Ikeja Electric
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The 4.0 industrial revolution is not only about technology; it is also about values. It is a revolution of knowledge and it will change a producer to a solution provider, a consumer to a prosumer and competition to synergy.

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Edition 2, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

Mitigation of business risks is a top priority for many successful companies. Implementing sustainable, circular business processes that add value by contributing to decarbonisation is an efficient and most importantly, long-term method of sustaining a business.

Planet Earth, or, more accurately, humankind is faced with three main issues that are jeopardising our future existence: global warming caused by increased production of CO2, material scarcity driven by decades of linear ‘produce – throw away – produce’ economy, and unethical labour standards, which are far too common in the 21th century and show a clear lack of respect for humanity, future generations and the environment.

As a single corporation we can do a lot, but in a community of like-minded companies we can move mountains and build a fair smart future. A joint initiative called ‘The Fair Meter’ established in 2015 between Iskraemeco and Dutch utilities, Stedin and Alliander, has received a lot of attention in the past few years. The results of the project were, among others, presented during the World Forum for a Responsible Economy 2018 and awarded for bringing SDGs of the UN Agenda 2030 to life.

Iskraemeco fair smart meter

Whose responsibility is it?

Ethics should be our number one concern when it comes to safeguarding the future for our children. At this moment there are 21 million people working in slavery and an additional 150 million (according to ILO) trapped in exploitative conditions within different industries around the world. Secondly, we have only one planet that supports life and its ecosystem is limited, yet we currently consume 2.5 Earths’ worth of resources. Failing to adapt our consumption to planetary boundaries is becoming a risk for us all, manifested through water and material scarcity. In the last one hundred years, humankind has seen an enormous growth in CO2 footprint. Consequently, the temperature rose and caused the oceans to warm up. The oceans warm the atmosphere, and the circle is closed. Climate change is exacerbating droughts, floods, hurricanes, and extreme summer temperatures.

Our economy is currently in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. It is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in various fields. Metering and the advances in the electronics industry such as digitalisation, IoT and E-mobility are an important part of it. The sheer size and the dynamics of these developments have a big effect on our environment and society.

What does smart metering have to do with it? The smart meter’s primary function is to measure energy consumption and optimise meter data management processes. It enables energy savings and integration of renewable energy resources and is a component on its own. It is a robust smart electronic device that contains up to 250 different materials, including some scarce and conflict materials. If we, as a community, decide and take action, the smart meter can become a sustainable, circular product that can help build an integral and sustainable solution for the end consumer and the utility. A fair smart meter is also the basis for upholding and following the demands set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. How do we do it?

A ‘One planet’ smart metering solution

The ‘One planet’ solution embeds the circular economy principles in the lifecycle of smart meters. It all starts with the meter design, where customer requirements, metering standards, other legislation and material availability need to be considered. Our aim is to enforce the ‘One planet’ architecture design rules. One example of implementing these rules is making improvements on the meter design by learning from companies involved in meter recycling.

Improvements of the meter footprint in four different life-cycle stages:

A) Design phase:

  • Modular design
  • Design for extended life span of 20 years
  • Lower self-consumption of energy
  • Fewer conflict materials
  • Increased material efficiency

B) Manufacturing phase (including packaging, logistics)

  • Material and energy efficiency optimisation
  • Lean production: continuous improvement over the last three years
  • 49% reduction in CO2 emissions since 2013
  • Local sourcing of approximately 70% of the product mass (mechanical BoM): a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions
  • Innovative packaging solution: no use of plastics, 50% less cardboard material, and a potential 25% increase in individual shipment load
  • Environmentally-friendlier transport options

C) Use phase:

  • Increased durability
  • Adaptability
  • Interoperability
  • Upgradeability
  • Reversed flows of information

D) End-of-life phase:

  • Decreased use of materials
  • Easy and faster disassembly
  • Fully recyclable meter
  • Reversed flows of recycled materials

In 2018 Iskraemeco coached and addressed 1,200 external executives and professionals on the importance of sustainability. Our best practice was published in 10 articles, brochures, and books internationally and we received two important awards for our work in sustainability.

All the above results lead to product decarbonisation, lower consumption of materials, water and other resources, and therefore improve company and customer footprints. Iskraemeco is continuing its efforts and is committed to offering additional advances in 2019.

How to embed sustainability in your business in four steps

1. Understand. Be aware of what your environmental and social impacts are and which resources you use. Respect, and develop the value – become part of the solution and innovate in a sustainable fashion.

2. Spread knowledge. Create room for change by communicating, coaching, demanding, enforcing and convincing.

3. Take action. Introduce transparency in your supply chain; this will give you information to integrate the ‘One planet’ design.

4. Partner up. Forge partnerships and alliances with your stakeholders to change existing policies.

Businesses of today must acknowledge the environment and society as their stakeholders. Businesses of tomorrow are smart, responsible, sustainable and innovative for the people and for the planet.

About the company

Iskraemeco is one of the leading smart metering solution providers on a global scale. Since 1945, Iskraemeco employees have been transforming valuable experience, innovation and a sound understanding of customer needs into comprehensive energy management solutions. Iskraemeco has an established network of partners, subsidiaries and production facilities that offer reliable efficient support services to the entire client base.

www.iskraemeco.com

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Edition 2, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.