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Engineering the path to sustainability

12 September 2022

With regular record breaking extreme weather events being compounded by the worldwide energy crisis, sustainability has never been higher on the industrial agenda. Addressing the issues, Festo offers products and solutions to enable resource-efficient production and help to establish a circular economy

SUSTAINABILITY IS at the heart of Festo's business model, and in a clear move to practice what it preaches, over the next two years the company aims to massively reduce its own carbon footprint.

"As a result, all of our production and logistics sites worldwide, as well as the German sales locations and the corporate headquarters in Esslingen, will be CO₂-neutral from the beginning of 2023," explains Festo CEO, Dr Oliver Jung.

In fact, Festo has aligned its own Sustainability Strategy along the Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Scope 3 emissions will play an increasingly important role in this, whereby emissions from purchasing and logistics are considered on the one hand, and the use of products by customers on the other.

Blue World approach

Festo’s wide-ranging contribution to global sustainability is visualised in the company’s ‘Blue World’ strategy.

"With this, we want to express how automation technology can balance the supply of the world's population on the one hand and the protection of our natural resources and climate-neutral production on the other," says Jung. The Blue World illustrates how Festo is striving to transform industrial production into an efficient and more climate-friendly way of manufacturing.

Festo’s customers increasingly perceive the company as a partner in this process, asserts Jung. And, of course, innovations is seen as the key – Festo has made great strides in important innovations, such as digital and intelligent pneumatics, automation platforms and concepts for saving energy in pneumatics. For example, the company presented the world's first pneumatic cobot at this year's Hannover Messe.

Sustainable engineering

At the heart of Festo’s drive towards a carbon-neutral future is sustainable engineering, starting with the machine at design level. Festo supports this process first and foremost through free engineering tools.

“Together with our customers we are actively designing the sustainable and carbon-neutral industry of the future,” explains Rebecca Sacher, project manager for CO₂ reduction in sales at Festo.

“The focus is always on how the customer uses our products,” adds Julia Bikidis, project manager for CO₂ reduction in the product portfolio at Festo. Festo supports the energy-efficient use of products right from the engineering phase.

To help determine which technology is the most efficient for any given application Festo’s CO₂ & TCO Guide engineering tool compares how much energy the various automation products consume in operation and how this influences the total cost of ownership (TCO). Users enter the parameters of an application and the tool proposes solutions for pneumatic and electric drive technologies.

On the basis of the key factors such as costs (procurement costs, energy costs, operating costs), energy consumption and CO₂ emissions per year, machine builders can decide for themselves which parameters are the most important and which drive technology they will pick. What size is required? Apart from deciding on the technology, a crucial factor in reducing CO₂ is sizing, particularly as automation solutions are at their most efficient when they are tailored to the specific customer application, asserts Sacher. The many intuitive engineering tools developed by Festo enable customers to tailor the solution to their specific application and thus reduce CO₂ emissions in the long term.

To help this process Festo provides Pneumatic Sizing and Electric Motion Sizing tools, as well as system configurators such as the Handling Guide Online for selecting and sizing pneumatic or electric products. These tools use evaluation matrices, cost calculators and simulations to show the users a range of clear solutions as a basis for making decisions. Needs-based sizing makes sense, since optimally sized pneumatic drives reduce air consumption by up to 35%.

In addition to these engineering tools, the Festo Online Shop provides a filter function to allow customers to easily find sustainable products. The selected products feature energy-saving functions such as compressed air reduction or switching, which all actively contribute to reducing CO₂ emissions. Product portfolio Festo also applies the principles of CO₂-efficient engineering to its product portfolio, starting  by creating transparency.

“As well as looking at the CO₂ emissions in the use phase of our products, the CO₂ produced during their manufacture becomes a baseline value. We are working flat out on this calculation,” says Bikidis.

Raw materials

The CO₂ produced during the manufacture of Festo products depends to a large extent on the raw materials used. For example, using aluminium with 78% secondary aluminium and implementing material reductions that are already taken into consideration in the product design, the company can reduce the CO₂ produced during manufacturing. In the future, the product carbon footprint, which includes all of a product’s CO₂ emissions, will be incorporated into a digital product passport, which forms a key tool in managing sustainability throughout the product lifecycle.

“We expect the digital product passport to become the standard within the next five to ten years. We are proactively preparing for this with our activities around the digital twin based on the administration shell,” says Bikidis. Software for savings

As well as the vision of Industry 4.0, Festo is also driving the vision of a carbon-neutral product portfolio. As part of this, Festo is currently working on a software program for energy-optimised pneumatic motion. This software should enable a significant energy saving of up to 70% when using pneumatic solutions, without any reduction – if not an improvement – in performance. This approach from Festo illustrates how the future of a carbon-neutral industry is becoming reality.

“The biggest help to us here will be the technological advantage of Controlled Pneumatics,” emphasises Bikidis.

“By being transparent about our products’ CO₂ emissions, both in terms of how they are manufactured and used, the support we provide on the design side and our continuous pursuit of carbon-efficient product innovations, we are enabling our customers to manufacture in a carbon-neutral way,” sum up Sacher and Bikidis.