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COVER STORY


A NEW GENERATION OF MANUFACTURING: Moving Towards a Green Recovery


By Mark Keogh, Vice President for Buildings & Industry Business at Schneider Electric


O


ne of the most difficult years in modern history has struck the industrial world hard. From supply chains to factory floors, the sector has had to adjust to meet consumer demands, comply with government requirements, and control increasing costs, against the backdrop of a global pandemic. Yet, it has shown how adaptable the industry can be. The continued adoption of new digital technologies will ensure that industry can not only lead a green recovery successfully, but also deliver highly skilled technology careers, paving the way for the next generation of talent. Despite Ireland’s economy faring


better than most, we cannot be complacent. As the manufacturing industry looks to reestablish itself and continue growing after the pandemic, industry must change its outlook, concentrating on sustainability and people-centric green recovery. By adopting new policies and investing in technology to protect the environment, we will remain on the right trajectory to reaching ambitious net zero goals.


A NEW LEASE OF LIFE Now it’s become clear that the industrial world can no longer inhabit an environment of proprietary systems and vendor lock-in. We must now come together to ensure that not only the full promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is realised but also that employee wellbeing and sustainability can be optimized. Organisations must recognise


that next-generation industrial automation must be interoperable to break free from the current closed, propriety model. It’s time for universal automation based on the IEC 61499 standard for interoperability, making all systems easy to implement and plug together. Instead of being dependent on one vendor’s system,


6 MAY 2021 | IRISH MANUFACTURING


OEMs, integrators, and end users can build the automation systems they need with the best ‘plug-and-produce’ solutions from multiple providers. The result will be the equivalent of an Industrial App Store and will provide manufacturers a new lease of life.


ADVANCING PROCESSES AND EMPOWERING INDIVIDUALS With the adoption of universal automation, manufacturers and process industries can achieve step- change advancements. Industrial technology keeps people safe, empowered and engaged, helping retain and attract new talent. It facilitates knowledge-sharing and training, and creates new types of jobs. Not only this, but empowered employees make fast, informed decisions, boosting productivity and operational efficiency – through solutions like augmented reality and secure remote access. Technology can unchain workers from repetitive tasks and allows them to bring more value with skills that can’t be done by a machine. Imagination, reasoning, judgement and improvisation will be left to individuals, with robots doing the heavy lifting and cobots supporting people on the factory floor. In this new era, it is vital that we understand that technology not only advances processes but also empowers people. The industrial world needs to transform the way people are employed in industrial settings and ensure businesses contribute to the advancement of society.


ACHIEVING


SUSTAINABILITY GOALS


With Ireland’s government approving / IRISHMANUFACTURING


Schneider Electric www.se.com/ie


a climate bill that enshrines emissions reduction targets in law and puts the country on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050, we are on the right path to a green recovery. However, we must reimagine sustainability in industrial sectors to ensure success. It can be done, as our own net zero factories make clear. This includes reducing waste, increasing circularity, and encouraging electrification and decarbonisation for efficiency and sustainability. It must be tangible and relevant.


Industrial companies have a huge role


to play in combatting climate change. Digital transformation in industry can achieve these sustainability goals. Eliminating waste and optimising operations is good not only for the bottom line but also for the planet. Ensuring that products are locally made and sustainably sourced will help build a sustainable future and support the communities in which they operate.


THE FUTURE IS GREEN It is critical to ensure that businesses fully adapt and embrace the new digital world to guarantee long-term growth. Businesses must restructure and align their organisations to realise the full value of emerging technology, which will not only aid in future green recovery but will also ensure business efficiency and success.


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