The Energy Efficiency Era

By Kate
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A few weeks ago the European Union voted to phase out incandescent light bulbs entirely by 2012. The United States, Australia and Cuba are launching similar plans. If your household is anything like mine, you’ve already begun implementing a personal incandescent bulb phase-out plan, replacing your ‘last century lights’ with LED and other alternatives, in addition to, of course, doing what your mother always harped on during your childhood: “Turn off the lights!”

If you’re wondering what impact the new EU regulation will make, check out the energy-savings examples communicated in the Europa press release:

By enforcing the regulation of switching to energy saving bulbs, EU citizens will save close to 40 TWh (roughly the electricity consumption of Romania, or of 11 million European households, or the equivalent of the yearly output of 10 power stations of 500 megawatts) and will lead to a reduction of about 15 million tons of CO2 emission per year.

These figures demonstrate how the accumulation of people like you and me buying and using energy-efficient product innovations really can make a difference (i.e. new household lamp designs incorporating LED bulbs, like my nifty IKEA reading lamp—while the technology isn’t new, its inclusion into mainstream products is). Green PLM also plays a part.

In my last post of this series we looked at how companies are optimizing material usage in product design for a lighter environmental footprint. This in turn is linked to energy usage, because the lighter your car, the less fuel it consumes. But like our lights, products must also incorporate technologies to lighten their impact on the environment.

Now PLM doesn’t make technological innovations, people do. And sometimes we already have the right technologies but, for many different reasons, it’s difficult to get them executive-approved, produced and on the market. Take powertrains for example. Between automotive OEMs and their suppliers, the technology to increase fuel efficiency already exists. But because this knowledge is fragmented among different stakeholders dispersed around the globe and resides in various software systems, it’s quite difficult to get a holistic view of how this technology would impact pre-existing manufacturing infrastructures and other connected elements. So it’s tough to understand the full impact of switching to a different powertrain, and therefore tough to plan for this change. PLM 2.0 platforms like Dassault Systèmes’ V6 provide the digital environment to accomplish this.

What about when we haven’t yet nailed down the technology and are in the figuring-out phase? Well, why not use scientific simulation earlier in the design process? “Oh, ‘super idea’ X doesn’t get the type of results we wanted! Next!” You don’t have to waste downstream energy and time if you scientifically validate concepts early in the virtual design stage.

And when you’re working within a collaborative PLM 2.0 platform, you’re tapping into more collective brain power. Like I blogged in Design=Emotion=Day 2@ECF, “Creativity is individual, but innovation is collaborative.” It’s not some mad-scientist alone in his laboratory that’s going to help us make a difference. Together we’ll come up with solutions that we cannot dream up alone. Some people call this crowdsourcing. I call it working smart.

Do these things make PLM green? I’m not sure if this matters, because what counts are sustainable products and living. My take-away point is that PLM solutions can help companies boost innovation and develop, simulate, optimize and produce products that consume less energy.

Zooming out, I like to believe that we’re at the dawn of an energy-efficient era. I think that beyond our lights and cars, all of our everyday-living, energy-consuming products will get ‘retechnologicalized’ (if I may invent a word). What other examples can you think of? Solar-powered cell phones come to mind . . .

As an aside, I thought it’d be fun to share a product designed to help us be more mindful of our energy consumption. Check out Wattson



P.S. If you’re new to our Green PLM series, you may want to check out earlier posts:

Optimizing Materials Cuisine

By Kate
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Every great chef knows: ingredients matter. It’s a little similar in the PLM world, only we’re talking about inedible objects like airplanes, clothes and mobile phones. Substitute taste for user experience, add the environment to the health bit, et voila! Now we’re warmed up to talk about the importance of material usage in product design.

As I mentioned in the introductory post of this Green PLM series, “The European Union estimates that more than 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is determined in the product conception phase.“ That’s a high rate and why companies are investing resources at the 3D product design phase– to ensure their products are lean and green.

A big part of this involves selecting the right material to maximize structural resistance while minimizing the amount of material used. The 3D design phase is the best time to consider the following questions:

• Can I use lighter yet resistant materials?
• Can I reduce the number of parts?
• Will the materials biodegrade easily?
• Are the materials harmful to humans/the environment?
• Does the product maintain its intended structural resistance despite material change?
• (your turn to continue the list . . .)

Maarit Cruz is one of our Green PLM experts, so I took my video camera to her office to learn/share more:

One of the many sectors impacted by this is the aerospace industry. Integrating a higher percentage of composites into new aircrafts helps them to fly lighter and use less fuel, reducing emissions, noise pollution, etc. Also, because composites are ultra-light, extremely resistant materials, they can be formed into any shape, allowing for more innovative and fuel-efficient designs. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a good example.

Designed right, airplanes and other products are (kind of) like haute cuisine:

• Less material used = small portions
• Great experience design = amazing taste
• Small environmental footprint = healthy eats
• High customer demand = need to reserve ahead

In addition to aerospace, what other industry examples of product materials optimization can you think of? I know of industrial machining company Sanyo Machine Works that used PLM solutions to reduce the number of product parts by 25 percent. What about you?



P.S. If you’d like to learn more about composites and 3D virtual design, you may be interested to read about CATIA Composites Design.

Do You Comply?

By Kate
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I imagine I’d go crazy if I were a manufacturer today. There are so many regulations to follow, and with the burgeoning environmental/green standards, which can differ per country, the complexity grows. Then, when I begin to think about the various substances that are regulated, like lead, hazardous chemicals, etc., coupled with the specific industry regulations, I start feeling like I need a Business Intelligence solution to understand it all. (Breathe now.) And then, I imagine how extra-complex it must be for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers who are outsourcing their parts manufacturing around the globe, where depending on the country, the manufacturing cultures differ, and thus their awareness/compliance to the complex web of. . . directives.

Welcome to the second post in our introductory Green PLM blog series.

We can quickly get overwhelmed when we start digging into Compliance. When it comes to Green Compliance, we’re still in the early days, i.e. there’s a lot more to come. Most of the directives bubble up from Europe, and to my knowledge, so far there are no widespread, ISO-type standards.

Mike Zepp, our in-house regulatory compliance expert, used to deal directly with the type of scenario I imagined above, and now he helps Dassault Systèmes arm companies with tools to successfully navigate through the green compliance jungle. Mike was in Paris recently and kindly agreed to let me video-interview him. Here’s what Mike has to say about Compliance and the role PLM, particularly managing product-linked data throughout the lifecycle, can play to help. The real-life example he cites in the video is particularly telling:

It seems to me that using an efficient compliance assessment and impact analysis data management tool will help put some greenbacks into your Green PLM, or at least save you some. While this is only a piece of Green PLM, it’s a major one.

Stay tuned for my next Green PLM post on reducing material use in product design.



P.S. Here are some Green Compliance resources:

Examples of product recycling directives:
End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV)
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE)

Examples of banned substances directives:
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Directive
Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)

The Voice of the Customer: Process Integration and Traceability Through Requirements Management

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