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ECOPLANNER (news article)

Eco-efficient management platform

INESC TEC develops 1st Portuguese eco-efficiency software

Ecoplanner suggests more sustainable options

INESC TEC developed, together with Ecoinside, FEUP and ISA, an IT management platform for eco-efficiency in industrial units that monitors consumptions of energy, water and other resources. Furthermore, in order to suggest more efficient solutions, the platform also measures gas emissions and wastes resulting from manufacturing. The Ecoplanner is now being tested at Sorgal, one of the largest animal feed producing companies in Portugal.

Ecoplanner Ecoplanner

Ecoplanner provides data in (almost) real time on the performance of companies

The first Portuguese eco-efficiency software was designed thinking of energy and environmental issues that increasingly hinder the competitiveness of companies. The Ecoplanner analyses the performance indicators (KPIs) in a company, measuring parameters such as water and energy consumption, pollutant gas emissions and wastes. The goal is to find alternative solutions with a lower environmental impact, which also reduce the company’s costs.

The platform aims at promoting more efficient practices, not only in manufacturing, but also in administrative and maintenance processes, increasing the quality of products or services, while simultaneously saving economic and environmental resources. The “Ecoplanner aims at helping companies find alternative production processes, with lower costs and a reduced carbon footprint”, explains José Correia, the researcher at INESC TEC’s Centre for Information Systems and Computer Graphics (CSIG) in charge of the project.

Ecoplanner Ecoplanner

All information (internal control reports, maintenance warnings and the performance of processes and equipment, for instance) is provided in almost real time, thus making it possible to make informed decisions according to all relevant and updated data and indicators. The software, which can be used from any browser on the Internet, is “a true decision support tool that was designed to allow companies to constantly think and promote their eco-efficiency”, highlights Joaquim Guedes, the executive manager of Ecoinside.

INESC TEC was Ecoinside’s partner from the beginning of the project

The platform, which was presented on 31 May at INESC Porto, started being developed in 2011 as part of project Ecoplanner, financed by the NSRF and led by  Ecoinside, with the collaboration of INESC TEC, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) and Intelligent Sensing Anywhere (ISA).

Joaquim Guedes José Correia

Ecoplanner brought together Ecoinside (a company that provides eco-efficiency and sustainability solutions) and CSIG, involved in the project from the very beginning. “Because this is a completely innovative decision-support tool at an international scale, this was a real and very ambitious R&D project that led us to start a very close relationship with INESC TEC”, reveals Joaquim Guedes, who soon saw a precious ally in CSIG.

The project team at CSIG includes researchers José Correia, Carlos Aldeias and Artur Capela, and was supported by the BCSD Portugal – Conselho Empresarial para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável (Business Council for Sustainable Development).

Ecoplanner Ecoplanner

The tool is now being tested at Sorgal

In June, the prototype started being tested at Sorgal, but it is still soon to make any assumptions on the real impact of the technology in the company. The manager of Sorgal, João Pedro Azevedo, believes that this tool will have an impact on issues such as “production planning, the technical design of products and Activity Based Cost product-client analysis”, he states.

The executive director of Ecoinside, Joaquim Guedes, reveals that “the savings in terms of resource consumption (water, energy, raw materials, among others) can vary between 10 and 25 per cent, and the decrease in CO2 emissions can go up to 35 per cent”. “It is estimated that a company can save at least 100 hours on human resources, in the elaboration of reports and documents for the regulatory entities”, the director adds, but savings vary and depend on several factors, such as the company’s dimension, the level of technology owned, the strategy to improve eco-efficiency or the type of existing processes, for instance.

The software was installed and configured at Sorgal, but it can be replicated in any industrial unit, thus contributing to a sustainable and intelligent development, as well as to increase competitiveness.

* Photo 7 and 8 by Sorgal



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