Sustainability and technology go hand in hand

Sustainability and technology go hand in hand
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Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) may not often be associated with climate change mitigation, but its use of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing can actually play a pivotal role.

Smart factories equipped with IR 4.0 capabilities can be more efficient and effective than ever before, ensuring that no energy or materials are wasted, observes Datuk Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah, CEO of Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd.

Clean energy can also be integrated with IR 4.0 to power various processes and the transport of goods to the final consumer.

“Investing in research and development to bring more awareness of how technology can encourage reuse, reduce, recycle and replace principles so that there is effective use of raw materials and energy is important,” he says.

IR 4.0 creates more efficiency and improves the way businesses are run. For instance, a combination of IoT and 5G allows for real-time collection and distribution of data through the right channels.

“Big data powered by AI allows for predictive and prescriptive analytics. To enable swift action and data-driven decision-making, this information has to be accessible at any time and anywhere, which is where reliable cloud computing platforms come to play, as these can store, process and visualise the data,” says Abdul Karim.

In turn, this allows companies to better analyse how their processes impact the environment. Predictive and prescriptive analytics also encourage the optimal use of resources, materials and energy.

“That is because production is only done on demand and at the right quantity. Waste is recycled or converted into materials. What is left is only what cannot be put to another use,” he says.

Linking IR 4.0 and sustainability together is crucial. There is a misconception that sustainability practices are separate from the usual activities of a company. But that is not the case, Abdul Karim emphasises. The right approach is to include sustainability into common practices.

“This is where technology can be used to make sustainability more viable and attractive for businesses. Technology should be able to highlight how sustainability principles are achievable and can work both ways for the environment and the business,” he says.

Any business that integrates sustainability into its operations can achieve longevity and save costs while benefiting the environment, says Abdul Karim. “Ultimately, technology should be able to normalise sustainable business practices and allow the industrial sector to lead by example.”

Working towards IR 4.0, which is often described as the path forward for the industrial sector, without practising sustainability would limit the benefits of the technology.

Businesses need to understand that energy, environment and climate change have significant influence on business processes and outcomes, says Abdul Karim. “Therefore, the industry has to start implementing sustainable business processes, such as utilising green energy in their operations, shifting away from the ‘take, make, waste’ model and maximising lean practices in their operations.”

Creating long-term value

Combining sustainability and technology is an area that Serba Dinamik is passionate about. For the past 30 years, the company has been providing integrated engineering solutions to the energy sector. It is also involved in IT, global trading and training and education.

“The foundation of our success is creating long-term value, which is exactly what sustainability is all about. Over the years, the company has embarked on sustainable business practices and is actively working towards quantifying business value through digital transformation solutions,” says Abdul Karim.

“The company also holds on to the value of giving back to the community in the most meaningful way, which is to ensure the industrial sector can lead the way in combating climate change.”

For instance, Serba Dinamik digitalised its business operations and shifted away from paper-based operations using SMART digital platforms developed by Serba Dinamik IT Solutions (SDIT).

SDIT has also developed AI and data-driven enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms to produce SMART procurement and SMART inventory solutions. Its SMART maintenance solution offers enablers for lean practices, such as AI-driven predictive analytics, real-time remote monitoring and digitalisation of knowledge and experience.

Predictive analytics can allow for early prevention of unplanned downtime, while remote monitoring enables immediate tech support on-site by experts.

Digitalisation of knowledge and experience involves training through XR technology (a combination of augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality). This cuts down on the waste generated when running conventional training sessions and encourages better knowledge retention, says Abdul Karim.

“Using these systems, we are able to track the source of our inventory and materials, minimise waste in our inventory backlog and utilise an AI engine to predict inventory usage, lifecycle and warranty, among others. Ultimately, these systems allow Serba Dinamik to make precise decisions, minimise waste of resources or materials and enable us to identify the vendors or partners that embrace sustainability in their products and services.”

Now, SDIT is expanding into five key areas of advanced technology — cloud computing, AI, frontier technology, cybersecurity and fintech.

Meanwhile, Serba Dinamik has actively invested in renewable energy assets in line with its mission to be a sustainable and environmentally responsible company. It has invested in companies involved in hydropower generation and biogas power generation.

“We have also developed several objectives and operating procedures to ensure that we minimise our resource consumption by at least 5%, as well as minimise any form of waste generated. Apart from that, the company has imposed resource consumption and waste management measures in our policies to minimise waste production and ensure a prudent use of resources,” says Abdul Karim.

The company also ensured that its latest facility is certified by the Green Building Index in Malaysia. As a result, its total produced waste did not exceed 6,000 tonnes last year.

Additionally, the company has been working with communities to increase their awareness of sustainability. For instance, it collaborated with Bintulu Development Authority to teach students from Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Perak, and families from Kampung Jepak, Bintulu, about composting methods.

Serba Dinamik Indonesia has collaborated with Ecubes Arcola to challenge 90 students from Surabaya to build, design and race hydrogen-powered model cars. Moving forward, the two parties will work together with the British Embassy in Indonesia and the Surabaya city government to develop the first zero-emission bus using hydrogen fuel cells.

SDIT is already working with industrial partners such as Microsoft and Huawei to build SMART city solutions so that technology can make sustainability more viable.

“We are building power management systems, smart residences, waste management systems, traffic control management systems, smart grid systems and public infrastructure monitoring systems. The end goal of SMART city solutions is to realise Malaysia’s smart nation aspirations and turn it into the regional and global leader of sustainable practices,” says Abdul Karim.