Battling disease

Rich countries solved this problem decades ago, but now millions of poor people are dying from it

Pollution killed nearly 8.9 million people in 2012.

This year, industrialised countries will spend $10.4 billion helping poor countries cut carbon emissions and brace for the impact of climate change. Meanwhile, the world shells out tens of billions a year combating infectious diseases like HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, spending which continues to rise.

What hardly anyone’s spending on is pollution ‒ even though it’s the most lethal force on the planet, killing nearly 8.9 million people in 2012, the last year for which there was data. Here’s how unnatural causes of death stack up globally:


To be more precise, rich countries do spend on cleaning up the environment ‒ mainly just their own, though. Yet poor countries suffer the majority of pollution’s lethal impact: 94% of the people that are sickened by toxic air, soil, and water each year live in the developing world, according to a report just published [pdf] by the Blacksmith Institute, Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, and Green Cross Switzerland, three non-government organizations.


Part of the problem is that the nations with egregious pollution woes tend also to be the poorest. Most can only allot no more than 1-2% of their national annual budget to dealing with it ‒ often equal to a few hundred thousand dollars ‒ says David Hanrahan, advisor to GAHP.

Another is that, unlike specific infectious diseases, pollution causes a broad range of symptoms, says Green Cross Switzerland’s Nathalie Gysy. “Pollution is not a priority concern in poorer countries in part because it’s often invisible to the eye and doesn’t leave a clear fingerprint on its victims,” she says.

And since rich countries have long since forgotten their own struggles with crippling levels of pollution in the 1950s and ’60s, they tend to neglect it in their foreign aid, adds Gysy.

That doesn’t mean rich countries are necessarily insulated from the pollutants sickening their poorer neighbors. China’s airpocalypse is now turning up in Los Angeles, as well as in Korea and Japan. Meanwhile, mercury runoff from small-time gold mines and coal plants in Asia and Latin America shows up in the wealthy world’s tuna rolls, just as arsenic sometimes taints its rice.

Then there’s the impact to global GDP. The report estimates that the health consequences of air pollution alone costs low- and middle-income countries 6-12% of their GDP a year. Foul air and water are clearly not boosting long-term productivity, either. A growing body of evidence suggests that pollution reduces IQ, including a 2013 study that estimated nearly 200,000 children in seven Asian countries suffered a reduction of between five and 15 IQ points [pdf] as a result of lead poisoning.

By comparing the destructive effects of pollution to those borne by climate change and infectious disease, the groups hope to attract the attention and funding of wealthier countries and organizations. These pollution problems can be relatively inexpensive to combat, say the three groups. For instance, cleaning up a village’s hazardous waste and educating villagers can cost as little as $20 per person.

But poor countries also have a ways to go in recognising pollution’s toll. The 17 “sustainable development goals“ ‒ economic development priorities many such countries helped set, and which the UN will likely soon adopt as its own agenda ‒ include combating climate change and using natural resources sustainably; pollution barely gets a mention.

This article originally appeared on qz.com.

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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

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The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.