Sustainability through process automation: a conversation with Endress+Hauser and Rockwell Automation
Sustainability has become a strategic imperative for modern industry, impacting competitiveness and long-term viability. Companies that proactively embrace sustainable practices will be better positioned to thrive in the future.
Recently, ProcessOnline sat down with Matthias Altendorf, CEO of Endress+Hauser, and Scott Wooldridge, President Asia-Pacific, Rockwell Automation, to discuss their views on industrial sustainability. The two automation industry leaders were attending the opening of the new Australian headquarters for Endress+Hauser Australia in Sydney.
What does sustainability mean to Endress+Hauser and Rockwell Automation?
Both Altendorf and Wooldridge agreed that sustainability starts with the company’s own infrastructure, as it is the element of the business that a company has most control over.
“At Endress+Hauser we have a strong focus on achieving our sustainability goals, and we are well on track to achieve our Scope 1 and Scope 2 targets,” Altendorf said. “The first way we can achieve this is by maximising the sustainability of our offices and manufacturing facilities. For example, last year we opened a new Canadian facility near Toronto that is 100% sustainable.
“Since it was founded 70 years ago, Endress+Hauser has always emphasised combining business success with social action and ecological responsibility,” he added.
Last year, Endress+Hauser again achieved the highest Platinum status in the EcoVadis sustainability benchmark, placing the company in the top percentile of the comparison group.
“At Rockwell we are committed to environmental stewardship both within our own operations and across our entire value chain,” Wooldridge said. “We support our customers throughout their ESG journey with solutions to help our customers reduce energy, waste and water usage.”
How is sustainability integrated into your companies’ business practices?
“Endress+Hauser and Rockwell Automation are two companies that have made a significant commitment to doing whatever they can within their power to improve sustainability in other areas of their business practices,” Wooldridge said.
“For example, the manufacturing of our products requires a lot of steel and aluminium,” Altendorf added. “As a first step in improving this area of our emissions, we have already started sourcing steel from the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled steel plant operated by the Swedish steelmaker SSAB.
“We are committed to expanding this further as more sustainable steel and aluminium become available.”
“We at Rockwell are committed to net zero by 2030 and our manufacturing sites are all certified to ISO 14001 and ISO 45001,” Wooldridge added.
What role does sustainability play in the industries that use process automation?
“A large part of Australia’s economy depends on heavy industry and resources, and we are a major supplier of raw materials to many parts of the world, which can make the qualification of supply chain emissions complex,” Wooldridge said. “A country may on-sell product to Europe, manufactured from Australian raw materials. This will mean that, regardless of the sustainability of the manufacturing companies involved, Australian suppliers need to be able to clearly report on the sustainability of their own production, as it affects the Scope 3 emissions of those other companies.
“Sustainability issues also vary greatly between industries,” he added. “For example, in mining, reducing energy consumption is currently the largest sustainability issue, while companies in the food and beverage industry may have good energy efficiency already but are more concerned about water and sustainable packaging.”
The process and manufacturing industries are experiencing high societal pressures in relation to ESG efforts, not just in sustainability but worker and public safety.
“The cost of electricity in Australia is now in the top 15 in the world. Currently the transition cost is very high but must be done,” Wooldridge added. “It is not a question of future profitability, but whether businesses will survive in the future, and have a social licence to operate.”
Being a European company, Endress+Hauser finds the European sustainability directives are having a strong impact on the industry.
“The directives mandate a carbon tax as an incentive not only for European companies, but now also — through a border carbon tax — for anyone exporting products to Europe,” Altendorf said. “Depending on a company’s carbon emissions, this could add a minimum of 15% to the imported cost of product.”
How are Endress+Hauser and Rockwell Automation helping their customers become more sustainable?
In order to meet sustainability goals and reporting requirements, industries need to have an accurate picture of their emissions.
“Endress+Hauser helps customers with their sustainability goals through the best possible accuracy in measurement, whether that be for energy consumption, raw materials, process efficiency or emissions,” Altendorf said.
“Advanced process control, driven by accurate instrumentation from Endress+Hauser, also helps to optimise processes for best efficiency and minimised waste,” Wooldridge said. “Rockwell Automation is providing advanced process control capabilities for a range of industries.”
“Our instrumentation products can be integrated with any control system the customer prefers, but Rockwell and Endress+Hauser’s long-term partnership means we can jointly provide well-integrated offerings to achieve a customer’s process control and sustainability goals,” Altendorf added.
Both men see companies in the automation industry as key players in helping industry become more sustainable.
“We in the automation industry have the ability to help the process industries become agents of sustainable change, making them part of the solution, not part the problem,” Altendorf commented.
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