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Braskem’s use of digital twin exemplifies Society 5.0

Shuji Mori CEO Yokogawa Corporation of America
By Shuji Mori CEO, Yokogawa Corporation of America

FIELD INTELLIGENCE: Smart Processes, Solutions & Strategies

To achieve a better world, we have chosen Society 5.0 as our key driver. The evolution of automation technologies in the context of Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0 is fantastic, but the focus should be to benefit society, humankind and the earth—while recognizing the great value of technology as an enabler.

The industrial revolutions, through 4.0, have hugely impacted society. It is easy to see from history how society has become dependent on technology. Technological development has driven this change, but unfortunately, society has been on the receiving end—for better and for worse.

Society 5.0 illustrates that social transformation is now finally driving industrial transformation. A new industrial revolution, Industry 5.0, which some consider now underway, shares many common visions with Society 5.0.

One definition of Society 5.0 maintains a good perspective: “A human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space.” Here we can clearly see the role that Industry 4.0 and its successor, Industry 5.0, have to play.

We are glad to see that many companies in the automation industry share a vision similar to that of Yokogawa—one that is centered on the human experience and which equalizes humanity, profit and the environment. Jürgen von Hollen, the former president of Universal Robots, wrote in this magazine in 2019 about how people want technology to take over the dull, dirty and dangerous tasks so that they can work in more meaningful jobs.

The company’s robotics portfolio targets the “dirty and dangerous,” for instance, removing a risk to humans by using a robot to venture into a hazardous industrial area.

Across the immense industrial automation portfolios available in the market today, it is easy to lose sight of the human benefits. For example, a seemingly mundane concept, such as modular procedural automation (MPA), could have a strong impact on the human side of process manufacturing.

Compliant with ISA-TR106, MPA provides digitized, traceable standard operating procedures. Users can replace an array of disparate procedures with a single best practice.

Documenting that procedure digitally enables new operators to quickly come on board as experienced operators retire. Users typically also realize improved productivity and safety by drastically reducing the number of operator actions and the number of alarms they process. We are enhancing MPA with digital twin technology to add sustainability to such improvements.

As companies pursue reductions in their CO2 footprints, they are deploying digital twin technology for energy management. Using a real-time energy management system, Braskem, the world’s largest producer of biopolymers and the largest U.S. producer of polypropylene and thermoplastic resins, has, in one of their facilities, reduced energy use by 2.1 percent. In addition to cutting emissions, the move trims operating costs.

Digital twin technology to enhance human processes and energy optimization are among numerous examples of how digitization and technological advancement should be pursued with vigor, but with a clear purpose to benefit society.

The more that technology can take over the “3D tasks,” the better. That allows more of us to utilize our combined efforts to find other ways to improve the world around us—to deploy technology today and to co-innovate tomorrow.

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