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Booth Welsh uses sustainable technology for client profits

Integrated engineering company Booth Welsh is helping its clients adopt digital technologies that protect both profits and the planet. Find out more from the company's Aimee Doole.

The Booth Welsh team in a meeting room.

25 November 2021 | 8 minute read

Aimee Doole, Strategy, Communications and Marketing Head, describes Booth Welsh's technology-based sustainability approach. She highlights four affordable and accessible solutions that could help your business improve sustainability and profitability, with no need for a trade-off.

Achieving environmental goals while protecting profits

Booth Welsh is an integrated engineering company based in Irvine. Supporting clients worldwide, we provide solutions that help them improve profitability, efficiency and compliance. Our services include multi-discipline engineering, consultancy, digitalisation and more.

Today, we’re working with our clients to tackle one of the most urgent global issues of our time: business sustainability.

In 2016, the UN developed 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development opens in a new window . These were set out as a ‘blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’. They focus on protecting the planet and driving climate-positive action across the world. 

Meeting these goals won’t be an easy task. We’ve found that businesses often see a trade-off between meeting environmental goals and delivering business results. Even if they want to become more sustainable, many worry about the cost of achieving this.  

As the climate crisis rapidly reshapes the world, lots of companies are still unsure whether to prioritise the planet, people or profit. We’re on a mission to show that new technological tools make it possible to focus on all three at the same time.

Connected, data-driven business technology: Industry 4.0  

Recently, digital devices have begun to connect and collaborate in new ways. This is often called the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0.  

For the last five years, driven by the support of our Managing Director, we've embraced digital at the heart of our business strategy.

Our engineers have been working hard to develop innovative Industry 4.0 solutions for our clients. These solutions use data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and other smart, connected digital technologies. They help businesses boost productivity, increase efficiency, reduce waste and more.  

These technologies have been a lifeline for many businesses during the pandemic. Technology adoption has accelerated worldwide as companies have had to embrace new ways of working.

How Industry 4.0 solutions can protect profits and the planet 

As well as saving money, we’ve found that Industry 4.0 technologies can be extremely effective in reducing a company’s environmental impact. In fact, we see these tools as a key driving force for a more sustainable future.

That’s why we coined the term ‘Environment 4.0', which describes a new, sustainability-focused phase of Industry 4.0. It centres on the adoption of affordable, accessible technology that can significantly improve your business results while also delivering meaningful environmental benefits. 

We’ve helped clients in a range of sectors adopt many different technologies that fall under the scope of Environment 4.0. They’ve seen real results like better efficiency, improved performance, lower risk and waste reduction, as well as positive impacts on their profitability.

Four smart technologies that help you meet business and sustainability goals

Mixed Reality (MR) technology lets you place and interact with virtual items in your real-life environment. To do this, you use a headset device like Microsoft Hololens.  

A combination of MR and Hololens is becoming the go-to method for our clients to test and validate new systems. It allows the client to participate in the testing process without the need to travel to our factory. They can watch tests, add annotations and collaborate with us in real time from their own offices anywhere in the world.

We’ve completed more than 10 remote factory acceptance tests this way during the pandemic. This has helped our clients save money, downtime hours and air miles.

The use of this technology is only set to grow as companies seek to reach their customers more remotely, in a safe, highly effective way that’s also better for the planet.  

A digital twin is a digital model that represents a physical object. It allows you to test products and components before you spend money building anything.  

Our next-generation digital twin technology reduces wasted downtime hours, redesigns and lost materials. It helps us spot equipment clashes, maintenance issues and installation problems long before the project build starts.   

This translates into real savings. By creating a digital twin of a new facility for a pharmaceutical customer, we can save the client over £100,000 in rework costs, over £50,000 in unnecessary travel costs and a dramatic reduction in waste.   

Beyond financial benefits, digital twin technology reduces the time and energy spent on projects. It encourages a ‘right first time' approach to design, commissioning and project collaboration.  This helps cut carbon emissions and site-to-site travel, as well as promoting environmentally responsible plant uptime. 

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors monitor your machinery and systems in real time. They give you detailed, round-the-clock data that can’t be gained from periodic checks. With this information, you can more easily predict when something might go wrong.  

IIoT technology can be easily retrofitted (meaning you can add it to your existing machines). It’s often a first step for clients in the early stages of their digital journey, who are simply looking to make their operations more intelligent.    

For companies in the food and beverage industry, uptime is particularly important when trying to reduce spoiled product and lost revenue.  Working with a large global dairy supplier, we implemented IIoT sensors that use the client’s own plant data. Our flexible monitoring solution alerts the operations team in advance about potential equipment breakdowns. This gives them much more time to react and mitigate any losses.    

This pilot solution delivered a return on investment (ROI) in less than 10 months. By accurately predicting machinery failures, it saved the company large amounts of energy and product, as well as over 100 downtime hours. This meant more than £1 million in downtime energy savings. If rolled out across the UK, this would add up to over £30 million in savings.   

Since acquiring the Scottish factory automation business iTech in 2020, we’ve been able to grow our scope and expertise in robotic systems.   

Robots can produce significant sustainable improvements for businesses. These include:   

  • Reduced labour cost
  • Improved accuracy
  • Increased output
  • Maximised uptime
  • Reduction of repetitive strain and accidental injuries
  • The reduction of dirty, dull and potentially dangerous operations   

Collaborative robots (cobots) are a safe and affordable way to add robots to your workforce. Unlike standard industrial robots, cobots are designed to function alongside human workers. They pose a smaller safety risk, which means the costs of installation and maintenance are lower.   

We recently designed and integrated a cobot for one of our clients, which was initially designed using a digital twin. The creation of this solution involved a hazardous polymer, so prototyping with a 3D model first reduced both risk and expensive product loss.   

The finished solution produced several financial benefits for the client, including a 60% increase in throughput, around 30% savings in energy (due to repeatability and customisation), a 30% increase in time to market and an ROI delivered in under six months. 

Joining climate-focused business networks

We’ve spoken widely about our experimental approach to workforce engagement. The same goes for our sustainability journey.  

In addition to supporting our supply chain with sustainable technology, we want to create ways to inspire everyone — particularly the next generation of our workforce — to understand and be engaged with the transition towards net zero. 

As we're all aware, adopting a change in your way of working isn’t easy. It requires collective effort. Joining meaningful networks has been key for us. The Scottish Net Zero Community and Fuel Change (now known as Powering Futures) are two great communities that aim to create more widespread awareness of net zero actions that businesses can take now. 

We recently entered two teams of apprentices into the Fuel Change Challenge. As part of this initiative, apprentices and graduates from companies across Scotland are tasked with providing creative solutions to industry-set low carbon challenges. The aim is to inspire companies to become more climate aware as they move into the future.

Learn more about Powering Futures opens in a new window  

Invest in a greener and more profitable future 

In a wider way, we believe that Environment 4.0 comes with an in-built sense of paying it forward. When you follow these principles as you adopt new business solutions, doing the right thing balances people, planet and profit — with no need to worry about a trade-off.

Our innovation-led approach to sustainability is already attracting a new generation of customers, partners and workers. Like so many others in today’s marketplace, they’re actively seeking out businesses working to deliver on the UN's sustainable development goals and invest in our collective future.

With proven ROI and so many positive impacts, can your business afford not to invest in these solutions?

Next steps

Learn more about adopting sustainability-driven innovation principles across your operations by reading our business guide

Find out how to increase resilience, reduce costs and protect your business from risk with our five tips on achieving business sustainability.

Ready to get started?

Whether you’re just starting your journey to environmental sustainability, or you already have a project in mind, our experts can help.

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