Technological advances toward a net-zero future for auto manufacturing and beyond
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The shift towards a carbon-free world has dramatically changed the way we approach projects and evaluate our current modes of operations in the automotive manufacturing industry. Technology is a key enabler in the transition towards building more intelligent, autonomous and zero-emission vehicles.

An increasing number of automotive manufacturers are designing, engineering and producing electric vehicles (EV). A recent study by the International Council on Clean Transportation showed the world manufactured more than 10 million EVs between 2010 and 2020. Wood’s expert automation team is currently partnering with numerous original engineering manufacturers (OEMs) in their journey to create new EV production facilities and or convert existing production lines from fossil fuel-powered engines to those supplied by battery.

While there are several similarities in the controls related to conveyance, our vision system and error-proofing teams have found that some portions of the manufacturing process have been simplified. Traditional engines rely on internal combustion to produce power. With the emergence of EV, internal combustion has been replaced with electric power, and hence the amount of movement that needs to be monitored has decreased.

Outside of automotive, there is also an increasing adoption of technology-driven data management practices to reduce industry’s carbon footprint. This is especially true for clients with remote infrastructure and logistical scheduling issues. Today, new technologies like artificial intelligence have transformed traditional data collection methods, enabling clients to analyse data within a SCADA system and even on their mobile devices.

A key example of this is a solid waste management agency in southeastern Virginia which had to schedule tanker trucks based on a set schedule to visit their remote facilities to remove leachate from their tanks. While this process worked, it was not efficient since many tanks still had excess capacity which resulted in wasted trips for the tankers. The agency needed to reduce their carbon footprint generated by scheduling tanker trucks accurately, as well as prevent tank overflow to protect their assets.

We partnered with the agency to create a low-powered remote terminal unit driven by a solar, cellular-enabled IoT board to collect tank levels. The data was then transmitted to a cloud architecture where alerts were pushed in real-time to users for optimal tanker truck scheduling and information. With readily available data, there is no longer a need for manual inspection and supply to remote operations. Now, our clients can schedule logistics in an efficient manner. This means, less carbon, less time and less cost.

This further showcases the need for appropriate infrastructure to support the best technology that will enable the transition to a carbon-free environment. The push for a net-zero economy has certainly caused both manufacturing and industrial industries to thoroughly review and improve their current products and production practices. In return, we can expect to see further investment in automation and data management to fully realise the goal of achieving carbon neutrality.

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Blake Collins
Business Development Manager
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