How to create more sustainable operations – one asset at a time

Discover why IoT data and AI are key to greener decisions for your operations, your customers and the planet

By | 6 minute read | May 5, 2021

Man checking operations

We celebrated the first Earth Day 50+ years – a day designed to put environmental concerns on the global agenda. Today, more than 105 companies (including IBM) have signed the Climate Pledge to reduce carbon emissions.  Sustainability is certainly not a new concept, but it is a critical imperative for today’s business operations.

“Doing well by doing good” for your organization

The desire to be a more earth-friendly organization is more than altruistic. It’s also good for business – “doing well by doing good.” That’s why today, we’ll focus on the ways you can create more sustainable operations while you also deliver more value to your organization.

Create a more sustainable approach to managing your assets

A more sustainable organization starts with your assets. Consider the number of assets needed in your operations. Each has a finite lifecycle that includes maintenance, refurbishment and/or replacement, which are not always the most eco-friendly activities. A better approach is to extend the life of each of those assets. You can reduce waste by incorporating end-to-end sustainability considerations, like enterprise asset management for more operational efficiencies. For example, you can reduce the amount of fuel your technicians use by eliminating unplanned maintenance trips. You can also save on energy costs by pinpointing a small problem before it becomes bigger, more energy-draining issue.

Multiply those efficiencies across your enterprise and the sustainability gains become even more impressive. By leveraging best-practice industry models you can optimize your asset maintenance strategies and pave the way for next-generation, sustainable capabilities like digital twin engineering and AI-driven asset performance.

Enhance the performance of every asset for even more sustainable operations

The essential elements of sustainable operations management are reduced labor coupled with improved products and service quality. Better uptime, as well as understanding the root cause of failure and defects is key to process optimization in every industry. Many organizations, however, have already wrung out what they can from a traditional approach to improving operations. That’s why AI-powered capabilities for asset performance management are critical for a more efficient, sustainable model. Use them for remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, as well as visual and auditory inspections. Predictive maintenance alone can improve asset availability by 20% and extend the lives of machines by years, which also reduces C02 emissions. You’ll gain a better way to monitor and manage your assets, increase their efficiency and evaluate their quality, all at scale.

From your assets to your facilities: making your buildings as green as possible

Creating facilities that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient is really thinking about asset management at a building level. And like every other asset that has a lifecycle, you can make them more sustainable through every phase. From siting to design, construction to operation (including facilities management, maintenance and renovation) to the deconstruction of that space, you can apply the same advanced asset management technology and processes that we discussed above.

For example, when it comes to your offices, you can monitor space, understand how it’s being used and right-size your real estate. Just like a manufacturing facility, you can manage and monitor the assets within each structure – like HVAC systems, elevators and even the exit signs – and use AI-driven insights to perform predictive instead of reactive maintenance and reduce both the energy used and the overall carbon footprint of your portfolio. And a digital twin of your facility – just like a digital twin on any other assets – lets you mirror and monitor building systems and troubleshoot problems before wasting resources on unnecessary or inaccurate repairs.

Don’t just worry about the weather – plan for and respond to it

From acquiring raw materials to making the last-mile delivery to the end consumer, weather impacts every facet of business, every day. Couple that with that fact that in 2020, there were 22 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the US alone and you can understand why modeling the risk from weather is so critical to your operations. In the same way that IoT data and AI can help protect your assets, when combined with your proprietary and third-party geospatial information, this data can help you prepare for the unexpected. For example, accurate weather data allows you to better predict energy demand and reduce waste so that you don’t buy more power than you need. You can also reduce C02 emissions from vehicles by using weather information to predict and avoid disruptions and plot the most efficient routes.

Put technology to work for your business … and the planet

Without a doubt, being better stewards of the planet is shaping a new corporate agenda. Purpose-driven consumers are putting their money behind companies that address their environmental concerns. Employees, especially Millennials, are making employment decisions based on the corporate responsibility efforts of a company. And shareholders, too, now consider the environmental and social impact of their portfolios. It’s not surprising then that 62 percent of executives consider a sustainability strategy as essential in order to be competitive.

Sustainable solutions for a sustainable future

If you want explore sustainability for your operations, IBM is ready to help. With open, AI-powered solutions and platforms, and deep industry expertise, we can partner with you to create a more sustainable infrastructure and operations:

  • Explore how market-leading IBM Maximo Applications Suite delivers greater sustainability through intelligent asset management, monitoring, predictive maintenance, computer vision, safety and reliability, all in a single platform.
  • See how you can design a sustainable, safe and flexible workplace and drive greater operational efficiency in your facilities with IBM TRIRIGA.
  • Discover how the IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite can reduce weather-related disruption to your business with advanced analytics and intelligent workflows. See how you can reimagine processes and better predict how weather will impact your assets, employees and customers.

IBM: more resources for your sustainability journey

Read more on the topic of sustainability and the role of technology in helping companies reduce their impact on the planet. Reports include Sustainability as a business strategy and The rise of the sustainable enterprise.

You can also learn more about IBM sustainability solutions, and read the other blogs in our enterprise sustainability series:

Join us at Think 2021 for more on sustainability

Think 2021 is IBM’s online-only, free conference. Register then use this guide to find sessions like these two events focused on IBM’s commitment to the environment, as well as a conversation on the big trends and directions:

CUBE Interview with Kareem Yusuf, PhD, IBM General Manager and Wayne S. Balta, IBM Chief Sustainability Officer. Tune in to this interview to learn more about IBM’s history of commitment to the environment, our vision for a more sustainable future, and how we’ll help clients achieve their sustainability goals.

Trends & Directions: Empowering a resilient, sustainable future: Sustainability is a business imperative. Climate change, dwindling natural resources, and other hazards are disrupting business in unexpected ways, compelling organizations to transform the way they operate. Join us to learn how to tackle the most important challenges to your business with AI-powered solutions, intelligent automated workflows and open platforms to accelerate your journey to a resilient, sustainable future.