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Hannover. For many observers, the Climate Change Conference in Madrid was a bitter disappointment. Nevertheless, Germany’s politicians finally adopted a climate protection package in December 2019. According to this compromise, the CO2 price was set much higher than originally planned. A regulatory framework has been established under which there is a significantly greater economic incentive to invest in climate-neutral technology. This will benefit enterprises that specialize in energy management solutions – for industry, municipalities as well as buildings.

"This decision will significantly increase the demand for energy management systems as a means of reducing consumption and CO2 emissions," says Achim Schreck, Managing Director of Weidmüller GTI Software, who sees a lot of work ahead for the entire industry. Next April at HANNOVER MESSE 2020, Weidmüller will (in Hall 12) demonstrate to the German and international public which knowledge, software and systems are already available for this purpose. Schreck, who founded GTI Software and brought it into the Weidmüller Group in mid-2018, sees process optimization and load management as the driving motives for increased investment in energy management solutions, especially in the energy-intensive industries. However, if these investments are to pay off in the long term, important conditions must be fulfilled – for example, sophisticated and sensitive data acquisition, plus full transparency with regard to all the factors influencing the production process. This also extends to the materials used in production. The GTI software product ResMa (which is certified according to ISO 50001) comes into play as soon as data is captured automatically and production has been fully "networked". ResMa is already in high demand in Germany, Spain and Eastern European countries.

The software offers a complete overview of individual process steps and facilitates a precise analysis of all operations. "Ease of use was a top priority during the software development phase," emphasizes Schreck. "The software must be compatible with existing web interfaces and must also take account of individual requirements." According to Schreck, these are basic prerequisites in today’s increasingly complex industrial environment. "This is the only way we can really increase efficiency in companies." The graphical representation of individual consumption readings provides the starting point for potential savings. These are documented and collated with reference to a PDCA cycle. Interactively adaptable charts allow the optimum visualization of correlations in every given situation.

In Schreck's view, digitalization is the key to realizing the climate-neutral factory. In other words, the digital networking of all the relevant machines and systems is a precondition for efficient intervention and control. The degree of automation will increase even further. Machines will communicate not only with other machines but also with the plant software, thus creating the basis for further optimization. Schreck gives an example: "If data availability is good, patterns will become visible on all the machines involved in the production process; if these deviate from the norm, countermeasures can be taken in advance before a malfunction or excessive energy consumption occurs." This is a stepping stone towards Artificial Intelligence (AI), which Weidmüller is promoting via its Industrial Analytics business unit. It is interesting to note that automation, digitalization and energy management are converging at various levels and offer completely new perspectives for highly efficient production, which at some point will be climate-neutral.

Despite these good prospects, Schreck is concerned about the attendant risks – for example as regards data security. "Precautions must be taken in good time," says Schreck. "In the end, digitalization cannot replace people who talk to each other directly in order to come up with new solutions. Indirectly, this is an invitation to come to HANNOVER MESSE, where Digital Energy exhibitors will provide in-depth information on digitalization strategies for energy suppliers, municipal utilities and grid operators."