Diversified major Rio Tinto and automation specialist Schneider Electric have signed a memorandum of understanding for a first of its kind collaboration to develop a circular and sustainable market ecosystem for both companies and their customers.
This multi-product partnership will see Schneider Electric use responsibly sourced materials produced by Rio Tinto, including low carbon aluminium and copper produced with renewable power, iron-ore, and borates.
Rio Tinto will use energy and industrial services from Schneider Electric, as the companies work together to develop digital platforms, technologies and solutions to be deployed across the metals and mining supply chain to drive further decarbonisation, explains Rio Tinto chief commercial officer Alf Barrios.
“This unique partnership will help accelerate decarbonisation and renewable energy solutions by combining low-carbon materials with cutting-edge digital technology. Working together will allow Rio Tinto and Schneider Electric to pursue opportunities beyond what is possible for either company on its own,” he says.
Barrios adds that the collaboration also creates opportunities to consider strategic initiatives such as expanding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics to reduce downtime in plants and digitise supply chains.
Schneider Electric industrial automation executive VP Barbara Frei notes, “we are excited to work with Rio Tinto to develop clean and pioneering solutions to meet industrial decarbonisation challenges”.
“As the world’s most sustainable corporation and a manufacturer with a global network of smart factories and smart distribution centres, Schneider Electric is on a mission to make industries of the future eco-efficient, agile, and resilient through open software-centric industrial automation and sustainable energy solutions.
“This new partnership demonstrates that Rio Tinto is as passionate as we are about bridging progress and sustainability for all,” Frei states.
The partnership will draw on Schneider Electric’s expertise to evaluate the use of innovative solutions, including microgrids, to supply energy from low-carbon sources, and AI and advanced analytics to help meet sustainability goals at Rio Tinto sites and throughout its supply chain.
Further, Rio Tinto’s START traceability and transparency initiative, the first sustainability label for aluminium using blockchain technology, will be deployed with Schneider Electric to unlock value for customers, suppliers and partners.
The companies will work to expand this transparency, offering START in combination with Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure platform, an Internet of Things system architecture that connects everything in an enterprise, from the shop floor to the top floor, to deliver enhanced safety, reliability, efficiency and sustainability.
The companies will also partner to evaluate emerging innovation opportunities, such as the efficient production of critical materials for renewable technologies and advances in low-carbon, green steel manufacturing, both of which will play a significant long-term role in industrial decarbonisation, Barrios concludes.