Sustainability in manufacturing
16 February 2023
Chris Stock, Inforlogic, looks at what sustainability means in discrete manufacturing, and asks how digital platforms such as Infor CloudSuite Industrial can help achieve green goals while simultaneously delivering profitability.
The sustainability agenda is redefining manufacturing. According to a recent report (IPCC), manufacturers account for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this, alongside waste reduction, is one of the biggest environmental priorities.
Against this backdrop, the need to be greener is forcing manufacturers to reframe the way in which products are created, change processes, minimise waste and energy, and reduce the environmental impact of production.
However, there is an enormous amount of greenwash surrounding the topic.
This is largely because, in the absence of a common definition of what sustainable manufacturing means, and no framework from which to benchmark and measure performance improvement, many organisations are unsure of where to start.
As a result, sentiment, initiatives and results vary substantially from one organisation to another. While many are at the very start of their journey, initiatives to drive genuine and tangible improvements are well underway in others.
Our own customers echo this picture, with discrete manufacturing in particular grappling with the myriad of avenues and variables involved in reducing waste and emissions, with a view to improving sustainability.
The good news is that the right digital infrastructure can expedite much of the legwork necessary in benchmarking and understanding ways in which to drive out waste, minimise energy usage and tighten manufacturing processes.
And let’s not forget that sustainability is often synonymous with cost cutting.
By investing in a modern ERP which integrates data from across the organisation to foster consistency and collaboration, discrete manufacturers can make smarter use of resources.
A modern, cloud-based ERP delivers intelligent insights, visibility and a single source of the truth from which to understand a manufacturer’s current sustainability profile, and inform decisions on how to make improvements.
For those embracing the principles of Industry 4.0, additional insights via sensors can deepen the level of analytics available to fine tune performance and expedite green gains.
This improved means of capturing data can represent a stronger context for decision-making, and provide insights at the time of need.
This single source of truth can also support collaboration with partners and suppliers across the supply chain, and generate wider efforts to tackle some of the challenges, particularly when it comes to transportation.
These relationships can then generate bigger change AI-driven forecasting and analysis which not only support sustainability, but do this while enhancing CX, capitalising on new opportunities and expanding market share.
Those winning when it comes to sustainability are those designing transformational-led digital strategies which prioritise areas with the greatest potential for benefit and follow an incremental pathway to unlock quick wins and generate confidence along the way.
Sustainability started out as a compliance exercise and a need to adopt best practices. Now it has become a strategic imperative, a prerequisite of business, and a source of competitive advantage.
Customers are becoming increasingly less tolerant of unethical practices and buying from companies whose values are distinct from their own, and as such, sustainability has become intrinsic to CX. There are no easy answers, particularly in light of the current unpredictable, high inflationary macro-economic landscape. However, by starting small and scaling over time, quick wins can be gained, which builds momentum and confidence for the bigger challenges which lay ahead.
For more information on how the Inforlogic support team can help you achieve your digital transformation goals, get in touch or call the team on 01606 720499.