A Peek Inside aPriori’s Sustainability Solution
What’s the goal of aPriori’s new sustainability tool? Make it easy for customers to quickly and easily calculate the sustainability of a design. It’s easy to understand how certain elements of your design will affect its sustainability. But up until now, it’s been nearly impossible to easily calculate the carbon impact of your product.
With aPriori, the sustainability of your design isn’t just limited to a weak calculator. Your digital factory quickly and accurately calculates sustainability in materials, manufacturing, cycle times, and much more. Not to mention, all these calculations happen quietly in the background for real-time analysis as you design your products.
Learn more about aPriori’s sustainability solution in this short video.
aPriori’s Sustainability Solution Calculates the Real-World Environmental Impact of Products
LA: I’m here with Daniel Patterson, one of the applications engineers working on aPriori’s sustainability solution. He’s going to tell us how making sustainable products is becoming easier for stakeholders up and down the value chain with the decision-making tools that are now embedded in aPriori’s Manufacturing Insights platform. Daniel, what problem are you trying to solve with this new technology?
DP: The problem we are trying to solve is basically sustainability management in manufacturing — calculating the carbon emissions of a design before the product is made so that the product design team can optimize the design to meet their sustainability goals.
We already give designers metrics to understand the cost and manufacturability implications of their designs. Now we’re layering in sustainable development, so that designers can also understand the environmental impact of their decision-making in real-time.
The carbon footprint of a product is made up of materials you choose, the manufacturing processes you use, your sourcing strategy, and whether your energy comes from renewables. Companies always knew this, but they had a hard time quantifying the sustainability performance of their products. With this new sustainability solution in aPriori, they now have the data they need to fulfill their ESG initiatives, whether that’s getting to net-zero, or becoming a more sustainable business.
LA: For companies on a sustainability journey, there have been carbon calculators before, but none of these had the data management capabilities to calculate carbon footprint from the geometric properties of a design like aPriori does.
DP: Exactly. We use our robust bottoms-up calculation around cycle time and material utilization to drive the calculations on carbon emissions. All this sustainability data analysis happens seamlessly in the background, so you don’t have to go run a set of calculations for cost, and a separate set of calculations for manufacturability, and then one on sustainability performance. They all happen together in parallel. And all the stakeholders can see the information on the same dashboard.
The Data Management for ESG Reporting is Standard
LA: ESG reporting has its own specific demands for data management. What did you need to bake into the solution to make sure companies could prove their sustainability performance?
DP: We’ve built out new UIs to support the carbon footprint calculations, and the dashboards reflect that. But we’ve also added had to understand the energy mix of machines a lot better. At the process level, we’ve always understood the cycle time. But now we’ve done the process mapping to understand how much energy that machine uses throughout the entire operation. It’s really precise to understand the amount of energy (renewable or not) that a machine uses and then therefore the amount of CO2 that machine represents.
LA: That’s really different from other sustainability calculators that might just look at your raw materials consumed, but aren’t really looking at the whole manufacturing ecosystem — how the materials move through the factory and how much waste that produces and how that impacts the product’s sustainability performance in real-time.
DP: Yes, absolutely. aPrioroi’s sustainability solution is extremely precise in these calculations. It can be tailored to each specific facility. So, if there’s renewable power — solar power or wind power at that facility, you can re-calculate the environmental impact in seconds and understand the differences.
LA: What type of early feedback have you been hearing from customers who are using this sustainability solution?
DP: I think it’s really eye-opening to look at a design and understand the true CO2 impact. In a lot of cases they thought, “Machining is going to be a lower CO2 impact.” But they did not understanding the full life cycle of where that material was coming from and all that goes in to the processing.
Lowering Emissions Takes Real-Time Metrics
LA: I imagine that given the increasing demand for corporate sustainability, companies are going to be more and more interested in a sustainability solution that can give them real-time metrics to track their environmental impact. Because regulations for ESG reporting are on the way. And if you don’t have a sustainability strategy, you’re going to have a sustainable future.
DP: Absolutely. What we were seeing in Europe, five or six years ago in terms of ESG reporting, that’s now coming over to the US. And we’re seeing a lot of suppliers having to respond to their OEMs with metrics for sustainability on their quote forums. So, if you have a let’s say an automotive company that’s manufacturing a vehicle, they’re going out to their suppliers and they’re requesting not only a quote, but also a quote around the carbon impact. And that’s actually in the US as well, not just in Europe. So there’s a demand for sustainable business models coming from the top down. It’s independent of regulations in the United States. There’s now that expectation within the supply chain that when you’re responding to a quote, you’re going to respond with the carbon footprint of the product you’re manufacturing.
LA: If you don’t have this capability for ESG reporting now, you’re going to need it coming around the corner very soon.
DP: Exactly. And you need to change your design process to understand the environmental impact at each stage of the decision-making. Get sustainability performance into your designs as you’re designing them, instead of having to go back and redesign the product to take out carbon.
LA: So, if a company already has aPriori installed, how much will they need to change their process to add the sustainability solution?
DP: Nothing will have to change. Those sustainability calculations will run in parallel, and the environmental impact will be reportable on the dashboards. So let’s say you had 10,000 existing parts that you had costed in aPriori. You could just recost those parts and get a sustainability performance report on those. And you can understand where you are in regards to your sustainability targets, not only at the part level, but also at the assembly and product level.
LA: Well, this is very exciting – profitability and sustainability in one solution. Thank you.
DP: Thank you.