It is safe to say that sustainability is now mission critical across industry. Take the verdict of business school IMD as an example, citing Accenture and McKinsey research. “Simply put, sustainability is a business approach to creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a given organisation operates in the ecological, social, and economic environments. Sustainability is built on the assumption that developing such strategies fosters company longevity.
“The message from COP26 rang loud and clear for global corporations: align your business strategy to sustainability targets and reap monetary rewards. Drag your feet and you’ll lose out.”
But what does this look like in practice? Here, Sustainable Future News looks at three industries – maritime, mail, and industrial – where recent research or technology initiatives have taken place.
Ingersoll Rand, a manufacturer of mission-critical equipment for industrial and process applications, recently announced a partnership with Aqualung, a provider of membrane technology, around democratising carbon capture.
The Head of Agreement (HoA) contract brings together Ingersoll Rand’s blowers and vacuum pumps with Aqualung’s patented technology. Almost half of Aqualung’s carbon capture unit costs are attributed to machinery – hence the need for a supply chain partner.
According to BloombergNEF, global capacity for carbon capture in 2030 is set to increase sixfold from levels today, to 279 million tons of CO2 captured per year. Yet carbon capture remains a point of contention for many environmentalists. A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) in September 2022 found that of 13 CCS projects examined – accounting for more than half of the world’s current operational capacity – seven underperformed, two failed, and one was mothballed.
The key element of the Ingersoll Rand and Aqualung partnership is to attempt to make carbon capture viable and available to medium- and smaller-scale operations, as well as creating a ‘safe, absorbent-free, and highly compact carbon capture system for industrial gas and biogas’. The first commercial unit is set to launch soon in Arkansas.
Kristof Suykerbuyk, market development manager, sustainable energy markets at Ingersoll Rand, explains it was a traditional ‘vendor-customer’ conversation at first, but it gradually evolved into a more holistic partnership approach when Aqualung realised the differentiated value Ingersoll Rand could provide.
“We are what we call the one-stop shop,” notes Suykerbuyk. “Whenever there is a gas that needs to be taken from point A to point B, and the pressure needs to be increased or reduced, or compressed, we have a wide array of technologies for that. And depending on the exact operating point, we will be able to find the winning technology for the application. If you look at the market dynamics in sustainable and renewable energy, what you see happening is that no company is going after these large opportunities by themselves,” adds Suykerbuyk.
In terms of the wider carbon capture market, Suykerbuyk says it is now mature enough to go into larger scale. “If you’re looking at the end user markets, think about everything in power generation for example, where large flue gas streams are exhausted. Those applications will be very suitable to have large scale carbon capture systems connected to it.
“I would say that the traditionally larger polluters will be motivated to dramatically improve their production processes.”
Quadient, headquartered in Bagneux, France, is an almost 90-year-old company whose interests are in mailing equipment, business process automation and customer experience management. The company aims to be the ‘driving force behind the world’s most meaningful customer experiences.’ While a lot of Quadient’s offerings are based around software today, the company believes the bricks and mortar of physical mail – and its various locations – can be delivered more sustainably.
Parcel Pending by Quadient is the company’s smart open locker network offering which boasts more than 18,000 installations and more than 72 million packages delivered annually. Among the promises are reduced operational costs by up to 50% based on client data, faster deliveries, and greater efficiencies – both in terms of customers getting their message across and for the environment.
The company recently announced the expansion of its service in the UK to include two new host partners: APCOA, which operates more than 400 car parking locations nationwide, and Rontec, who looks after more than 250 roadside retail forecourts. This translates to more than 1,000 potential new sites for lockers – and the message is one of sustainability from Quadient. Lockers can ‘transform a location into a community hub that provides consumers with an essential destination, reducing the distance travelled and journeys taken by both couriers and consumers, and contributing to a more sustainable future’, in the company’s words.
“Our parcel locker solutions provide benefits at all levels,” says Ian Caminsky of Quadient DACHIT-UKI, “from the hosts who are opening up new revenue streams through fees and increased footfall, and to carriers who can reach more customers more efficiently with fewer stops, to consumers who can send and receive parcels securely at their own convenience, and to local communities that see lower traffic.”
For APCOA, such smart lockers are being seen as another step on its sustainability journey, from electric vehicle charging points, to ‘urban mobility hubs’, which aim to turn existing parking locations into distribution and logistics centres. The lockers ‘will help our customers make fewer journeys, reducing their fuel use and costs while helping create a more sustainable environment’, the company said.
Much like Ingersoll Rand noted the importance of collaboration when it came to industrial products and sustainability, the same can be said in the maritime sector.
It is certainly an important industry in terms of emissions. According to figures from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), maritime transport represents about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions globally. Recent research from Wärtsilä, a Finland-based manufacturer of equipment for the marine and energy markets, has argued that decarbonisation is a pressing issue for more than half (57%) of maritime professionals surveyed – and that eight out of 10 polled said they recognised the importance of digital technologies in reducing emissions.
Wärtsilä sees itself in a position to potentially lead the way in such decarbonisation. The company’s offerings include those around engine power plants, energy storage technology, and hydro services, as well as lifecycle solutions, guaranteeing operation, maintenance, or asset performance.
Kay Dausendschoen, head of product fleet operations and optimisation at Wärtsilä, argues that one pitfall around the concept of ‘digital transformation’ to date is seeing it as an all-or-nothing venture. “Each organisation within the maritime industry is at a different stage of its own journey, and so we must appreciate it as an iterative and stepwise process,” he explains.
“Although maritime is moving in the right direction, there is still much work to be done to bridge the gaps, break the silos, between digital systems. To do this, we can and must share and learn from each other’s experiences,” he adds. “We need to work together to build an ecosystem where digital technology on board a ship talk to those in offices on shore.” What does this look like in practice? Learning to share data, agreeing on standardisation, as well as better regulation to keep pace with technology, according to Dausendschoen.
Progress has been made in the industry to a degree. At the beginning of 2023, the IMO’s Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) requirement came into effect, meaning it is mandatory for all ships to measure their energy efficiency. Wärtsilä issued its own CII offering in September which allows vessel operators to collect, report, and analyse operational CII of their managed fleet.
“CII provides the perfect catalyst to bring digitally-enabled decision-making even closer to the heart of how the sector captures, processes, and reports emission data,” explains Dausendschoen. “Adopting a data-driven decision-making approach to decarbonisation means that vessel operators will be better positioned to invest wisely, adapting their operations, technologies, and use of their fleet to turn compliance requirements into business opportunities.”
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