The factory of the future will be green or not at all.
Even today, and to a greater degree tomorrow, environmental performance is inextricably tied to the purest form of performance. When it comes to factories and industrial machinery, this means:
- Optimum use of natural resources (allocating energy to a "utilitarian" purpose and keeping emissions to a minimum)
- Restricting CO2 emissions and pollutants
- Reducing material loss and waste volumes.
And coupled with the flexibility factor, the factory (built to last 30 years!) and the machinery in it will have to be able to accommodate the goals of energy transition. Equipment and systems need to switch to new fuels like gas, lean process gas, alternative fuels like waste products and biomass, etc.
Industry, including in emerging economies, is increasingly making room for these essential factors.
Eco-design is becoming the mainstream approach to developing highly energy-efficient machines that offer industrial and environmental performance.
We are slowly but surely paving the way to combinatorial processes such as energy recovery and in-process or off-plant recycling and making a case for improving how factories fit into their environment along with new circular economies that might include cities where one person's waste becomes another one's resources.