There has been much buzz in recent years regarding the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, making it seem the world has already entered a period of advancements previously seen only on sci-fi movies. Recent advancements in this area, however, have proven that such innovations that were only imagined before have now become a reality that is available to all.
From a broader perspective, the network of Internet-connected physical devices is basically what comprises IoT. There are several advancements in this area, with a multitude of gadgets and devices coming out in the market that are Internet-enabled or Internet-connected. It is expected that the number of such devices will reach up to 30 billion by the year 2020. These are just estimates done a few years ago, but just looking at everyday life will tell you that this is a reality that is coming to fruition.
When Kevin Ashton first coined the term “Internet of Things” back in 1999, his primary intent was for IoT’s use in retail operations. Now, the concept of IoT has gone beyond mere retail applications to innovative applications for commercial and industrial use. While some industries still find IoT as mere novelty items, others are seriously looking at these advancements not only to improve their performance but also reduce energy consumption.
Now, industries can also look towards IoT devices and applications as a tool to reduce their carbon footprint and their impact on the environment. At first, such initiatives for sustainability and climate change remediation took a minimal part in their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities. Now, these companies and industries are looking at carbon footprint reduction activities as a mainstream initiative that forms a significant part of their operations and their businesses.
The Need to Reduce Carbon Footprint
We have 12 years left to stop global warming, that’s according to a report by scientists published in 2018. These findings were not taken lightly by the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and have spearheaded the initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 to 70 % lower than the emission levels back in 2010 by the year 2050. This is a lofty goal that UN had declared, hoping that the world would heed its call.
Several countries from around the world also heeded the call and participated in the Paris Agreement of 2016. Since then, more and more countries have participated and have ratified at least one climate change law on a national level. Despite this, the UN has reported that the climate targets set in Paris may be missed by a huge margin. So, people and countries need to step up their initiatives in reducing emissions and carbon footprint.
IoT can help industries execute their initiatives towards reducing their carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. In a report published by Ericsson, the use of IoT has the potential of reducing emissions by as much as 63.5 gigatons by the year 2030, should all industrial sectors participate. IoT is destined to be an enabler that will help industries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and increase their energy efficiency.
Consumers are heeding the call as well, with as much as 87% preferring to buy from companies who are environmentally and socially responsible, with 76% of these people willing to boycott companies who are not. Several companies have already taken the initiative, with the likes of Johnson & Johnson committing to source 35% of their energy needs from renewable resources. Coca-Cola is another big name committed to climate change initiatives, including its commitment to retrieve at least 75% of the bottles they circulated in the market.
How to Reduce Carbon Footprint with the Use of the Internet of Things (IoT)
Whatever industry vertical a business may be in, there are several IoT applications they can make use of to reduce their carbon footprint. In the retail industry, up to 50% of these retail companies across the globe have already adopted IoT in one way or another. As much as 80% of these early adopters have reported a significant increase in their energy and operational efficiencies, and of course, increase in profitability.
Numerous other companies are also tapping into IoT not only to improve their operational efficiencies, but they are also harnessing the power of IoT to combat climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. Your industry can likewise do the same, starting with these suggestions:
- Use IoT to Increase Energy Efficiency
Now, many companies have reported the reduction of carbon emissions and an increase in their energy efficiencies with the use of IoT. One example is the Digital Power Plant by GE which was reported to achieve up to 62.2% energy efficiency rating in their combined-cycle power plants.
Other technology giants like Cisco and Fujitsu are also developing various IoT-enabled tools and gadgets that are geared towards driving energy efficiency. These innovations were first used in the energy industry, but such technologies can also be harnessed by other industry verticals. Other names from companies around the world are also coming out with their IoT innovations that can be used by various industry verticals from across the globe.
- Use IoT to Improve Lighting Efficiency
Lighting is one area in many industries that consume a considerable amount of energy. Throughout the years, these companies have implemented measures to improve their lighting efficiency, including the use of energy-efficient lighting that has passed certification with Energy Star. Many appliances, devices, gadgets, and types of machinery have already adopted this certification as a standard to ensure the public of their commitment towards energy efficiency.
You can take efficiency way further with the use of IoT-enabled smart lighting sensors that will make lighting smarter and more responsive, automatically turning on and turning off lighting fixtures depending on the presence or absence of people. These fixtures are smart enough to detect the presence of users or can adjust the intensity of the lighting depending on the availability of natural light, or according to the time of day and outside environmental conditions.
- Use IoT to Improve Heating and Cooling Efficiency
Many industries rely on efficient heating and cooling systems to reduce their carbon footprint. There are suggestions from Energy Star on how industries can make their heating and cooling systems consume lesser amount of energy. These include the proper maintenance of air filters, air ducts, and other HVAC equipment. Efficient HVAC maintenance has already been a standard in many industries, and many government regulations will not allow installations without adherence to these standards.
The use of IoT devices like smart thermostats, smart plugs, and other smart devices can greatly reduce the consumption of energy and reduce carbon emissions. These innovations are now made available for various home and commercial applications, but they can also be used in various industrial settings, depending on the nature of the business your companies are engaged in.
- Use IoT to Switch to a Paperless Environment
Switching to a paperless environment can help greatly reduce your carbon footprint, and you can achieve this with the use of IoT devices. Traditional companies and industries make use of tons of paper for labels, receipts, marketing materials, and other day-to-day documents. Continued reliance on paper-based materials can create a lot of clutter and environmental impact if their use is continued.
There are many IoT devices that can be used as energy-efficient alternatives for paper. One such innovative method is with the use of Electronic Shelf Labels or ESL. These technological advancements have revolutionized the way industries label containers, products, and storage units by replacing traditional paper with an interactive LED screen. These ESL solutions not only feature smart item displays, they also feature interactive buttons that can be used for marketing and sales promotion purposes.
- Use IoT to Implement Automated or Self Check-Out
Queues and long lines are inconveniences that most retail consumers can’t stand these days. This can affect their having a positive shopping experience, and could be grave enough that the consumer would not want to go back to the store. To address this, retailers can automate the check-out process with the use of IoT technologies.
These technologies will allow customers to put their purchased items in their bags, pay for these goods electronically through a mobile payment app, allowing them to walk away from the store. These are made possible with the use of IoT technologies like mobile POS (Point Of Sale) terminals, IoT-enabled cameras to replace the cashiers, and Electronic Shelf Labels to facilitate zero packagings and implement self-checkout.
Early adopters like Zara, Zippin, and Amazon Go have reported greater efficiency with the use of these IoT enabled self-checkout systems, automating the buying and checkout process, and reducing their staff requirements by as much as 75%. There are other top brands and companies from other industry verticals that have started to implement similar systems, all geared towards making their operations more sustainable, energy-efficient, and a reduced carbon footprint.
- Use IoT to Optimize and Automate Your Supply Chain
Industries can automate their supply chain management network with the use of IoT technologies. Using these devices in their warehouses and stores, they can track inventories in real-time, monitor sales opportunities, and organize their layouts much more efficiently. Technologies like Electronic Shelf Labels provide automated and real-time price label updates, stock alerts, and LBS (Location Based Service) inventory management.
The Take Away
Reducing your carbon footprint by going green and adhering to environmental-friendly practices is not a short-term fad that is popular to the public now, but would die out in the long run. The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint is a must that most businesses and industries are should adhere to in the long run.
An integral part of these is with the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that have revolutionized the ways people and industries do things that will not only make their operations energy efficient, but would reduce carbon footprint as well. All these will translate to the continuous and sustainable success of your business – helping you to finally achieve your ultimate business goals.
Are you planning to make your industrial facility more efficient and sustainable for the environment? If so, take the first step by integrating the fastest and most durable ESLs by SOLUM. Visit our website today at www.solumesl.com to learn more.