Wienerberger and SAS receive 2021 MIMA Award for Sustainability

Project team recognized with Microsoft Intelligent Manufacturing Award
Jury finds solution's scalability compelling

Analytics-based solution reduces energy consumption and emissions to help meet ambitious ESG goals

Wienerberger has implemented many innovative projects as part of its internal sustainability strategy over the years, making an important contribution to achieving its ambitious environmental social governance (ESG) goals. On February 24th, one such project that seeks to reduce energy consumption and emissions through analytics was recognized with the Microsoft Intelligent Manufacturing Award (MIMA) in the Sustainability category. Each year, Microsoft and Roland Berger honor the most innovative and promising ideas for digital use cases in manufacturing with MIMA awards.

As part of a project dubbed Automated Load Curve Balancing with AI, SAS used SAS Viya on Microsoft Azure to help develop an application that improves the ability of clay brick factories to handle what are sometimes dramatic fluctuations in energy consumption during the phases of the manufacturing process. The solution employs process forecasting to minimize energy consumption and the resulting emissions for energy-intensive production processes such as the drying and firing of bricks.

The conventional and proven methods of manufacturing bricks have a long history. Large investments in new technologies take time to plan and implement. At Wienerberger, digital solutions are making it possible to save energy and reduce emissions on a much shorter timescale.

“Digitalization offers incredible scalability when it comes to increasing the efficiency of our production operations. We’re seeking to leverage digital technology to cut energy consumption quickly and reduce our CO2 emissions,” said Solveig Menard-Galli, Chief Operating Officer at Wienerberger Building Solutions and member of the Wienerberger AG board. By starting to roll out analytics models across its large network of production facilities, Wienerberger has assumed a pioneering role in construction materials. “We’re using granular data from operations to train our models and optimize parameters online. It’s increasing the efficiency of our production and driving decarbonization. This program also contributes to all of our strategic initiatives including operational excellence, innovation, digitalization, and ESG.”

Wienerberger is currently testing the solution in cooperation with SAS as part of a pilot project in Poland. Recent investments in modern IT infrastructure are now yielding returns by enabling this innovative and fully cloud-operated solution. Florian Zittmayr is responsible for production digitalization and artificial intelligence at Wienerberger. He sees the project as focused not only on horizontal scalability across a large number of production plants, but also vertically as a result of the massive quantities of data that result. “With 45 years of experience in advanced analytics, SAS was a compelling choice for this project,” Zittmayr said. “It only took us a few weeks of working together to implement from initial concept to prototype. That helped us at Wienerberger to understand analytics as a technology and benefit from it.”

In the future, many additional models will be generated and deployed to complement the main optimization model. The goal is clear: Save energy and reduce emissions through data-driven optimization while maintaining product quality.

Sustainability has been at the core of Wienerberger’s activities for decades, representing a main pillar of the company’s 200-year history. Being recognized with the MIMA for sustainability attests to the leading role Wienerberger holds with respect to sustainability and innovation — not only within the industry, but also among all manufacturers internationally.

About the 2021 Microsoft Intelligent Manufacturing Award

The Intelligent Manufacturing Award honors promising projects in the operations sphere that are helping to create the factories of the future. The jury seeks out innovative digital solutions that facilitate the transition to Industry 4.0. The submitted projects apply fresh ideas and creative approaches to establish new benchmarks in digitizing the value chain.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 83,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® .

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