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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  03 May 2012

GREEN COMPUTING: Green Computing and Sustainable Manufacturing


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Speaking at the recent Green Computing Conference that was held in Johannesburg, Kevin Dees, Technology Director for Adapt IT Solutions, said that visibility and awareness around greener environments is growing. “The key focus area does however need to be on sustainability,” says Dees.

Dees used Professor David Dornfeld from the University of Berkeley’s documentation of the perpetual manufacturing paradigm shifts as a basis for the technology industry to strive towards sustainable green manufacturing. “We have evolved from a craft production paradigm (medieval times) to a mass production paradigm (late 1800’s). We then moved on to a flexible production paradigm and now find ourselves in a small lot production paradigm. The next paradigm shift must be towards sustainable green manufacturing,” says Dees.

Along with a number of other factors such as societal influences and the supply chain, sustainable green manufacturing takes the entire product lifecycle into consideration from the point of origin through to disposal, says Dees. “As a manufacturer I need to consider the fact that the customer will not only buy the product from me, but at some point that same customer will be seeking to dispose of that commodity. We will reach the point of sustainable green manufacturing once the entire lifecycle and a number of other key factors are considered and engineered into our production paradigm.”

A few companies are already taking steps towards this new green paradigm. Nike has launched an initiative where consumers can return their used Nike shoes to the manufacturer who recycles the rubber into playground equipment for children. This is an example of a company taking a broader view of the materials used in their manufacturing process. It effectively redefines the lifecycle of the product and makes progress towards a greener footprint, taking first steps towards sustainable manufacturing. The same must apply to the IT industry. “Hardware manufacturers need to incorporate a recycling mind-set that looks at what can be done to combat e-waste.”

Virtualisation and the cloud computing platforms have gone a long way to help business realise the value in fully utilising computer resources. The average server utilisation is far below 40% for example. “Wouldn’t it make sense to let someone else utilise the rest of that capacity on the other side of the globe while you are sleeping‘” asks Dees.

Working more cleverly with the resources that we have is key, especially from a power consumption perspective. “In most cases it is a fact that older server technology will consume more power and perform less optimally than newer server technology. Older equipment must be evaluated on a regular basis and dismissed accordingly.” As it relates to energy consumption, the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) specification provides a standard for device configuration and power management. The challenge is to develop, deploy and maintain a set of green policies that satisfies large user communities. This is further complicated by the explosion of mobile devices and remote connectivity. This effectively opens a new and challenging playing field for IT administrators, which requires attention," explains Dees.

Dees says the thinking around green computing is slowly evolving. “When personal computers became ubiquitous (early 90’s) we did not understand the ergonomic impact this had on our bodies.” There is a different yet similar correlation between that awakening and our ability to appreciate, interpret and embrace green computing ideology. From a legislative and standards perspective we are making progress, albeit slowly. The fact remains, we are still a long way from where we need to be in terms of reaching Professor Dornfeld’s sustainable green manufacturing model,” concludes Dees.

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