The Internet of Things, or IoT, is the concept of bringing together the individual technologies that are shaping the future to build seamless, integrated, connected environments that boost efficiency. IoT is already having a huge impact on everything from domestic kitchens to industrial loading bay doors. But now, with more and more advances across the IoT sector, the capabilities of the concept are growing rapidly. One area that’s of huge interest right now is IoT’s potential to reduce the industrial carbon footprint, through its data management and reporting functionalities.
Industry’s carbon footprint
Industry is one of the worst offenders in terms of carbon footprint, accounting for 23% of total greenhouse gas emissions today. That’s equal to the CO2 output of agriculture, the commercial sector, and the residential sector combined, and only slightly lower than the output by transport and utilities. Here in the UK, the latest goal announced by the Government is to achieve a 78% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035 from the levels seen in 1990. If the country reaches this goal, we’d be more than three-quarters of the way towards meeting the ambitious target of ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050. With industry making up almost a quarter of all emissions, it’s clear that this sector is an area that must be a priority. And the good news is that, in a recent IoT survey, nearly half of all respondents said that they would be interested in using IoT technologies to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint.
5 ways IoT can help reduce industrial CO2 emissions
Industry 4.0 is happening. Many businesses operating in the industrial sector are already starting to digitise processes and utilise AI and machine learning. By incorporating IoT into these growth and development strategies, there are 5 clear ways that they can help reduce their carbon footprint, too:
IoT’s ability to collect and analyse big data from across industrial sites means that businesses can gain access to more in-depth historical trends than ever before. This allows them to make more accurate predictions about future patterns. Armed with a ‘big picture’ overview of energy use patterns, it’s possible to make better decisions that allow businesses to meet demand in the most efficient ways. For example, a greater understanding of access control needs can ensure that loading doors only open when necessary.
- Preventative maintenance
Many industrial businesses are still operating under a reactive maintenance policy. This means that minor issues are being ignored until larger concerns arise. The result is machinery and logistics fleets running inefficiently, consuming more energy than needed to maintain productivity. IoT is, however, making it easier to shift to preventative maintenance policies. Operations and emissions can be monitored in real time to address smaller inefficiencies, and facilitate proactive repairs and servicing.
- Environmental monitoring
IoT can give industrial businesses more information about how energy is used across the site. The biggest drains on energy sources can be identified through ongoing, real-time environmental monitoring. This provides businesses with the information they need to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy wastage, and ensure that energy is being used only where and when it’s required for operational continuity. This data is key to helping industrial organisations reduce their environmental impact.
- Better use of renewable energy
Renewable energy is being utilised more and more in industrial environments. This is not only transforming the sector, but also meeting growing consumer demand for sustainable operations. However, while businesses are able to use renewable energy, storing it remains a challenge. This is where IoT comes in. IoT-powered renewable energy storage systems are an emerging area of interest. They’re set to make it easier to store excess energy from sources such as wind and solar to be used at periods of high demand.
- Design of energy efficiency policies
One of the biggest obstacles to creating energy efficiency industrial sites has simply been data. Without solid data, organisations have found it difficult, if not impossible, to design and implement energy policies across their sites that help to keep consumption to a minimum and reduce the carbon footprint. Now, with increasing use of IoT, access to this essential data is easier to obtain. With IoT, businesses can adapt their industrial strategies to share best practices for energy usage.
Of course, reducing the industrial carbon footprint doesn’t just rely on IoT’s ability to collect, understand, and report on energy data across industrial environments. It also relies on IoT technologies themselves consuming energy in responsible ways, to minimise the environmental impact that businesses have. As we all know, the number of connected devices that are being made and used is growing at a rapid rate. And this is something that’s important to consider today, before it becomes an urgent issue tomorrow. We need to ensure that the environmental benefits of IoT aren’t offset by their own energy consumption. This can be quite high due to the number of devices, sensors, and data centres involved. So how can IoT itself be made ‘greener’? In fact, green IoT is already being considered. A number of solutions have been suggested to reduce the energy consumption of the technology. One of the most interesting solutions is selective sensing. This takes into account the context – the reason behind the data collection – and powers off sensors at times when that data isn’t present in the environment. Early research shows that this can result in 47.9% less energy usage. Another possibility is to combine workload distribution with the use of a virtualisation framework. Once again, studies have found that this solution could significantly reduce the energy usage of IoT, this time by around 36% in total. It’s also important to think about the impact of the devices involved in accessing data. Reports show that over 60% would like to access their IoT data using mobile devices, and more than 80% via computer. However, the IT industry is responsible for an estimated 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions; around the same percentage as the aviation industry! But again, there are solutions. Ideas that are already being implemented are the use of fanless computers and servers, alongside ultra-low-power CPUs to make IoT more energy-efficient than ever.
Fuelling the future
Green IoT strategies can help to prevent the predicted rise of energy usage as more and more IoT applications are used in industry. The data reporting and monitoring capabilities of IoT can actively help to reduce the industrial carbon footprint. And so, together, these two notions are key to minimising the impact of industry on the environment, in a future fuelled by connectivity and the Internet of Things. Gen8-IoT™ from Powerhouse Digital, is a groundbreaking industrial door management software solution. It increases the productivity of your operation, improving accuracy and cutting costs. It offers: Advance analytics, alert and notification tools to help prevent costly damages to people and assets.