NTT DATA Business Solutions
NTT DATA Business Solutions | March 25, 2024 | 5 min. read

Climate bOWL: Together for the climate

In this blog post, we highlight the “Climate bOWL” project from our Sustainability Report 2022/23. The initiative aims to develop a system for companies to standardize carbon footprint assessments, emphasizing the necessity of mapping and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in value chains. The project demonstrates the importance of collaboration, networks, and partnerships in driving the crucial transformation of value chains across industries to address the pressing needs of our planet and society.

Togehter for the climate

Climate bOWL: Revolutionizing carbon footprint tracking in global supply chains

What does a systematic approach to climate protection look like when it comes to products? Sources of greenhouse gases in the value chain must first be recorded so that suitable measures can be taken to reduce them. One problem is that product supply chains are often extremely long and distributed around the world. The “Climate bOWL” project aims to develop a suitable solution in the form of an intelligent tracking and assistance system that will establish a standard that companies can apply in recording their carbon footprint. A fascinating and extremely challenging task, as our experts Ali Waliuollah, Head of Center of Excellence for Consumer Products, Innovation & Portfolio Management and Paul Dietrich, Manager Sustainability, Innovation & Portfolio Management at NTT DATA Business Solutions report.

Interview with our experts

Reducing greenhouse gases is the key to climate protection. In just one sentence, can you summarize how the Climate bOWL project will help?

WALIUOLLAH ALI (WA): Climate bOWL aims to establish a tracking and assistance system to record emissions throughout the entire product lifecycle, including the automated development of measures to prevent greenhouse gases.

That sounds like a big task.

WA: Yes, absolutely. The first step is to reproduce the product lifecycle in its entirety, from the extraction and pre-processing of the raw materials through to the manufacture of the actual product, its operation, and its subsequent disposal or recycling.

Is that really achievable?

WA: A lot of things that can be measured are not measured yet. Some of this information is already available in the existing ERP systems but needs to be placed in the right context. Other data points need to be supplied via databases or estimated using appropriate techniques. A lot of CO2e is generated at production sites in particular, mainly through the use of fossil fuels. But the usage phase of a product should not be underestimated when it comes to carbon accounting.

What is CO2e?

CO2e, which stands for “CO2 equivalent”, is a measure used to compare the climate impact of different greenhouse gases. This is because there are other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, in addition to the most important man-made greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

What are the benefits of knowing a product’s carbon footprint?

WA: There are two main benefits. One relates to the environment, while the other is a business benefit.

The environmental benefit

WA: As we all know, the European Union has adopted decarbonization targets based on the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Compared with 1990, the aim is for a reduction in CO2e of 40 percent by 2030, 60 percent by 2040, and 80 percent by 2050. Achieving these targets requires an understanding of how much CO2e a product generates during its lifecycle. Our project will help companies to obtain this information in a transparent and traceable manner.

PAUL DIETRICH (PD): By recording sources of product-related greenhouse gases so that they can be reduced, we will also help companies to prepare for the increasingly stringent statutory and regulatory requirements they can expect to face as they progress toward greenhouse gas neutrality. Our project also lays the foundations for compliance with this growing regulatory framework.

The business benefit

WA: In addition to obligations, heightened statutory requirements and the rapid growth in demand for climate-friendly products also entail considerable economic advantages. Conversely, a failure to act involves risks from loss of revenue through to a loss of reputation. By helping companies to track and prevent emissions throughout the product lifecycle, we enable them to leverage potential efficiency gains as they make progress toward climate neutrality.

What does that mean in specific terms?

WA: Reducing greenhouse gases requires an understanding of where in the value chain those greenhouse gases are generated. In other words, the first goal is to create transparency. This is followed by reduction and prevention, which can take the form of improved energy efficiency or the use of different energy sources.

PD: The latter can ideally also be achieved through machine learning. Automated analyses of energy and material flow data can serve as the basis for deriving and implementing reduction measures. The data collected can also be used in the product development process, e.g. by running simulations so that greenhouse gases can be prevented in advance. In all cases, a well-founded, reliable data pool is the key.


How important is for companies to understand where in the production process CO2e is generated and how emissions can be reduced?

WA: It is becoming increasingly important. The global growth in greenhouse gas volumes and the resulting environmental damage is not only leading to greater pressure on all companies to provide information on emissions in product development – it is also raising the price of these emissions. In other words, companies are finding it increasingly worth their while to understand exactly what levers they have at their disposal to reduce their CO2e emissions.

And the Climate bOWL project can achieve all of this?

WA: The project has a three-year timeframe. The results in the first year were already extremely positive. We implemented the statutory regulatory requirements for carbon footprint tracking for the individual process steps in line with ISO 14067 as the basis for accounting. Building on this, we established a standardized generic data collection model as the basis for implementing a digital data model and developed company-specific data collection models for our industry partners. The specific requirements for data collection and security were defined and work began on creating prototypes for automated data recording in real time.

PD: One of the most important aspects is “true” transparency. The standardized collection and communication of the relevant data is essential for achieving this. The corresponding internationally recognized standards prescribe a methodological approach. One of the objectives of the project is to translate these requirements into a system that customers can actually use to generate real value added.

Developing a holistic approach to aggregating and measuring greenhouse gases may be essential when it comes to limiting them, but a project of this nature is also incredibly complex. How can an undertaking like this succeed?

WA: Because our project brings together the necessary expertise. All of the partners involved are extremely capable and highly motivated, with a clear focus on specific and tangible outcomes. Our industry partners Miele and GEA are jointly responsible for defining the requirements and serve as application partners, Paderborn University is skilled in determining energy efficiency and developing corresponding measures, Bielefeld University takes care of secure data exchange with its considerable expertise in this area, and NTT DATA Business Solutions translates the results into specific solutions for the respective business processes so that our project partners and other customers can implement them.

In other words, NTT DATA Business Solutions’ role in the overall process is to make the data tangible and visible for companies?

WA: Exactly. The main aim of the project is to transparently map greenhouse gas emissions for every product and for the parties involved. At the end of the day, what matters most is being able to draw the right consequences across the entire value chain. For instance, our project partners are extremely keen to reduce CO2e emissions not only in their own production activities, but also in the subsequent operation phase so that their customers generate less CO2e when using their products.

PD: Another example is a detailed analysis of procurement logistics in order to prevent transport emissions at other companies. In other words, companies are not only seeking to lower their own CO2 emissions in the supply chain, but are also focusing on what influence they can exercise over the value chain.

This supply chain is often global. How important is it for the knowledge resulting from this project to translate into software that can be used globally?

WA: Very important. As a world-leading provider of ERP software, SAP is a major global player with corresponding market penetration. Some time ago, SAP began developing solutions for emission tracking and expanding its product portfolio in this area. However, one thing that is still missing is specific implementation for individual companies. The nature of the topic means an off-the-shelf product or a standard solution is not an option here. Any company that believes it can successfully collect CO2 emission data simply by purchasing the corresponding software needs to think again. The collection process goes deep into the corporate structure and requires data from a wide range of areas.

PD: We are responsible for supporting our customers in identifying and collecting the relevant data and transparently facilitating the requirements for standardized carbon footprint tracking and their implementation using SAP solutions. The Climate bOWL project is of great assistance to us in this regard. And of course we will continue to pursue these aims even after the project ends.

How will things look in ten years’ time?

WA: A decade from now, the collection and transparent publication of carbon footprint data will be absolutely essential. Uniform, standardized data collection will have become as commonplace as secure data transfer along the entire value chain. And I am quite sure that preventing CO2e emissions will play an increasingly important role in product development and as a factor in international competition.

What is Climate bOWL?

  • Climate bOWL is a research project forming part of the it’s OWL (Intelligent Technical Systems Ostwestfalen-Lippe) cluster of excellence. It has a planned timeframe of three years from 2022 to 2025 and a total volume of a good three million euros. Almost 60 percent of this figure is being provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
  • Climate bOWL aims to find smart solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by firstly calculating greenhouse gases throughout the entire value chain and then reducing them.
  • In addition to NTT DATA Business Solutions, the project partners include the domestic appliance manufacturer Miele & Cie KG, the supplier of systems to the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH, the energy monitoring company Phoenix Contact Smart Business GmbH, Paderborn University, and Bielefeld University.
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