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Industrial Computers for Sustainable Innovation

By ·Categories: Industrial IoT·Published On: February 10th, 2021·6.5 min read·

Industrial computers power sustainable innovation for today and tomorrow. These small form factor, power efficient, highly reliable systems are the brains behind industry, infrastructure, and innovation across the globe. The threats of climate change and natural resource depletion create opportunities for sustainable innovation that require the use of industrial PCs. 

UN Sustainability Goals and Industrial PCs

On September 25, 2015, 193 world leaders committed to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Together, these goals aim to end extreme poverty and hunger, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change, by 2030. This list of goals includes several that are only attainable with emerging technologies. 

Of these 17 development goals, there are five that relate to applications that use industrial hardware. We are proud to be working with innovators who are committed to achieve these goals: 

  • Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
  • Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure 
  • Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production 

Why Industrial Computers for Sustainable Innovation?

Building the world’s infrastructure to be more sustainable, stronger and more connected requires computers that are built to last. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), will play a key role in our ability to create and maintain sustainable industry. The tools used for these innovations will rely on collecting and analyzing data, leveraging reliability in edge use cases, long lifecycle support and efficient use of power to maximize installation flexibility and minimize use of resources.

Industrial PCs store and process information to control complex systems within a highly reliable, fanless enclosure rated for variable temperatures, isolated against electromagnetic interference and powered efficiently. Industrial PCs are built to last, which decreases e-waste. In addition, industrial computers typically have a lower cost of ownership than commercial PCs due to their performance and durability.

The UN Sustainability Goals listed above require this sort of computation in rugged environments, that may introduce a higher rate of failure for less ruggedized computers. These built-to-last devices are the preferred choice for integration into sustainable innovation and green technologies. 

Environmental Regulations for Responsible Consumption and Production

Responsible consumption and production iconThere are increasing regulations on technology to address goal 12 for responsible consumption and production. These regulations were designed to lower the impact on our waste streams and energy sources. Some of these regulations have been in place for years, long before the UN introduced the SDGs. For example, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) came into European law in 2003. WEEE is a higher standard of e-waste management that requires the manufacturer of the electronic device to be responsible for the disposal or re-use of the electronic goods. And, as of April 1, 2020, a new European regulation requires that external power supplies are more efficient to reach significant energy savings and decrease carbon emissions. 

Electronics manufacturers like OnLogic must adapt to adhere to these kinds of regulations, as governments and citizens demand that businesses control their pollution and greenhouse gas emissions better. One way that OnLogic has taken this a step further is by researching ways to remove excess packaging waste. Last year, we eliminated the plastic bags in much of our system packaging and we are working toward replacing foam padding with recycled paper padding. And while those  may seem like small steps, these small steps can add up to major impacts when you’re building tens of thousands of computers a year.

Green Tech: Smart Cities

Industrial PCs are designed, in part, to build a more connected world with a smaller carbon footprint. Consider the use cases of computers in a smart city. A smart city collects and analyzes data from sensors and cameras that are all part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and uses that information to self-correct and optimize for a safer, more efficient world. Data can be used to reduce energy consumption, decrease traffic congestion, improve air quality and even streamline trash collection among other things. The United Nations incorporated building smarter cities into their list of goals with goal # 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. 

Three and a half billion people – half of humanity – live in cities, with projections indicating that number will rise to 5 billion people by the year 2030. While these cities only take up 3% of the world’s land, they account for 60-80% of the world’s energy consumption and 75% of the globe’s carbon emissions. Building smarter cities is an effective way to decrease humanity’s carbon footprint and ensure that the people who live there have access to clean water, reliable energy sources, and healthy food. In order to integrate IoT devices into a city’s technology stack we need devices that can provide local compute capabilities and report back to the cloud.

Computers at the edge are instrumental in collecting and transmitting this data. These devices enable real time decisions through remote connectivity such as a cellular modem or LoRaWAN. We’re also seeing municipalities can also take advantage of cloud services like AWS Greengrass to design smart city solutions. 

Green Tech Customer Example: Convert Waste to Water (and Save Money!)

One of our favorite customer stories that highlights how industrial computing powers sustainable innovation is BioHiTech. BioHiTech targeted a problem: roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted – approximately 1.3 billion pounds. Much of this food ends up in a landfill. At the same time, organizations such as hotels, schools, prisons, and grocery stores were losing money on this food waste by overspending on food they predicted would be sold, but never was. Enter the BioHiTech food digester. This machine can break down 650 – 2400 lbs (depending on the large or small model) of food waste per day and convert that food waste into gray water which is then processed through the standard sewer line. 

The OnLogic CL210 Ultra Small Form Factor Edge Device used in BioHiTech’s digester machines connects this digester to the AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud. With the help of AWS, it analyzes data at the edge so organizations can make cost saving waste reduction changes. For example, the digester could analyze what type and how much of each type of food was thrown out. Knowing that guests at a hotel aren’t eating as much yogurt as expected, can inform future yogurt purchases for the breakfast buffet. picture o biohitech digester

BioHiTech’s food digesters hits on several of the above sustainability goals! They are creating sustainable, smarter communities by transforming waste into gray water. Instead of this waste sitting in a landfill, it is now passed on to, eventually, be processed into drinking water. Its connectivity to the cloud makes it not just a sustainable innovation, but a cost saving business solution for food waste measurement and disposal. The small-form factor, industrial CL210 provided the processing power to turn this idea into a reality. You can learn more about BioHiTech in our Customer Story.

OnLogic for Sustainable Innovation

As the human population grows, our demands on existing water supplies, sewers, and agriculture require the use of technology to optimize our systems and create a circular ecosystem. The UN has spelled out the problems with actionable goals, now it’s time to build the solutions and OnLogic can help. If you are developing a solution for sustainable innovation, our team has the experience to make sure you have the technology tools you need, computers that are reliable and built to last. Contact with our team today and let’s get started. 

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About the Author: Katie Lukes

Katie Lukes is a Sales Account Coordinator. She ensures that our customers get exactly what they need, where they need it, when they need it. When she isn't working, she likes to enjoy the Vermont outdoors. Her ideal day is a long run, hike or ski with a local VT beer afterwards.
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