Discussing Sustainability with PTC

The following post was first written by PLM Green co-founder Jos Voskuil where it  appeared in his European PLM Weblog in December 2022.


We are excited to close the year with the first round of the PLM Global Green Alliance (PGGA) series of interviews and panel discussions about PLM and Sustainability.

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Climate Change Chronicles December 2022

This month’s Climate Change Chronicles from the PLM Green Global Alliance provides a quick-to-scan summary of news from around the world during December 2022 about the changing climate and its impact on people and the planet.

Our good news question of the month: what laboratory announced a breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy? Read on to find out and learn what else might have been missed in your own news feeds.

For news about the use of PLM-enabling technologies in creating a more sustainable, low carbon, circular economy, subscribe to the PLM & Sustainability Newsletter then join our PLM Green LinkedIn Group.

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PLM and Sustainability December 2022

Welcome to the latest edition of PLM & Sustainability, a news digest from the PLM Green Global Alliance exploring the role of Product Lifecycle Management business strategies and enabling technologies in transitioning to a sustainable, low-carbon, circular economy. In this issue you will find:

  • Looking Back at the Year 2022
  • PLM Green News Roundup
  • References on PLM and Sustainability
  • Industry and Solution Provider News Roundup
  • More About the PLM Green Initiative
  • A Holiday Wish for a Green New Year

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Climate Change News Digest November 2022

The latest Climate Change news digest, prepared for followers of the PLM Green Global Alliance, summarizes the most substantial news from around the world during the month of November 2022 about the changing climate and progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This month’s good news question: what US state announced a ban on the use of fossil fuel plants to power crypto-mining operations? Read on to find out.

For more positive news about the use of PLM-enabling technologies in creating a more sustainable, lower carbon, circular economy, subscribe to the PLM & Sustainability Newsletter then join our PLM Green LinkedIn Group.

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PLM & Sustainability Oct. 2022

Welcome to the latest edition of PLM & Sustainability, a news digest from the PLM Green Global Alliance chronicling the role of Product Lifecycle Management enabling technologies in helping companies and industries transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon circular economy. In this newsletter you will find a compilation of recent news about PLM Green, solution providers, industry references, people and jobs that is fast to scan for what might have been missed in your own feeds.

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Siemens Engineer Innovation for a Sustainable World

(May, 2022) PLM solution provider Siemens Digital Industries Software announces a new edition of Engineer Innovation focused exclusively on sustainability with the publication of “Engineer Innovation for a Sustainable World.” The authors write:

“Our civilization is quite literally built on oil, coal, and gas. Since the Industrial Revolution humans have become entirely dependent on a cheap and plentiful supply of fossil fuels.”

Image Credit Siemens Digital Industries Software

“They feed us, light our evenings, fuel our movements, keep us warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and provide endless piles of disposable “things” that we use every day. In the past 250 years, we have released over 1.5 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (and oceans). During 2021, atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached a record-level increase of 50% relative to pre-industrial CO2 levels.

“In the next years to come, we certainly are going to have to engineer a future without fossil fuels. That transition is the biggest engineering challenge that we have ever faced and will only be possible through the use of simulation and test.”

Learn more by downloading the e-book directly from Siemens HERE.

Sustainability Focused PLM From DeSL

In this new white paper on the role of PLM in creating a more sustainable retail and apparel industry, the digital transformation Fashion PLM experts at DeSL write that sustainability is no loner an option because:

“The bitter truth about the fashion industry is that it is one of world’s most significant
contributors to carbon emissions and waste. Analysts have estimated that the global
fashion industry emits more carbon than the combined economies of France, Germany,
and UK [McKinsey]. Valued at close to 3 trillion dollars, the textile and garment industries represent an immense global system [Fashion United]. And with the booming growth, draws greater attention to the negative impacts it is responsible for.”

Image Credit DeSL

“When examining the challenges that fashion companies must face today, we cannot
separate the joint requirements for sustainable products and ethically produced
products. Both areas must be addressed simultaneously to minimize the negative
impact on our climate and environment while protecting the rights and safety of
those people involved in producing the products. A common method of representing
these ideas is using ESG or environmental, social, and governance criteria.”

Learn more how PLM solutions for the retail and apparel industry can contribute to sustainability by downloading directly from DeSL the white paper “Sustainability – The Future of Fashion.”

Decarbonizing the Atmosphere Opportunities and Cautions

“Decarbonizing the Atmosphere: Opportunities and Cautions” is a comprehensive article written for engineering professionals in the Spring 2022 issue of The Bent magazine from the Tau Beta Pi engineering professional society.

The article summarizes the massive scope of the technical challenge to stop emitting new greenhouse gasses, like C02 and methane, into the atmosphere, and the likelihood we will have to remove and sequester what we have already emitted.

The article may be downloaded at https://www.tbp.org/pubs/Features/Sp22Bell.pdf.

IPCC 6th Report Climate Change 2022

The IPCC has released the second part of the Sixth Assessment Report, “Climate Change 2022ImpactsAdaptation and Vulnerability” during the 12th Session of Working Group II and 55th Session of the IPCC.

A summary of important policy statements extracted from the report include the following:

“Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people, beyond natural climate variability. Some development and adaptation efforts have reduced vulnerability. Across sectors and regions the most vulnerable people and systems are observed to be disproportionately affected. The rise in weather and climate extremes has led to some irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt (high confidence).

Vulnerability of ecosystems and people to climate change differs substantially among and within regions (very high confidence), driven by patterns of intersecting socio-economic development, unsustainable ocean and land use, inequity, marginalization, historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism, and governance (high confidence). Approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change (high confidence). A high proportion of species is vulnerable to climate change (high confidence). Human and ecosystem vulnerability are interdependent (high confidence). Current unsustainable development patterns are increasing exposure of ecosystems and people to climate hazards (high confidence).

Global warming, reaching 1.5°C in the near-term, would cause unavoidable increases in multiple climate hazards and present multiple risks to ecosystems and humans (very high confidence). The level of risk will depend on concurrent near-term trends in vulnerability, exposure, level of socioeconomic development and adaptation (high confidence). Near-term actions that limit global warming to close to 1.5°C would substantially reduce projected losses and damages related to climate change in human systems and ecosystems, compared to higher warming levels, but cannot eliminate them all (very high confidence).

Beyond 2040 and depending on the level of global warming, climate change will lead to numerous risks to natural and human systems (high confidence). For 127 identified key risks, assessed mid- and long- term impacts are up to multiple times higher than currently observed (high confidence). The magnitude and rate of climate change and associated risks depend strongly on near-term mitigation and adaptation actions, and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages escalate with every increment of global warming (very high confidence).

Climate change impacts and risks are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to manage. Multiple climate hazards will occur simultaneously, and multiple climatic and non-climatic risks will interact, resulting in compounding overall risk and risks cascading across sectors and regions. Some responses to climate change result in new impacts and risks (high confidence).

If global warming transiently exceeds 1.5°C in the coming decades or later (overshoot), then many human and natural systems will face additional severe risks, compared to remaining below 1.5°C (high confidence). Depending on the magnitude and duration of overshoot, some impacts will cause release of additional greenhouse gases (medium confidence) and some will be irreversible, even if global warming is reduced (high confidence).”

The full report may be downloaded from the IPCC website HERE.

The Balancing Act of Sustainability from Digital Engineering

The January / February 2022 issue of Digital Engineering is a theme issue focused on the contributions of digital engineering technologies, like PLM and CAE, to addressing sustainability and climate change.

In the article “The Balancing Act of Sustainability” the author Tom Kevan writes about the role of PLM in sustainability:

“The key to understanding and mitigating a product’s environmental impact lies in data from the full product lifecycle. Unfortunately, traditional PLM systems are less able to serve as the single source of truth. For example, when looking at the increase in front-end data, these software platforms often fall short of companies’ aspirations to bring together all required data points. Most legacy PLM systems are just not built to effectively handle today’s volumes of data.

This situation, however, seems to be changing. PLM software vendors have started taking the necessary steps required to close the data gap. The latest generation of advanced PLM platforms is proving to be more capable of facilitating product optimization across dimensions such as user experience; ease of manufacturing; maintainability; and environmental, social and governance performance.”

This article and others on the role of PLM-enabling technologies in creating a more sustainable economy can be read at https://www.digitalengineering247.com/download/digital-engineering-january-february-2022.

Digital Technologies and the Environment from Diplo

A discussion on “Digital Technologies and the Environment: A Synergy for the Future” was held on February 17, 2022 that was promoted by the NGO event organizer Diplo, as:

“Digital technologies can amplify efforts to mitigate climate change and, as such, are becoming part of environmental and digital policies on the national and international levels. Most global policies from international bodies, the EU, the USA, and Germany substantially reflect on the issues related to the nexus of environmental and digital developments. In this discussion, we will look into current developments in the relevant fora, such as the US-EU Trade and Technology Council, and consider the possibilities to deepen cooperation and understanding between the USA, the EU, and Germany on issues related to environment and digital developments.”

Image Courtesy of Diplo at https://www.diplomacy.edu/

The presentation may be viewed at https://www.diplomacy.edu/event/digital-technologies-and-the-environment-a-synergy-for-the-future/.

A written report was also available that explores the application of digital technologies to address issues of greenhouse gas emissions, rare earths, and e-waste.

“Digital technologies in general collect, process, and analyze large quantities of data to identify issues and possible solutions, provide modelling of future developments, streamline processes, making them less resource dependent – whether on natural resources, human efforts, or finances. Some of the digital technologies are already widely implemented in environmental protection. This is the case in big data analysis and use of artificial intelligence to find sustainable solutions for environmental issues, use of augmented and virtual reality for modelling and education, IoT for smart cities, smart grids, and in traffic regulation. Additionally, decades of experience in space technology are now used in the renewable energy sector. Others, like blockchain, nanotechnology or quantum computing are just starting to be studied on their possible implementation in environmental protection.”

The report can also be downloaded at https://www.diplomacy.edu/event/digital-technologies-and-the-environment-a-synergy-for-the-future/.

Did Engineers Cause the Climate Crisis?

In this provocative article from Digital Engineering “Engineers Caused the Climate Emergency – Only We Can Save the World From It” the author Stephen Ferguson writes:

“If we are going to avoid, or even mitigate, the devastating effects of anthropological climate change, then, in the next twenty to thirty years, we’re going to have to almost completely wean ourselves off our reliance on fossil fuels. That means reducing 51 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero while providing an acceptable standard of living for 10 billion people. This is the greatest engineering challenge that our species has ever faced and essentially means re-solving every difficult engineering problem that we have overcome in the 250 years since the Industrial Revolution.”

“In the title of this article, I blamed engineers for the climate emergency. After all, Savery, Newcomen and Watt’s inventions unintentionally prised the lid off of the Pandora’s Box of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a deliberately provocative (and rather trite) argument. The Industrial Revolution (like the Neolithic Revolution before it) was an inevitable consequence of human population growth and would have happened eventually, irrespective of the individuals involved.  Like most modern engineers, like you and I, they were just trying to improve the world that they lived in.”

Read the full article HERE as well as other articles about the Jan/Feb 2022 sustainability focused theme issue of Digital Engineering.

The Intersection of PLM and Sustainability


First, A Few Misconceptions about PLM and Sustainability

After writing my recent post The Road to Model-Based and Connected PLM, the topic that emerged to interest me the most is the contribution that “Real Product Lifecycle Management” can have to global sustainability. But first, allow me to address two widely held misconceptions about PLM and Sustainability.

For myself, as well as most PLM consultants and market analysts, real PLM is a business strategy that envelops the whole product lifecycle through requirements, ideation, development, manufacturing, logistics, quality, usage, service, and even decommissioning. So I use the term “real PLM”, to refute the common misconception that PLM is an engineering technology, software product, or enterprise IT system.

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Achieving Sustainable Manufacturing Through PLM and CLM

Sustainability in manufacturing is a hot topic. Customers, shareholders and regulatory agencies are increasingly demanding manufacturing companies provide sustainable, carbon-neutral options for the products they design, manufacture, sell, and service.

For many of these companies, most of the tools they need to do this are already available in their enterprise tech stack. These solutions include PLM and CLM. But how and where should they begin?

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Science Based Targets Initiative

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) drives ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling companies to set science-based emissions reduction. Science-based targets provide companies with a clearly-defined path to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

The PLM Green Global Alliance recommends the SBTi website at https://sciencebasedtargets.org/ as an excellent resource for companies that wish to demonstrate leadership in their industry by moving toward a net-zero carbon emissions economy. We celebrate the more than 1,000 businesses around the world that have already done so.

IPCC 6th Assessment Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports about the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place.

In the IPCC 6th Assessment on Climate Change, “the thirteen chapters of the Working Group I report on “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis” have just been published and provide an assessment of the current evidence on the physical science of climate change, knowledge evaluation gained from observations, reanalyses, paleoclimate archives and climate model simulations, as well as physical, chemical and biological climate processes.”

“The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) provides a high-level summary of the understanding of the current state of the climate, including how it is changing and the role of human influence, and the state of knowledge about possible climate futures, climate information relevant to regions and sectors, and limiting human-induced climate change.”

The full AR6 WG Report on “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis” may be downloaded from the IPCC website HERE.

Climate Change News Digest July 2021

Climate Change Digest good news question of the month: Along what country’s coast is the world’s largest tidal energy turbine being installed? Read on to find the answer in the latest Climate Change News Digest prepared for followers of the PLM Green Global Alliance.

The previous month of June 2021 had now been deemed to be the hottest June on record for the United States. Numerous all-time records for any month and date were set at several locations. Temperatures were an astonishing 4.2 degrees F above their 20th century average.

The extreme temperatures in the Pacific Northwest of the US last month were so far off the charts that scientists suggested global warming may be triggering non-linear climate responses. An estimated 800 people died as a result of the heat that reached as high as 121 degrees F in Lytton, Canada.

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The Role of PLM in Slowing Climate Change – Part 1

This new series of posts by Klaus Brettschneider and Richard McFall, contributing members of the PLM Green Global Alliance (PGGA), will explore how Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) can be used to slow climate change by reducing human-generated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide and methane are the two most damaging GHG which are commonly reported on as CO2 equivalents, or CO2e, and are measured in billions of tons or gigatons. Carbon continues to build in the atmosphere due to human activities on the ground where it has now surpassed 410 ppm, nearly double that prior to the start of the industrial age. Since CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, a consensus is urgently building among climate scientists, elected officials, and NGOs like the International Energy Agency that the global economy must attain net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. This starts with a very challenging reduction of 50% by 2030, less than ten years away.

Image credit of NOAA at https://research.noaa.gov/

We begin our series by outlining the different roles and use cases that PLM can have in minimizing the carbon footprint – or “decarbonizing” – products, businesses, industries, and even entire economies. But first a brief level set on what PLM is and is not.

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Climate Change News Digest June 2021

Climate Change Digest good news question of the month: What European country announced a technology breakthrough in producing reduced-carbon iron? Read on to find the answer in this month’s Climate Change News Digest prepared for followers of the PLM Green Global Alliance.

NOAA reported that in May the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded the highest levels of CO2 in the atmosphere at 419 parts per million.  CO2 levels have now surpassed a staggering 50% higher level than in pre-industrial times. The drop in emissions last year due to the pandemic and a near worldwide shutdown of travel and industry was short lived having fallen only about 6%. It is sober testimony to how difficult it will be to slow GHG emissions with a growing population and roaring economy based on the ethos of perpetual consumption and growth.  Humans put about 50 billion metric tons of CO2 into the air each year that will last in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. There is little time left to meet 2030 GHG emission goals, and now may be the time to panic if that is what it takes to incite action.

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