The lever to a climate-friendly future lies in comprehensive electrification and digitization. On the road to a sustainable economy, the innovative automation industry has an important role to play. Digital transformation in automation provides the basis for greater resilience, flexibility and sustainability in production. In the past, the ZVEI Automation Division has shown impressive examples of how this path is to be taken. Major CO2 savings have been achieved, for example, with developments in the DC-INDUSTRIE direct current research project and the digital nameplate.
Already since 2016, more than 40 partners have been working in the DC-INDUSTRIE research project to develop a direct current infrastructure in industry. Direct current offers the advantage that it can efficiently integrate renewable energies, such as photovoltaics, and ensures a secure and stable power supply. At the same time, a direct current supply reduces conversion losses. In model plants, energy savings of up to 10 percent and a 55 percent reduction in the amount of copper needed for cables have been achieved.
Another long-standing project is the Digital Nameplate, which ZVEI has been working on together with Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg since 2018. With the help of a QR code, all of a product's information can be accessed electronically throughout and no longer requires physical storage. This means a massive saving in resources; in the future, for example, manuals or instruction leaflets will no longer have to be printed, packaged and shipped for each product. Since industrial companies usually receive hundreds of product parts of the same type, millions of tons of paper can be saved in this way.
The trade association's latest project is a showcase to determine the carbon footprint of a control cabinet. For a product, 91 percent of the CO2 emissions in the supply chain are due to materials, transportation and processing, and only 9 percent at the manufacturer through energy or direct emissions. Of course, the production location also has an influence on the CO2 values of a component - do renewable energies or even nuclear power have a high share in the energy mix or is the focus still on coal-fired power? If values are known across the entire supply chain, effective measures can be taken to reduce CO2. If the concept proves successful, this can be transferred to other fields of application, such as cars.