Urgent times call for effective measures

Urgent times call for effective measures

Ireneusz Borowski, Country Manager Poland, Dassault Systèmes

To preserve life as we know it, we have less than 10 years to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, requiring that we radically change the way we consume and produce just about everything.

We hear a lot about the role technology will play in accelerating the sustainability transformation. I believe that virtual twin experiences, in particular, will play a central role.

These powerful, sophisticated, science-based computer models and simulations allow companies to imagine, design, test and manufacture radically new materials, products and services for tomorrow’s sustainable economy. Virtual twins  have been used for nearly two decades to create our cars, airplanes, consumer goods, electronics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, ships, satellites, clothes – almost anything one can think of. They have saved companies massive amounts of time and money, facilitated innovation and raised quality.

Virtual twins’ sustainability value

To quantify the potential, we asked Accenture to investigate the benefits of applying virtual twin technology to sustainability efforts. The report “The critical role of virtual twins
in accelerating sustainability
”, prepared by Dassault Systèmes and Accenture, indicates that in order to achieve compliance with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, a complete transformation of the ways in which products and services are managed throughout the product lifecycle – from design to use to end-of-life – will be required. To do this, we must find new ways of working together to create circular economies, drive competitiveness and responsible growth opportunities and collectively ensure that technological revolutions deliver on their promise of enhanced sustainability.

The report points to the potential of virtual twin technology, with the global market reaching an estimated US$5.4 billion in 2020 and projected to grow at a 36% CAGR over the next five years. Virtual twin technology is helping to drive the transformation towards a circular economy – enabling companies to reduce costs, resource consumption and water footprint, while fostering innovation. Given the projected growth in the use of virtual twins over the next few years, the technology can be expected to play a significant role in the industry’s transformation towards sustainability.

How does it work in practice?Here’re just two examples from CPGR and H&L industries:

In January 2022 Dassault Systèmes, Ardagh Group and EXXERGY began ‘virtual twin’ trials on Diageo’s iconic Johnnie Walker bottle. The aim is to research and develop a coating that will enable the glass bottle to be lightweighted without compromising its strength and shape. The virtual trial will pioneer science-based sustainable innovations to reduce the time and cost needed to test glass products, whilst also reducing the raw materials and energy used in the process.

Another example comes from a fashion industry: AMF, accessories supplier, uses the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to deliver transparency across the product lifecycle, and facilitate closer collaboration between designers and engineers. By replacing the most polluted steps in its production processes with circular alternatives, AMF could reuse more than 97% of water in its closed-circuit system.

How to assess products’ environmental impact?

With growing environmental concerns and sustainability requirements, progress towards net-zero is underway – but more can be done, faster. To accelerate sustainable innovation, companies can start by implementing eco-design principles.

A product or service’s design determines 80% of its environmental impact throughout the lifecycle. When companies integrate eco-design into their product and service development, they can weave sustainability into the entire value network and drive a circular economy.

Advanced solutions, such as Lifecycle Assessment (LCA), allow users to assess the impact of a product on all environmental aspects throughout its life cycle. These solutions are based on external databases, developed by independent organisations such as the ecoinvent database, which quantify the environmental impact of virtually all company decisions and activities. It is now possible to link these databases to the process of product development, validation and preparation for manufacturing, a process that integrates life cycle assessment calculations on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform from Dassault Systèmes. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform manages all the data and integrates the areas of design, simulation, production preparation and production itself. These solutions enable all actors involved to calculate and report on the impact of their activities, allowing the identification of environmentally optimal alternatives. By measuring these parameters, it is possible to instantly identify areas that violate sustainability principles and thus plan strategies to improve them.

Embedding LCA within the virtual twin — as Dassault Systèmes’ Sustainable Innovation Intelligence solution does – introduces a host of new possibilities for a net-zero economy. LCA as part of virtual twin technology makes environmental assessments available from as early as the ideation stage, and then to every member of the innovation process downstream. The solution integrates material supply, design, manufacturing, logistics, sales, marketing and end-of-life management, providing real-time visibility into these processes, allowing teams to identify issues or implement improvements at an early stage, even before physical action is taken.

With breakthroughs like these, the link between virtual twin experiences and sustainability should have been clear all along. However, in the past, product designers and sustainability experts have rarely exchanged best practices on a regular basis. So it was about time that someone recognized the synergies of their experience to make use of it in the future.

Last Updated on May 15, 2023 by Anastazja Lach