Improve the Climate And Also Improve Business Profits

Improve the Climate And Also Improve Business Profits

Let’s put aside politics and just talk good business strategies. I had a boss. He was quite conservative on the political scale. It was the time of “sustainability”. He thought that was only liberal, tree-hugger gibberish. I told him–think money. Less waste equals more profits. Waste is unsustainable.

Those of us who think Lean, think about how to reduce waste.

As usual, where politicians bicker, businesses do things to improve profits while also benefiting the environment.

This report came to me.


  • RE100 total renewable electricity demand of over 159TWh/yr is now equivalent to the 24thlargest country electricity use – ranking between Poland and Egypt;
  • 25 companies had reached 100% renewable electricity by the end of 2016; five of these in 2016
  • With three new members announced today, RE100’s 122 members are increasing renewables capacity globally, with operations spanning 122 countries.

LONDON: A rapidly growing group of ambitious multinational businesses are actively reshaping the energy market through their global investment decisions and accelerating a zero emissions economy, a new report release today (Tuesday January 23) shows.

‘Approaching the tipping point: how corporate users are redefining global electricity markets’, a new report from RE100 – a global corporate leadership initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP –  tracks progress made in 2016-17 by companies committed to 100% renewable power.

The report also provides insight into emerging trends in corporate sourcing of renewables around the world, with 122 RE100 members operating in 122 countries averaging 1.3 times more renewables in their electricity mix than the global rate of renewable electricity use.

Thanks to falling costs of renewable energy technology, there is a notable shift away from renewable energy attribute certificates towards direct contracts with suppliers, as well as onsite generation and offsite grid-connected generators (power purchase agreements, or PPAs) – meaning that increasingly, members are directly growing renewable energy capacity.

Specific findings in the report include:

  • 25 members had reached 100% renewable electricity by the end of 2016, with Autodesk, Elopak, Interface, Marks and Spencer and Sky reaching this goal during 2016, while Equinix and Kingspan surpassed their interim targets during the same year;
  • The biggest achievers in 2016 included Bank of America, Astra Zeneca and Coca Cola Enterprises Inc., whose share of renewable electricity increased more than threefold;
  • The proportion of renewable electricity being sourced via power purchase agreements grew fourfold in 2016, while the quantity of electricity sourced from onsite generation increased x15 (via supplier-owned projects) and x9 (via member-owned projects);
  • 88% of respondents cited the compelling economic case for renewable electricity as a major driver – with 30 out of 74 reporting that renewable electricity was either cost competitive or delivered significant savings on energy bills;
  • Policy barriers represent the most common challenge for RE100 companies, alongside a lack of availability of suitable contracts or certificates in some markets.

The report comes as government and business leaders gather at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss pathways to a sustainable economy, and a few days after Nike signed its second major wind contract, in Texas, US, that will take the company more than half way to reaching 100% renewable electricity globally as part of RE100.

Helen Clarkson, Chief Executive Officer, The Climate Group, said: “I’d like to congratulate every RE100 member accelerating the roll-out of renewable energy through their investment decisions. Their leadership is vital for overcoming policy challenges, shifting global markets, and inspiring many more companies to reap the economic benefits of renewable electricity. Rapidly growing demand from world-leading RE100 companies – and increasingly their suppliers and peers – means governments can confidently look to ratchet up targets in 2020 for slashing greenhouse emissions, to deliver on the Paris Agreement.”

Paul Simpson, Chief Executive Officer, CDP, said: “CDP data shows a jump in renewable energy procurement and that motivations are not only environmental but economic. With nearly 90% of companies driven by the economic case for renewables, this demonstrates a fast approaching tipping point in the transition to a zero-carbon economy.  These companies prove that energy is becoming a board level issue across the globe and sustainability is essential for future business security. Now, it’s time to tip the balance and make 100% renewable the new normal.”

Regional trends

The report also shows key findings by region:

  • In Europe, renewable energy has been the main source of electricity for RE100 members for the second year running. However, the lucrative PPA market is largely untapped; EU policy makers have an opportunity unlock its full potential through the next phase of the Renewable Energy Directive;
  • In the US, we have seen a major increase in the use of PPAs by RE100 members, with continued momentum on renewable electricity sourcing by major businesses, despite political uncertainty;
  • In India, the amount of renewable electricity consumed by our members has more than tripled, thanks to falling costs. The diversity of ways in which companies are sourcing renewables has also increased.


RE100 now brings together 122 global companies, with a collective revenue of over US$2.75 trillion and operations spanning six continents. Together they represent over 159TWh of demand for renewable electricity – more than enough to power Malaysia, New York State or Poland, and equivalent to the 24th largest electricity demand of all countries.


The Climate Group is an international non-profit organization, founded in 2004, with offices in London, Beijing New Delhi and New York. Our mission is to accelerate climate action. Our goal is a world of under 2C of global warming and greater prosperity for all, without delay. We do this by bringing together powerful networks of business and governments that shift global markets and policies. We act as a catalyst to take innovation and solutions to scale, using the power of communications to build ambition and pace. We focus on the greatest global opportunities for change. Our business campaigns RE100 (renewable electricity), EP100 (energy productivity) and EV100 (electric vehicles), brought to you as part of the We Mean Business coalition, help companies to reduce emissions, enhance resilience, and boost the bottom line. They champion leadership, encourage the sharing of best practice, and tackle barriers to action. Visit and follow us on Twitter @ClimateGroup and Facebook @TheClimateGroup.

Led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDPRE100 is a collaborative initiative uniting the world’s most influential businesses committed to 100% renewable power. Renewables are a smart business decision, providing greater control over energy costs and driving innovation, while helping companies to deliver on emission reduction goals. RE100 members, including Global Fortune 500 companies, have a total revenue of over US$2.75 trillion and operate in a diverse range of sectors – from Information Technology to automobile manufacturing. Together, they send a powerful signal to policymakers and investors to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. Visit and follow us on Twitter @theRE100 #RE100.

CDP is an international non-profit that drives companies and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Voted number one climate research provider by investors and working with institutional investors with assets of US$100 trillion, we leverage investor and buyer power to motivate companies to disclose and manage their environmental impacts. Over 6,300 companies with some 55% of global market capitalization disclosed environmental data through CDP in 2017. This is in addition to the over 500 cities and 100 states and regions who disclosed, making CDP’s platform one of the richest sources of information globally on how companies and governments are driving environmental change. CDP, formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, is a founding member of the We Mean Business Coalition. Please visit or follow us @CDP to find out more.

Looking for the Source of Innovation in Manufacturing Technology

Looking for the Source of Innovation in Manufacturing Technology

Looking for the source of innovation in manufacturing technology. Not only am I planning for direction in 2018, I’m in conversations about where lies the excitement.

OK, so it’s been two months I’ve been digesting some thoughts. In my meager defense, November and December were very busy and hectic months for me. Still lots going on in January as I gear up for the year.

Last November, I quoted Seth Godin:

Like Mary Shelley

When she wrote Frankenstein, it changed everything. A different style of writing. A different kind of writer. And the use of technology in ways that no one expected and that left a mark.

Henry Ford did that. One car and one process after another, for decades. Companies wanted to be the Ford of _____. Progress makes more progress easier. Momentum builds. But Ford couldn’t make the streak last. The momentum gets easier, but the risks feel bigger too.

Google was like that. Changing the way we used mail and documents and the internet itself. Companies wanted to be the Google of _____. And Apple was like that, twice with personal computers, then with the phone. And, as often happens with public companies, they both got greedy.

Tesla is still like that. They’re the new Ford. Using technology in a conceptual, relentless, and profound fashion to remake industries and expectations, again and again. Take a breakthrough, add a posture, apply it again and again. PS Audio is like that in stereos, and perhaps you could be like that… The Mary Shelley of ____.

So I asked on Twitter “Who will be the Mary Shelley of automation?

I’m sitting in a soccer referee certification clinic when I glance at the phone. Twitter notifications are piling up.

Andy Robinson (@Archestranaut) got fired up and started this tweet storm:

Gary… why do you have to get me fired up on a chilly November morning! I’m not sure we have any.. at least at any scale. And the more I’ve pondered this more the more I consider the role or culpability of the customer. Buyers of automation at any scale tend to be 1/

incredibly conservative. If they are ok with technology that isn’t much more than a minor evolution of the existing then we aren’t going to get anywhere. Recently I devoured Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma. I keep trying to figure out how a small player 2/

with disruptive tech can move our industry. There are pockets and potential but ultimately if there isn’t enough uptake by customers willing to take a risk then we don’t move forward. Considering all this I “think” I have figured out one potential causal factor. 3/

If you look at where the fastest innovation is happening it’s in software. Is the majority of the innovation coming from vendors or asset owners. it’s asset owners. Amazon, Netflix, AirBnB, etc. are all doing amazing things and taking risks writing new code for their systems4/

Having been an asset owner and vendor I can tell you for a fact I was way more willing to take risks when I was the owner. As a vendor I want to deliver a solution to spec with minimal risk. Fundamentally product companies are doing the same thing. Just good enough with 5/

minimum risk to supply chain, warranty repairs, reliable field operations etc. Even platforms like Kubernetes that appear unaffiliated were developed by asset owners like Google, taking risks and pushing the boundaries. The Exxon work with open automation “has” this 6/

potential but I don’t know if the willpower up and down the chain and left and right with partners is going to be there. It takes incredible willpower to take risks and accept that there will be blow back and consequences in the form of loss of political capital and failure. 7/

So maybe it all boils down to the fact that until we as an industry find a place where failure is acceptable and even celebrated on a small scale we will continue to innovate at a speed somewhere between typewriters and vacuum cleaners. 8/

is it any wonder we have such a hard time attracting young talent? Pay is good and challenges to solve real problems are there. But looking 20 years out we are still doing same things, just a new operating system, faster Ethernet, and new style of button bar on the HMI /endrant

He asks some good questions and provides some interesting insights.

I’ve had positions with companies at different points of the supply chain. He makes sense with the observation that the asset owners may be the most innovative. My time in product development with consumer goods manufacturers taught me such lessons as:

  • Fear of keeping ahead of the competition
  • Relentless concentration on the customer
  • Not just cost, but best value of components going into the product
  • Explaining what we were doing in simple, yet provocative terms

Today? I’m seeing some product companies acquiring talent with new ideas. Some are bringing innovative outlooks to companies who find it very hard to take a risk for all the reasons Andy brings up. The gamble is whether the big company can actually bring out the product—and then integrate it with existing products to bring something really innovative to market. They of course have the funds to market the ideas from the small groups.

Next step, do the innovative people from the small company just get integrated into the bureaucracy? Often there is the one great idea. It gets integrated and then that’s the end. The innovators wait out their contract and then go out and innovate again. I’ve seen it play out many times in my career as observer.

Often the other source of big company innovation bubbles up from customers. An engineer is trying to solve a problem. Needs something new from a supplier. Goes to the supplier and asks for an innovation.

I’d look for innovation from asset owners, universities, small groups of innovative engineers and business thinkers. They live in the world of innovating to stay ahead of the competition or just the world of ideas.

I’m reading Walter Isaacson’s biography “Leonardo” right after his one on Einstein. He offers insights on what to personality to look for if you want to develop an innovative culture in your workforce. Wrote about that recently here.

Veterans, Women, Youth Featured at Rockwell Automation Event

Veterans, Women, Youth Featured at Rockwell Automation Event

Rockwell has had a strong training program for many years. I took my first week-long class in 1991 or 1992. Altogether I have taken about six classes—controls, PLCs, drives, motor control centers, software. I know how intense the training can be.

Last week I posted a podcast of thoughts from Rockwell Automation’s annual series of events held the week prior to Thanksgiving. Now I’m in Spain at yet another conference and trying to get caught up on posts before I start a flurry of posts from here.

So first—training, diversity, and education.

When the company showed off some graduates of its new Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and they talked about the intensity of the three month program, memories came back.


ManpowerGroup and Rockwell Automation celebrated the first military veterans to graduate from the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and secure high-paying jobs in the rapidly-evolving manufacturing industry.

The 12-week program launched in August combines classroom learning with hands-on laboratory experience. Veterans are trained in Rockwell Automation’s state-of-the art facility in Mayfield Heights, Ohio for in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing. All of the graduates have job offers and more than half have multiple job offers that significantly increase — some graduates even doubling — their previous salaries.

“This program felt like it was made just for me,” says Travis Tolbert, U.S. Navy veteran and academy graduate. “It focused on controls and automation, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, but was never able to do until now. The academy helped me take my military skills and understand how I could make them relevant for jobs outside of the Navy.”

“In recognition of Veterans Day, on behalf of Rockwell and ManpowerGroup, we thank all our veterans for their service,” said Blake Moret, CEO of Rockwell Automation. “We are honored to recognize our first military veterans to graduate the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing. We’ve seen their unique combination of core work and tech-savvy skills evolve to successfully position them for careers in the industry. We’re confident this program will help solve a challenge critical to the growth of advanced manufacturing.”

If the accomplishments and future prospects of these veterans didn’t bring a tear or two, you had to have no feelings.


Rockwell Automation has been announced as a 2017 Catalyst Award winner. The Catalyst Award honors innovative organizational approaches that address the recruitment, development and advancement of women and have led to proven, measurable results.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition from Catalyst for our Culture of Inclusion journey, demonstrating our commitment to our employees, customers and community,” said Moret. “Our people are the foundation of our company’s success, and so we must create an environment where employees can and want to do their best work every day.”

The Culture of Inclusion journey began in 2007 with senior leaders renewing their commitment to diversity, inclusion and engagement. This was in response to employee data showing that women and people of color at the company had lower retention rates than white men, and there were gaps in the levels of representation for key demographics. A driving force of this strategy is the knowledge that in order to effect sustainable change, the dominant group—in this case, white men—must be aware of the impact of their privilege, be engaged, and partner with women and underrepresented groups in a meaningful way.

Results: Between 2008 and 2016, women’s representation in the U.S. increased from 11.9% to 23.5% among vice presidents, from 14.7% to 23.2% among directors, and from 19.3% to 24.3% at the middle-manager level. At the most senior leadership levels, women’s representation doubled, increasing from 11.1% to 25.0% among the CEO’s direct reports and from 11.1% to 20.0% on the board of directors. In addition, the Rockwell Automation voluntary turnover is well below the benchmark average for women.


On the Automation Fair show floor, Jay Flores, Rockwell Automation global STEM ambassador, led me on a tour of the FIRST Robotics area and explained how Rockwell is continuing its commitment to the program.

It announced a $12M, four-year commitment to FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—founded to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

Over the past 10 years, Rockwell Automation has provided more than $15M of broad-based support to address the critical need to fill science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs that drive innovation. Many of these jobs go unfilled because of both the lack of awareness of the kinds of high-tech jobs available and the lack of skills to qualify for today’s needs.

“Through our technology and people, we are helping to inspire the next generation of innovators to fill the talent pipeline for our customers and for our company,” said Moret. “Our strategic partnership with FIRST helps us increase our reach and visibility to STEM students around the world.”

In addition to being a global sponsor of the FIRST LEGO League program and sole sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award, nearly 200 Rockwell Automation employees around the world donate their time for the FIRST programs, and more than 300 employees volunteer for the organization in other capacities. The company also donates products integral to FIRST program games and scoring. These product donations are specifically used for the FIRST Robotics Competition playing fields and scoring systems, and they are included within the parts kits teams use to build their robots.

“This generous, multiyear commitment from Rockwell Automation will allow us to focus on the strategic aspects of our partnership while continuing to help scale our programs and expose students to a broader range of industry-leading products and applications,” said Donald E. Bossi, president, FIRST. “The company has a long, rich history of supporting FIRST.”

Foxboro Promotes Open Process Automation

Foxboro Promotes Open Process Automation

The future of process automation was front and center of discussions last week at the Foxboro User Group—The Foxboro Company being the process automation arm of Schneider Electric.

During the week I was involved in quite animated discussions with SVP Chris Lyden and VP Peter Martin regarding the future of process automation. These executives are convinced that there is an inflexion point we are reaching where we are returning to the open architecture we started with years ago. The pendulum swung toward centralized, integrated systems. Technology has progressed to a point of realizing the old dream of distributed control, interoperable systems, systems of systems, and open systems based on standards.

Martin used his closing remarks to the group to talk about the Open Process Automation Forum, which is organized under The Open Group. You may recall I’ve written about this group following each of the last two ARC Industry Forums in Orlando.

The spark was provided by a group from ExxonMobil who saw a dire need to upgrade its systems. Leaders looked at the huge upfront cost of the control upgrade plus the likelihood of being locked into a single supplier and then facing huge lifecycle costs during the life of the equipment.

“When we released our first DCS 30 years ago, we tried to make it as open as possible,” said Martin. “We felt for future innovation, the system needed to be as open as possible. But the level of standards necessary just didn’t exist.”

When ExxonMobil said they wanted to build an open platform, “we jumped in” added Martin.

Foxboro’s Trevor Cusworth is co-chair of the OPAF. He asked attendees to consider the benefits of joining in the effort. “We need more end users,” he said, “since we have only about 11 right now.”

The key benefit noted was reducing lifecycle costs, while the key technology is a new type of I/O.

From the OPAF brochure:

Not only can you contribute to the creation and development of a new process automation system, you can also:

  • Ensure your experience and requirements are included
  • Advocate that your industry sector is represented
  • Validate that existing standards important to you are used
  • Sustain the benefits of the standard and subsequent certification programs

Takeaways: This is an ambitious undertaking. The last one of these I saw eventually fell apart due to a “vicious circle”—suppliers got into the discussion hoping for new sales or the ability to knock off the incumbent; end users failed to not only write the system into their specs even if they did they weren’t enforced; suppliers lost interest due to no sales.

One important thing: If this catches on, it will greatly shake up the process automation supplier market.

Productivity Isn’t About Getting Things Done Anymore

Productivity Isn’t About Getting Things Done Anymore

It’s time to approach the personal productivity topic again. It has been too long. As you may know, I am a follower of Getting Things Done developed by David Allen and detailed in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity.

I also use the Nozbe app to implement GTD. I know that if your tool is too awkward to use, you won’t use it. Works in automation, works in personal productivity. (affiliate link)

So you have your goals; you have your personal vision; you have projects; it boils down to next actions.

But beyond these things, what is really important these days?

I ran across this article on Medium by David Kadavy who is asking the deeper questions—what is really going to differentiate me from my peers and keep me active in the future. He postulates that even knowledge work is threatened by technology, so productivity needs to ramp up another notch or two.

He starts, “It’s not that GTD isn’t still a powerful tool for figuring out how to, well, get things done. It’s that the criteria for what should be done is more stringent than ever. Yes, books like The 4-Hour Work Week and Essentialism have helped us recognize the power of cutting through the noise to focus on the things that will bring us the most impact with the least effort. And it’s true that the ability to prioritize Deep Work will give you an edge over peers who are playing Candy Crush and checking their email every 5.45 minutes.”

“But there’s a realm beyond all of this. As jobs become automated, what remains of “work” will move up Maslow’s hierarchy. The success of the elite worker will depend upon that person’s ability not to get things done, but to have breakthroughs — to use access to knowledge and automation to deliver explosive ideas. To do that which only a human can do. Think Zero to One — the idea that incrementalism holds us back from paradigm-shifting innovation—but for your own career.”

He is on to something. This may not be new. I remember Peter Drucker from 30 years ago talking about doing the right thing rather than doing things right. And certainly creativity is something that sets humans apart from other mammals.

So, how do we get creative? It is more of a discipline of habitually doing things rather than praying for “bolts from the blue.”

  • Try reading every day
  • Read things from disciplines far outside the one you’re working in
  • Every morning sit down with a notepad, write a question or problem, then list 20 ideas
  • Practice asking questions—developing questions is more important than having answers

One last thought—as engineers and manufacturing leaders, what are we doing to make the world a better place? What are we doing to help people’s work better rather than simply trying to replace workers?


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