Panasonic Connect Europe: Addressing Sustainability
For more than 100 years the mission of Panasonic has been to enable people to live better lives and to contribute to the development of society. We have delivered on this mission by creating and providing the best quality products, solutions and services at affordable prices to improve the way we live. But as the world faces up to one of its most fundamental challenges – that of climate change – another important obligation as a corporate member of society has become very clear to us. We must take action to counteract the effect of climate change on this planet. We have a responsibility to help put society and business back on a sustainable footing for the benefit of both the planet and our future generations.
Understanding the environmental footprint
To address these environmental challenges, every company must first understand its current environmental footprint. We calculate that Panasonic emits 2.2 million tonnes of CO2 annually from its business operations.
In addition, Panasonic products are used by more than 1 billion customers worldwide each day. The CO2 emissions from the power consumption to run these products are estimated to be roughly 40 times greater than the emissions from our own factories and business operation.
In total, the emissions from the entire value chain of our group amounts to 110 million tonnes - equivalent to about 1% of CO2 from the world's total electricity consumption.
Panasonic GREEN IMPACT
So, what are we doing in the face of this huge impact? First, we have committed to the ambitious goal of reducing the CO2 emissions of all our operating companies to Net Zero by 2030. We have already made progress towards this important goal with the establishment of five Net Zero CO2 factories operating in China, Japan, Brazil and Costa Rica. This has been achieved through a mixture of energy-saving measures, production and procurement of renewable energy and carbon credits. Work continues towards achieving the same goal for all 250 factories worldwide. In our non-manufacturing sites, we are also accelerating our energy-saving initiatives, procuring renewable energy and equipping facilities with in-house renewable energy generation systems.
In addition to this ambitious goal, we have also set out our Environment Vision 2050, where energy created will exceed the energy used by the business and the use of its products by society. We have a number of initiatives underway to help meet this objective and we call this Panasonic GREEN IMPACT.
Through this programme, we aim to reduce the electricity consumption from the use of our products by developing new technologies and solutions to increase their efficiency. In addition, we will help to further reduce the CO2 emissions of society by offering new energy-saving solutions and clean energy technologies to our customers. These range from helping to build sustainable smart cities, to encouraging the use of more environmentally-friendly vehicles with battery solutions and developing air conditioning systems with lower environmental impact through less power consumption and the use of water as a refrigerant. Another example is Panasonic’s research and development of a hydrogen station at its Kusatsu white goods facility, in Japan, to power hydrogen fuel cell forklifts with clean energy.
Progress in Europe
Turning to Europe, every journey must start with a series of steps and at Panasonic Connect Europe, the B2B product and services provider, we are already taking measures towards sustainability across our different business areas of broadcast, visual, mobile solutions, smart factory solutions and services, with green energy now being used at the majority of our facilities.
In our Visual Systems Solutions business offering projectors and displays, we are focusing on making ever more durable products, with increased energy efficiency and reduced waste. For example, Panasonic was one of the world's first companies to switch from lamp to eco-friendly laser-light sources in its projectors. This switch vastly improves the energy efficiency of the devices and reduces the use of toxic metals. Furthermore, the addition of washable and re-usable Eco-Filters, in combination with the now guaranteed 20,000 maintenance-free operation hours of our projectors has contributed to longer-lasting and less resource-intensive products.
Power efficiency has also been an important focus where significant progress has been made. For example, the latest PT-MZ880 and PT-VMZ71 Series of projectors consume 20% less energy than previous models. This outcome is supported by a newly developed Eco-Management System that automatically adjusts the operating level of the projectors to the optimal brightness for the environment.
Lastly, the Visual team is also focusing on reducing the physical footprint of its visual products, creating more powerful devices in smaller form factors. This approach has made it possible to reduce by up to 40% the physical footprint of the latest PT-RQ35 projector, compared to the previous model. As well as convenience and flexibility for customers, this constant ambition to create powerful devices in ever-smaller physical footprints means less plastic use and ultimately less waste.
Software replacing hardware in Broadcast
In the Broadcast and Professional Audio Visual sector, Panasonic has a history of being the first to introduce new technology with additional environmental benefits, such as memory cards replacing tapes and optical disks in cameras which have significantly reduced disposables going into landfills. KAIROS, Panasonic’s next-generation live production platform, is now playing an important role in the move of the industry to IT/IP video processing. With its software approach and open modular architecture design, the system can be easily upgraded and is long-term future proof – replacing the need for traditional switcher hardware and regular upgrades.
Panasonic has also introduced a refurbishment and certification programme for its popular PTZ camera range, extending the sustainable life of the cameras. The ongoing investment in the development of ever smaller and more efficient cameras and their supporting solutions also continues to reduce the resources used in new products and improve power efficiency.
From Renew to Reuse – sustainable mobile computing
Many European organisations are considering how they can bring sustainability to their mobile computing strategies. Historically, due to rapidly changing business requirements, they have often been forced to switch mobile devices regularly, sometimes before they are even two years old.
In the challenge to reuse, rather than renew, both businesses and device manufacturers have a role to play in helping to build more sustainable mobile practices. Panasonic Mobile Solutions Business is taking steps in this area by developing its rugged TOUGHBOOK notebooks and tablets with reuse in mind. The TOUGHBOOK 55 notebook, for example, is designed for sustainability through its ability to be easily reconfigured and reused.
This device can be repurposed easily by the user in the field providing the opportunity for devices to be reconfigured for different uses, multiple times throughout their lifetime. Accessories such as a fingerprint reader and a second battery can be added with a simple switch, fit and click by the user.
This type of breakthrough design and technology will enable businesses to better handle rapidly changing requirements and help to encourage a more sustainable mobile computing strategy.
Industry and supply chain sustainability
Another major area of focus for us has increased sustainability in the industry and the supply chain. As well as making its own manufacturing and supply chain more sustainable, Panasonic Connect Europe’s teams are working with Panasonic-owned companies, Blue Yonder and Zetes, to help sustainably transform supply chains for its customers in manufacturing, logistics and retail. By intelligently combining components, hardware and software with our extensive industry experience, we can deliver turnkey integrated supply chain solutions.
Gemba Process Innovation
Using our deep understanding of business processes and the power of technologies such as robotics, sensors, IoT and AI, we are also applying Gemba Process Innovation. The Gemba is the physical site where value is created. This Japanese word literally translates to "the actual place" where things are made, moved, or sold. The factory floor, the warehouse, or points-of-sale are all referred to as the Gemba. Panasonic’s approach is unique as it starts the development of its solutions and technologies here, on-site.
The results of Gemba Process Innovation are automated production processes as well as visibility and control of the complete supply chain for a customer, with the aim of cutting costs and waste, improving energy efficiency and minimising emissions.
Smart factory solutions
Panasonic’s Smart Factory Solutions business already provides the lowest energy consumption equipment on the market and its sustainability mission is built on three pillars. First its efforts to reduce the CO2 footprint in the manufacture of its production line machines by shortening the supply chain and focusing on the most sustainable components.
Second, by concentrating on building production line machines where retrofitting and recycling strategies can be applied for extended life cycles. Customers are also able to manufacture sustainably on these machines because of their overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The combination of software solutions, consultancy services, and automation to drive zero downtime and zero defects helps to maximise the efficiency savings of the product line.
Lastly, sustainability benefits also go beyond the manufacturing process itself, with Panasonic machines being used to produce other sustainable products, such as energy-saving residential and home appliances.
Significant first steps
We are still only at the beginning of this journey but there are already many significant initiatives underway to help Panasonic Connect Europe and its customers become more sustainable. We will continue to search for ways to play our part in society and to achieve these important goals. Our commitment is that we will look at all levels; internally to make our organisation eco-friendlier, at the products and services we supply and how - by working more closely with our partners and customers - we can contribute to their sustainable futures.