Digital Transformation: Intelligent Assets Help Achieve Net-Zero Emissions

March 1, 2021

Why Digital Transformation?

I’ve been thinking about the purpose of Digital Transformation a lot lately. It’s such a broad topic and here at ClearBlade our software is at the center of digital transformation for many companies. But to what end? Of course there are real quantifiable business reasons for digital transformation – operational efficiency, improved safety, customer transparency, improved bottom line profits, etc. but I’m seeing a theme across all companies that is a much more global mission – the reduction of carbon footprints towards the ultimate goal of Net Zero Emissions. Our planet is in crisis, a crisis of our own making, and we all must be focused on this ultimate end game for betterment of our planet and our species.

So as I think about what ClearBlade’s role in all of this is I come back to Digital Transformation. When I look at the digital transformation initiatives of companies like Sumitomo, Pepsico, Google, and Canadian National, all very different businesses, I see one common theme – the pursuit of Net 0 Emissions by 2050 or earlier. All of these companies are working for the greater good of humanity and working towards alignment with the Paris Agreement on climate change. Now THAT global mission is one ClearBlade can get behind and gives a greater meaning to our software over the more atomic focuses of increased operational efficiency, improved safety, and greater customer transparency.

What are Intelligent Assets?

Intelligent Assets are any assets that a business owns that they want to track and monitor digitally. With the advancement of sensor, battery, gateway, and software technology the price point of tracking assets is dropping to enable businesses to include more assets. This means the price point per asset is dropping to include non-powered assets along with powered assets  that were not considered viable only a year or two ago. In addition Intelligent Assets software has advanced sufficiently to enable businesses to include any asset in the business without the need for development resources – business and operations people can attach assets and configure the system via simple no-code interfaces.

How do Intelligent Assets Help Achieve Net-Zero Emissions?

There are a million reasons to track and monitor assets in real-time across every business vertical – operational efficiency, worker safety, and dynamic pricing just to name a few. Obviously, businesses want to uncover every angle to improve their bottom line and while this is a driving factor in most business decisions there is a much bigger and more important theme currently sweeping the world – the drive to Net-Zero Emissions. Every major company in every sector including transportation, energy, retail, and manufacturing has a climate initiative in place to reduce and eventually eliminate their carbon emissions in alignment with the Paris Agreement. Companies like Pepsico, Google, Sumitomo, and Canadian National have recently restated their commitment to reduce their carbon footprint by pursuing aggressive goals to meet or even beat the race to Net-Zero Emissions by 2050. These initiatives are something we can ALL get behind over the next few decades to reduce and put a stop to the harmful effects our existence does to our planet.

So how do Intelligent Assets help us achieve the goals? Let’s use a few real examples from companies where we have implemented Intelligent Assets today.

At one company we are using Intelligent Assets to track shipments of sulphuric acid across rail in real-time to give them and their customers visibility as to where their orders are. Their customers are notified where their orders are and when they can expect their orders to arrive in addition to triggering alerts when their rail shipment has arrived. This use case may seem like a simple improvement in convenience when you dig deeper it has much greater significance with respect to the reduction of GHG. Instead of sending a truck out to check if a shipment has arrived and needs to be unloaded the customer is notified and only makes one trip to receive and unload the shipment. Multiply this by hundreds of customers and thousands of shipments and we can begin to see the positive impact on reduced emissions. And we are only scratching the surface on what can be done as we connect more assets like holding tanks and pumps into the equation.

At another company we are connecting thousands of consumer water heaters to provide their customers convenient “Nest like” features to control their water heaters. These features allow consumers to reduce their spend on gas and electricity by enabling them to tune their usage based around their family’s needs as well as turn off heating while on vacation. While this seems like another simple convenience feature, the positive impact to the planet becomes powerful once you add up the energy savings of several hundred thousand units over several years.

At a third company we are monitoring railroad crossings to make sure they are operating effectively. Again this may seem like a simple use case to improve public safety but as you dig deeper the real benefits of reducing CO2 emissions start to emerge. Railroad crossings must be inspected and repaired on a consistent and ongoing basis per government regulations. This means sending a worker in a truck to several crossings each day for inspection and repair. With an Intelligent Asset monitoring system in place operational personnel are notified in real-time when there’s an issue that needs to be fixed. Better yet, they can now predict when part of a crossing system is beginning to fail so they can repair it before there is an issue. Not only does this improve safety but it reduces several trips from the depot to the crossing for inspection and repair. Now multiply this across several thousand crossings across several railway networks, add in switches, and other rail infrastructure to be monitored and you begin to get the picture of how impactful Intelligent Assets are to our environment.

The more I am exposed to the ways our customers are utilizing Intelligent Assets to transform their operations, the more I understand the true impact of digital transformation and how it significantly moves the needle towards the very important goal of achieving Net-Zero emissions. Our customers are committed to reducing their carbon footprint across all of their business  areas and I am very happy that ClearBlade plays a significant role in that very important mission.

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