How can Sustainable Manufacturing be Economical?
Published on : Friday 09-12-2022
There are numerous ways to make manufacturing more sustainable and profitable, says Guruprasad Bangle.
Global climate change is among the most pressing issues in the process of industrialisation and economic growth. Manufacturing has a significant impact on both economic and sustainability issues because it is a major source of GHG and other pollutants. The key question is whether we can pursue industrial expansion while still being conscious of how production affects the environment negatively.
The process of green manufacturing holds the key to achieving long-term sustainability and safeguarding the planet from perils posed by climate change. To reduce industrial influence on climate change and other environmental issues, green manufacturing focuses on altering business and production methods as well as stakeholders' mindsets. It is not merely a catchy buzzword. Through tangible ways manufacturers can promote sustainable practices within their production facilities, throughout the supply chain, and among their customer base. We need to standardise the production processes and products if we want to minimise the negative environmental effects.
Green manufacturing also results in wise financial choices. Recent UN research states that CO2 emissions must be cut in half by 2030. The realisation of this aim will be largely dependent on green and sustainable manufacturing as India embarks on an ambitious development plan. Green manufacturing lowers waste, encourages safe production, and minimises its impact on the environment by using green energy sources like non-fossil or renewable energy. Nowadays, green practices are more than simply "good to have." They are a "must-have" since investors take into account both a company's financial standing and its long-term performance.
Green manufacturing can be incorporated by businesses in a number of ways. They can create and market eco-friendly goods or implement production techniques that minimise waste, emissions, and pollution while putting an emphasis on recycling and reusing.
How manufacturing impacts environment
Polluting industries in the manufacturing sector are becoming more common in lower- and middle-income countries, in part because of trade globalisation, low labor costs, and the adoption of Western lifestyles. However, many of these countries significantly lack the resources needed to implement cleaner manufacturing methods as well as protection for the environment and public health.
As a result, there has been an increase in chronic disorders linked to pollution, such as asthma, heart disease, and strokes. The general public's health is also impacted by industrial pollution since it contaminates the air, drinking water, soil, crops, cattle, fish, and other resources.
Last but not least, it has been observed that climate change magnifies the effects of pollutant exposure in developing countries by raising the concentrations of many chemicals in water, air, and soil, increasing the sensitivity of crops and vegetation as well as humans to the negative effects of industrial pollution.
Methodologies to make sustainable manufacturing economical
Adaptability via digital transformation
As a major energy consumer and the source of more than 25% of the world's CO2 emissions, industry must play a key role in promoting economic recovery while making sustainability a top priority for its operations. Industry should accelerate its use of digital transformation to reshape our world toward a new norm. Digital transformation is frequently used to boost productivity, but it also works well to achieve both economic and environmental resilience.
Industry leaders must enable operational efficiency, use renewable energy, adopt life cycle thinking, and encourage supply chain data openness in order to take advantage of the confluence of Industry 4.0 and ESG goals.
Boost operational effectiveness
The majority of production facilities are inactive players in the world's energy supply chain. They keep an eye on total energy use and the costs related to the sources that are available, but frequently ignore the operationally controllable aspects that allow for effective consumption management that benefits the company.
"A fast pick-up in efficiency improvements is the single most essential factor that pushes the world towards the Sustainable Development Scenario," highlights International Energy Agency (IEA) in its 2019 World Energy Outlook.
Manufacturers must assess and optimise each of their operations' energy-intensive processes by tracking and measuring the equipment, lines, and process units that use energy, and then managing total consumption, economics, and emissions.
Making use of renewable energy
Manufacturing is an energy-consuming operation. Utilising renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, can help them limit their influence on the environment while also easing the burden on the energy supply.
Increasing energy efficiency
Organisations can improve their processes using technology to lower the amount of energy required for product manufacturing in addition to changing their energy source.
Raw material substitution
Making the switch to alternate raw materials can significantly lower CO2 emissions. For instance, the decarbonisation of limestone during the process of converting it into lime is responsible for 60% of the emissions produced by the cement industry. Utilising substitute raw materials that are generated as waste in other industries can help minimise CO2 emissions during the cement manufacturing process. Ash could be used instead of limestone to reduce CO2 emissions. The circular economy may benefit from this as well.
Promote supply chain data transparency
There are several inefficiencies and opportunities to drastically cut waste throughout the global supply chain.
One strategy for creating a more integrated and sustainable industrial system is industrial symbiosis. By creating a network, it allows resources from one process—such as materials, energy, water, ability, knowledge, or assets—to be used as resources in another.
Going beyond the conventional focus on internal operations and expanding to new business and business alliances across the supply chain is necessary to develop global industrial symbiotic linkages. These mutually beneficial communities form a network of many organisations that support eco-innovation and long-term cultural transformation.
There are numerous ways to make manufacturing more sustainable and profitable. All with the above, basing decisions on a future-focused mindset by practicing life cycle thinking and Triple bottom line reporting (profit, people and planet) can go a long way toward stepping into sustainability.
Guruprasad Bangle, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, SolutionBuggy, has about 18 years of IT Consulting experience in US, UK and Italy in companies such as Accenture and IBM. He did his one-year full time executive MBA at IIM Bangalore and cofounded Properji – a real estate data analytics platform along with Priya Maheshwari. The company was acquired by MagicBricks in 2016 and post that Guruprasad joined SolutionBuggy as a Director in 2017.