Sustainable

I hope you’re not sick of “sustainable” or “green” yet, because these are more than buzzwords.

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Sustainable and green indicate a viable business and engineering strategy. The combination of years of cost reductions coupled with the rise of energy prices means that applying engineering skill and business acumen to energy cost reduction makes good sense…and cents.

When Greg Farnum researched the state of the industry for this month’s update on packaging machine automation, he discovered that people wanted to talk energy savings. In his article, "More Product, Less Current", the fruits of his labor are detailed for you. Most of these technologies are not new. They are now economically viable.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may ask what’s in it for them when the cost of the variable frequency drive might add to their cost of manufacture. I’d suggest that it is competitive advantage. Your customers are driven by corporate mandates to reduce energy costs, as well as provide chief executives the substance of “green” claims in their annual reports—something designed to enhance the image of their companies.

You notice I seem to use the terms green and sustainable somewhat interchangeably. It’s because the words are actually quite vague in practice. Green typically refers to reducing energy usage, carbon emissions, waste that will wind up in the landfill and other wasteful practices. Sustainable advocates believe in those things and more. It can also mean engineering practices and business processes that look at the long term rather than at short-term gains. Whichever, it’s still a good idea to develop sustainable engineering practices.

Gary Mintchell, Editor in Chief of Automation World, spoke recently with Bosch Rexroth Vice President of Technology Scott Hibbard about sustainable engineering and how Bosch Rexroth is providing technology and applications for alternative energy generation. To hear a podcast of the interview, please visit www.automationworld.com/podcast-4716.

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