Insights from ARC Forum 2023: Navigating the Path to a Sustainable Future

At the annual ARC Forum meeting in Orlando, we highlight the dual challenge of meeting the growing demand for resources while addressing sustainability goals

February 08, 2023

Once again, I am attending the annual ARC Forum meeting in Orlando, Florida. I’ve made it a habit of arriving on Sunday to catch the cybersecurity sessions held Monday morning; a topic that I’m interested in having previously been in a role at AspenTech that required me to monitor the security landscape and challenges of our customers. I’ve moved on, though, and now work in Product Management in our Asset Performance Management business unit — but my interest in cybersecurity remains. One highlight of the Monday session was the presentation from the representative of the US Government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and I can honestly say I learned more scary stuff about nefarious cyber activity during that talk than I ever wanted to learn. I often wonder what could be accomplished if all those bad actors used their substantial skill and drive to improve the world.    

Fortunately, the rest of the conference highlights the decency of humankind as we see products, solutions, projects and initiatives that aim to improve our world by running safer, greener, faster, and longer – aligning perfectly with AspenTech’s mission.  

In this week’s Executive Panel discussion, AspenTech CEO Antonio Pietri highlighted how AspenTech has focused our customer value mission on what we call the Dual Challenge—meeting the growing demand for resources from a growing population with increasing standards of living, while also addressing sustainability goals.  

These efforts are elevated by partnering with our customers on projects that increase profitability, reduce expenses, increase throughput and other initiatives that always have the byproduct (or even the main benefit) of meeting sustainability goals. Our focus is providing sustainability solutions to help our customers solve this as a primary goal, which has led to how we approach the deliverables in our products — Antonio Pietri underscored the need to meet the dual challenge by sharing some compelling statistics.   

  • By 2050 we will see a world population increase from 8 billion people to 9.7 billion people; we will need more resources and products.  
  • There is an estimated 50% increase in global energy demand by 2050. This means an expansion of the electrical grid, increased security for the grid, an increase in chemicals demand  
  • A rapid growth in metals for electrification will be up to a staggering 600% by 2035.   


 Pictured above: AspenTech CEO Antonio Pietri participates in the ARC Executive Panel


One Goal, Multiple Solutions

Antonio made an important distinction after visiting five CEOs in Europe during a recent trip -- he said clearly that sustainability is not one size fits all. There are considerations about the skills available and the opportunities best-suited for the individual business. An additional challenge is that companies aren’t just trying to obtain new value but sustain it over time. This translates to a wide range of needs for our customers and we are uniquely positioned to help in the areas of design, operation, maintenance, and data aggregation and visualization.  

These efforts in sustained value remind me of a phrase which has stuck with me: “sweat the asset.” Sweating the asset means favoring the extraction of every moment in an assets useful life rather than replacing it after a failure. As my colleague, Hector Borrás, outlines in a recent blog, all equipment has an intrinsic failure rate. The question becomes: when and how?  

Prescriptive and Predictive Maintenance are always at risk of causing inconvenient disruptions, but how disruptive could the alternative be to daily operations? Maintenance costs, increased energy consumption, decreased resource efficiency and more are all in play when discussing the ramifications of unplanned equipment downtime. It is inescapable, then, just how ubiquitous sustainability efforts are, sometimes the measure of these efforts can be traced back to the equipment you use and how well it's maintained. I cannot help but apply this to a quote from another colleague’s writing: “if you don’t schedule for downtime, your equipment will do it for you.” 

This philosophy, which is central to AspenTech’s APM suite has a demonstrated track record of helping companies save budget while meeting sustainability goals. In 2022 we were recognized as an APM Market Leader in the Verdantix Green Quadrant, thanks to our APM suite of products including Aspen Mtell®—our predictive maintenance solution which uses AI and machine learning to provide real-time insight into issues before they occur. These achievements support my long-held belief that we significantly move the needle on impacting sustainability, which I’m unequivocally proud of. 

In conclusion, very exciting times for the APM space and particularly for our customers. I’ll be sharing more from a session I chaired this week on Improving Plant Productivity and Advancing Sustainability with APM Solutions.    


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