3 Steps for More Sustainability in Manufacturing

Sustainable manufacturing
Marcus Bluhm
Marcus Bluhm
July 14, 2021
7 minutes
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What role IoT manufacturing – the use of the Internet of Things in industrial manufacturing  –  will play in reaching both your economic and environmental sustainability goals? Read on and find out!

By setting free the power of IoT, we will be able to transform our economy – making the way we produce more efficient and sustainable and helping economies reach their ambitious decarbonization goals. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) plays an important role in this context as it acts as a key enabler for sustainable manufacturing, ensuring economic efficiency as well as helping to reach extensive environmental goals.

With the following examples, we hope to give you one or the other inspiration on how you can actually make your manufacturing process more sustainable.

 

1. Preparation is everything: What drives sustainable manufacturing?

In a world of ongoing change and new challenges around every corner, it is crucial for innovators to always stay one step ahead. What is society concerned with? How are investors and markets adopting to new circumstances? How can I prepare my business for the next big transformation? And how can I prepare for the next digital disruption?

With climate change and scarcity of resources knocking on our doors, there is ample motivation to take action. So let´s explore the issue of sustainability in manufacturing and why it matters for seminal businesses!

 

React to growing awareness

In recent years, a growing awareness on the environmental impact of our economy can be seen in both public and economic arenas. Especially in the manufacturing world, it becomes clear that due to massive decarbonization goals and limited natural resources, continuing to manufacture in an unsustainable way can only go on for so long. This could particularly affect traditional companies that do not convert to sustainable manufacturing processes, as they run the risk of falling out of favor with public opinion and by that lose the high degree of trust with customers they have built up over many years.

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Businesses unwilling to shift to more sustainable manufacturing processes are likely to be left behind.

Marcus Bluhm

Be prepared for policy initiatives

In addition, Green New Deal initiatives in both Europe and North America will increase the responsibility on all businesses to adopt more sustainability in manufacturing. Supranational decarbonization guidelines are paired with concrete growth and innovation strategies, making businesses that adopt sustainable ways of producing more attractive towards investors and markets. At the same time, businesses unwilling to shift to more sustainable manufacturing processes are likely to be left behind. So be prepared for governmental restrictions and face them as a chance for innovative smart manufacturing processes.

 

Make your business future-proof

We have now learned that businesses simply cannot turn their heads when it comes to improving sustainability in manufacturing processes. It is a chance to react to the growing environmental awareness of clients and public, contribute to supranational decarbonization goals, and meet new demands of investors and markets. It is also a chance to gain a competitive edge when incorporating smart manufacturing solutions to reach these goals. Why? Let´s find out!

2. Making manufacturing smarter and more sustainable with the power of IoT

In their 2018 report into IoT manufacturing, the World Economic Forum not only found that the inter-connectedness of manufacturing processes and plants would add some $14 trillion of value to the global economy by 2030 – IoT solutions will also act as key drivers for sustainability in manufacturing as well over four-fifths of IoT deployments in industry are currently addressing, or have the potential to address sustainability goals as set out by the United Nations.

With these promising numbers in mind, let´s explore three steps to increase sustainability in manufacturing by using the power of IoT. As already stated, we are aware of the simplification of the concepts presented in the following. However, we would assume they may be the starting point into your personal sustainable manufacturing journey.

 

Step 1: Use your data wisely

First of all, you can start treating your data as one of the most valuable resources you have. The main benefit of using IoT and IIoT for sustainable manufacturing lays in collecting exactly this data in order to work with it. Use a thought out, vertically integrated IoT solution including software, automation, and sensors to easily connect, monitor, and analyze your entire manufacturing process. Now you can start to measure, compare, and analyze your current input in order to improve your output, making it more efficient - and greener. Digital Twins of your production and your products may help to run what/if scenarios and decide for the optimum process combining economic and environmental sustainability.

Step 2: Use your energy wisely

In 2018, 37% of global energy use could be traced back to the industrial sector. Looking at the enormous challenges in front of us, it becomes clear that energy efficiency in industrial manufacturing will play a major role when reaching ambitious sustainability goals. IoT-based solutions can help manufacturers optimize their entire energy system, transforming it to become both more efficient and sustainable. As already mentioned, one of the prime advantages of IoT manufacturing is the real-time collection and processing of data. By connecting, monitoring, and comparing this set of information, you can easily identify irregularities and patterns that make your manufacturing process waste or lose energy – and take suitable measures right away. For example, intelligent devices and sensors on machines can independently recognize when they are needed, helping to prevent over- or underuse, and by that, saving energy and actively reducing your environmental footprint.

Step 3: Use your other resources wisely

A thought out IoT manufacturing solution will help connect, share, and analyze all the data running your production process and by that, will help you use your given resources more wisely. By knowing exactly the right number of resources – your raw materials, commodities, and construction materials – you can start using what you have more mindfully. Cutting down on the use of fluids, especially oil and water, is just one sustainable manufacturing example that can be expanded to include many more. Let your IoT solution help you decide which materials or spare parts to use, how to reduce over- or underproduction, or how to reuse resources or waste. This not only means less consumption, it will also run hand-in-hand with longer lifespans for production equipment and tools and make your production line leaner and more productive. Sustainable usage of resources also spans the complete product lifecycle, starting with product design over product operations until decomposition of the product and the recycling of its parts in a circular economy.

 

 

 

 

Manufacturing sustainably

Introducing IoT into our economy also allows us to make it future proof by reacting to new societal and political requirements while also securing economic growth.

Marcus Bluhm

3. IoT manufacturing for Economic and Environmental Sustainability

There is no doubt that great challenges lay ahead of us. Complex tasks require bold and innovative solutions. This is where IoT steps in. We have already witnessed how the Internet of Things helps us embrace and shape change. Now, we can incorporate IoT manufacturing solutions, in order to transform the way we produce in many ways, making our manufacturing process smarter, more sustainable, and compatible with ambitious and necessary decarbonization goals.

Smart manufacturing solutions thereby deliver the concrete technology to do so, resulting in various sustainable manufacturing examples, like the mindful and economical use of valuable resources like material, energy, or water. Introducing IoT into our economy also allows us to make it future proof by reacting to new societal and political requirements while also securing economic growth.

Now it´s time to face the challenges ahead of us. Luckily, we have just the right toolset to do so. So let´s embrace digital transformation, unlocking the full potential of IoT and reach true sustainability in manufacturing.

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Marcus Bluhm
Marcus Bluhm
Solution Partner for Commercial Industries EMEA
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