Ansys director of application, Dr. Pepi Maksimovic leads a team of experts focused on developing and delivering innovative simulation solutions for complex technical projects to clients across a variety of industries, including, energy, process, automotive, off-highway, aerospace, and consumer products.
Sustainable Future News spoke with Pepi about her current role and how Ansys can help your business achieve net zero.
What’s your professional background, and what brought you to Ansys?
I hold a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan and following this, kicked off my career in engineering. In 2000 I joined the team at Ansys as a Technical Services Engineer, and over two decades later I now hold the role as Director of Application Engineering. I’m responsible for leading a team of technical experts, focused on developing and delivering innovative simulation solutions for complex technical projects.
We work with clients across a variety of industries including energy, process, automotive, off-highway, aerospace, and consumer products. I use my expertise in identifying and driving technical strategy to deliver simulation solutions based on the specific engineering and business requirements of a client to help them accelerate their product development, improve efficiencies, and meet time and cost targets.
What does Ansys do, and what makes it stand out from similar organisations?
For over 50 years, Ansys engineering simulation software has enabled innovators across industries to push boundaries using the predictive power of simulation. From sustainable transportation and advanced semiconductors to satellite systems and life-saving medical devices, the next great leaps in human advancement will be powered by Ansys.
I think a key differentiator at Ansys is that we are committed to creating a better world. Our customers use simulation to reduce their own carbon footprints and the carbon footprints of their products. And at the heart of our ESG initiatives, is our commitment to advancing sustainability through our products, investing in our people and our ‘ONE Ansys’ culture, operating responsibly, and collaborating with stakeholders.
Tell us about how simulation can help companies regarding the energy crisis?
The energy crisis has forced firms to look very critically at the efficiency of their products, processes, and materials. Simulation can play a big role in giving companies the information they need to improve decision-making processes and ultimately overall efficiency. By knowing exactly how a product will work in the real world or knowing the output and energy use of specific parts or processes, for example, firms can ensure that they are as energy efficient as possible allowing them to reduce costs whilst minimising their environmental impact.
How can your Anysys assist businesses in their journey to become net zero?
Sustainability isn’t just about preserving our natural resources; it’s about sustaining humankind. That’s a monumental undertaking, but it’s something simulation helps to make possible across the product life cycle by accelerating development and scale-up of cleaner technologies, speeding time to market, ensuring natural and people resources are used efficiently, reducing product footprint on the environment, and saving costs.
Simulation is essential in showing precisely how products will work, enabling innovators to move confidently from new ideas to reality at the pace our planet needs now. It helps engineering teams understand how to conserve resources and lower emissions when improving existing products. Reaching beyond the design and development stage, simulation also shows how companies can follow more efficient practices to make manufacturing, operations, and end-of-life processes more environmentally responsible.
Alongside the sustainable services you offer your customers, how are you as a company working towards becoming more sustainable?
We strive to reduce the environmental and climate impact of our own operations by measuring, analysing, and reducing our resource use and emissions. In 2022, we announced a goal to reduce our scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 15% by 2027. Our environmental strategy focuses on reducing overall emissions by continuing to implement projects that help us optimise our operations and manage climate-related risks and opportunities in alignment with TCFD.
Some business leaders argue that investing in environmental and social endeavours leads to unnecessary costs and ultimately cuts into their bottom line. What would you say to that? What are the key business benefits of investing in sustainable services and why should companies do it?
I think it’s a real shame if businesses think in this way as this is something that every organisation should be prioritising. It’s not only local governments putting pressure on sustainability with various targets and initiatives, but big investors and banks are also considering how sustainable a business is based on its ESG initiatives and carbon reduction plans. This also applies to recruiting. Jobseekers are more likely to accept jobs from sustainable companies, meaning this is something every organisation needs to seriously consider.
Sustainability has become a powerful driver that’s been reshaping the business landscape. Companies who are responding in a responsible manner to these social and environmental changes and challenges will be better prepared for the future and come ahead in the longer run. To quote Tim Cook, CEO, of Apple: “If you are an executive who has not developed an innovation strategy to address your impact on the climate, then you are failing in your duties as a leader”.
What is the importance of materials and life-cycle management with regard to sustainability?
While much of municipal solid waste consists of organic solids, landfills are also crowded with discarded consumer and industrial products. For example, in the US alone, more than 400 million electronic items are discarded annually, with 80% of those items ending in landfills. They contain both hazardous heavy metals and flame retardants, as well as valuable elements such as precious metals and rare earth elements. The end-of-life environmental impact of these products along with increasing recycling rates are key areas of focus for the world’s manufacturers.
Of course, engineers also leverage materials to deliver positive environmental outcomes. Metal alloys and plastic composites have demonstrated their ability to make aircraft and cars lighter, thus decreasing fossil fuel consumption. Renewable energy sources, coupled with flexible energy storage systems, particularly battery technologies, show promise to displace fossil fuels and their associated carbon emissions. The reliable performance of solar-powered energy grids depends on optimising the materials involved in energy collection and storage. There can be no doubt that material and process engineering provide important parts of the solution for combatting climate change.
What are, in your opinion, the key sustainability questions a business needs to be able to answer?
In my opinion, every business needs to have clarity, at minimum, to the following questions: what is our impact on people, society and the environment? What impact do we want to make? Are we improving the quality of life for people and society, do we make a positive impact on the world around us? Are we prepared to evolve with time and contribute to a positive change in the world?
What do you feel are the key issues organisations will have to look for around corporate sustainability for 2023?
We’re likely to see more disclosures and information surrounding environmental sustainability, particularly related to climate impacts and opportunities, carbon reduction, frameworks like TCFD and SASB, and emerging regulations.
What are your company’s plans around sustainability in the coming 12 months?
Ansys will continue to place a big focus on sustainability, and this feeds into the customers we’re continuing to do great work with. These customers, from virtually every industry, are using simulation as a superpower to meet their sustainability goals. Companies in the energy sector are focused on decarbonisation through a larger deployment of renewables and hydrogen, integration of energy systems, elimination of fugitive emissions, improving low-carbon energy alternatives, and optimising operations with digital twins that are enabled by simulation and artificial intelligence.
Automakers are transforming into electric mobility companies while improving aerodynamics and reducing vehicle weight to improve range. The aerospace industry is exploring new propulsion and fuel storage solutions while implementing advanced manufacturing and model-based system engineering. The high-tech sector is using simulation to design more energy-efficient electronics that are designed with material intelligence to improve e-waste recovery. And heavy industries, which make the industrial machines and materials that are used to make products for other industries, are transitioning to digital workflows that rely on the industrial internet of things to optimise operations, save energy, and control pollution.
Because so many customers across industry sectors are applying simulation to their sustainability efforts, we have divided our sustainability-focused solutions into four pillars:
1. Clean Environment, which includes Ansys solutions that help our customers filter pollution out of our environment, use energy more efficiently and even capture carbon from the air.
2. Materials and Circularity solutions that are revolutionising the way customers create, manufacture, sell, recapture, sort, and reuse products to design waste out of our shared future.
3. Energy Solutions that enable our customers to drive the decarbonisation of energy systems by providing technical leverage to transition to energy-efficient and renewable solutions.
4. Manufacturing and Operational Efficiency solutions that help manufacturers plan and optimise operations to use materials more efficiently and improve reliability, which reduces power consumption and emissions.
We recently launched our online series called, Earth Rescue, where anyone can visit and see all the exciting work we’re doing with our customers.
We are excited to work with our expansive ecosystem of partners and customers to deliver the predictive insights of simulation, whenever and wherever they’re needed, to accelerate the next great leaps in human advancement.
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