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How Integrators Can Support Sustainability

The strong link between system integrators and UN initiatives for sustainability represents not only a responsibility for integrators, but a strong motivation to grow their impact in these areas.

Luigi De Bernardini

In my previous article, I noted several sustainable development goals (SDG) a system integration business should be aligned with. Now I’d like to dig deeper into a few of the key goals that can be strongly related to traditional system integrators activities or impacted by them. Those goals are:

  • SDG2—Zero hunger
  • SDG6Clean water and sanitation
  • SDG7Affordable and clean energy
  • SDG11Sustainable cities and communities

Zero hunger

My company has been working in the food & beverage industry for more than 25 years, and I always thought we were doing something more besides writing good PLC, SCADA, or MES code. I thought we had an impact and were helping our customers make their products more affordable, safer, and more available to consumers. Optimizing the efficiency of production lines, guaranteeing the correct usage and execution of recipes, and providing full ingredient traceability and genealogy are vital to making food production more replicable, reducing scraps, and reducing costs and prices. The automation and replicability of food production allow to an increase of food production volumes and to build plants closer to the demand (especially in poor regions), to serve affordable food to communities that otherwise would struggle to find it, or to fast-growing population areas.

Clean water and sanitation

Water and wastewater automation and SCADA projects have always been among the most important system integration businesses. Here, it’s easier than in food & beverage to understand what impact system integrators can have in making clean water available in any area of the world, especially in developing regions. Optimizing wastewater treatment plants, reducing their energy consumption, and introducing “smart” technologies can make the difference in making water available or improving sanitary conditions in places where the lack of one or both is impacting the quality of life or its duration expectation. 

Affordable and clean energy

The impact of a system integrator’s work is changing significantly in this area with the diffusion of renewable energies. Application of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, to solar or wind energy production helps to increase the efficiency of those technologies, optimize their usage, and make adoption investment more affordable, thereby increasing adoption with a positive impact on climate.

Sustainable cities and communities

This area is new for many traditional system integrators. But this area needs experienced integration expertise to support the adoption and use of technologies like the Internet of Things, Big Data, machine learning, smart devices, and artificial intelligence.

Sustainability has different interpretations depending on the environment you apply it. System integrators can contribute significantly to the growth of solutions and adoption of technologies that are fundamental to the achievement of UN initiatives for sustainability. In my opinion, knowing that system integrators have such a strong link to these initiatives is not only a responsibility but a strong motivation to grow our impact.

Luigi De Bernardini is CEO at Autoware, and President of Autoware Digital, certified members of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about Autoware, visit its profile on the Industrial Automation Exchange. 

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