achieving GHG emission and pollution reduction control. This role is available both on cloud as well as on premise implementation for 3DEXPERIENCE.
Full disclosure: I have not much been around material compliancy in PLM in a while. The Dassault material compliance solution manages materials compliancy in product design and manufacturing per certain regulation or requirements as in the case of the European REACH regulation. It also allows managing authorized material vendors, etc. Although this solution is geared more toward chemicals and often used in electronics and medical devices, it can possibly be expanded through configuration/customization to handle GHG emissions per certain materials or manufacturing resources and processes. Though, admittedly, I have not experimented enough with this solution to provide any concrete methodology. This could be an interesting area to explore how such a solution can help make products greener.
If you are a new innovative company or one that wants to reengineer its processes to address the GHG emissions, pollution and other environmental aspects, there are tools available today to help you. You can start implementing simple existing PLM solutions and tools in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform in an effort to increase environmental awareness, reduce GHG emissions and pollution with a fairly minimal “green premium” from an implementation standpoint.