Being able to track CO2 emissions at each stage of the production process is essential for monitoring the environmental parameters of the industrial plant and the overall consumption of its machinery.

In our previous blog post, we described the Life Cycle Assessment process and the ways in which the new Industry 4.0 technologies increasingly facilitate total monitoring of processes and the actual costs of each product. Today, however, let’s explore, in detail, how the process takes place and how IoT technologies fit into the production cycle.

IoT Technology –  IoT and Life Cycle Assessment

This is where IoT technologies come into play: automating the data collection process is essential in order to integrate and process information from different sources.

Data extraction from production machinery, in fact, makes it possible to carry out precise analyses of the processes and to simultaneously consider multiple factors.

Let’s take a concrete example of a production process in which we have visibility of the GWP index across the entire supply chain. Deriving a complete overview of the total costs in the entire supply chain, we should not only consider the raw materials or resources used to complete the process but also all the consumption of the machines involved.

The same applies to carrying out an environmental analysis (knowing the consumption and energy used allows you to obtain a final result with a view of the entire production process).

We can reduce the production process to a black box view (Fig 2) in which raw material, energy, and man hours are considered.

Fig 2. Black box visualization of the production process

The same production process scheme can lead, in a simplified way, to an analysis of direct costs on multiple levels (Fig 3). which considers, for example, raw material, labor, and energy used for the production of the final product.

Fig 3. Black box display of the economic analysis of the production process

Finally, with the same process, we can also consider an environmental analysis and the use of the resources used (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Black box display of the environmental analysis of the production process

Once all the consumption of the machinery in your supply chain is mapped, it will be easy to process this to identify the right strategies to follow for optimizing your processes.

Conversion of consumption into kgCO2

How can we convert energy consumption expressed in kWh into kgCO2eq, being aware of the fact that the same kWh produced from renewable sources does not have the same impact as one extracted from fossil fuel sources?

For this purpose, the conversion tables, agreed upon at the national level, show the equivalent kgCO2 emission for each kWh supplied by the main electricity providers based on the energy mix of each country.

By following this scheme, throughout the supply chain, we could even certify the CO2 pollution impact of any product in real time and standardize the parameter the same way as the number of Kcal / 100g. This provides an important source of data for restructuring. processes with a view to sustainability, and also a strong commercial advantage for all those companies that are capable of certifying this indicator.

Why apply Life Cycle Assessment strategies

Applying Life Cycle Assessment techniques as product development strategies allows, over time, one to obtain excellent feedback of the surrounding environment.

Targeted and aware institutional choices would also have feedback on the topology of production processes and on the decisions of the new generations with a view to environmental and economic sustainability.

And it is precisely in this context that IoT technologies are placed, able to fit into the LCA process for the active and timely monitoring of the production processes of industrial machinery.

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About the Author: Lorenzo Loscalzo

Lorenzo Loscalzo is a mechanical engineer with a strange passion for analytics and optimization linked to the industrial world .... in short? "The data is everything".

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