How to Make Your Manufacturing Business More Sustainable — Green Manufacturing — Through Smart Manufacturing

Jun 13, 2023 8:00:00 AM / by ThinkIQ

As the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent, sustainability (green manufacturing) has become a key concern for manufacturers worldwide. This places manufacturers under pressure to reduce their environmental impact. But how can we achieve sustainable green manufacturing while also maintaining a sustainable business model? The answer lies in smart manufacturing.

Understanding Green Manufacturing

Green manufacturing is a philosophy that focuses on minimizing waste, improving energy efficiency, and reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing processes. It involves making conscious choices about the materials used, the manufacturing processes employed, and the waste management strategies implemented.

Industries globally are adopting goals of becoming carbon neutral. They’re also recognizing the positive financial impact of green manufacturing waste reduction and potential efficiencies related to energy use and sourcing.

For example, manufacturing energy transformation initiatives center on solutions that capture, contextualize and analyze energy consumption, carbon emissions and waste within the walls of the factory as well as across the supply chain. This data supports an organization’s decarbonization efforts, while also helping create a more sustainable business model overall.

Also of particular note — the US SEC is likely to enact rules that enhance and standardize climate-related disclosures, so information on energy usage throughout your supply chain will need to be acquired, one way or another.

To spur these decarbonization efforts the U.S. Department of Energys (DOE) published theirIndustrial Decarbonization Roadmap.” This roadmap identifies four key pathways to reduce industrial emissions through manufacturing innovation. It says, in part:
Energy efficiency: This pillar offers the greatest opportunities for near-term decarbonization solutions. In many cases, it does not require major changes to industrial processes and can bring immediate reductions in emissions. Key energy efficiency goals include improvements in system efficiencies, process yield, and recovery of thermal energy; expansion of energy management practices; and increased implementation of smart manufacturing strategies designed to reduce energy consumption.”

But green manufacturing is not just about being environmentally responsible or government compliance. It offers significant benefits to manufacturers, including cost savings, improved operational efficiency, and enhanced brand reputation. By adopting green manufacturing practices, manufacturers can not only contribute to environmental conservation, but also improve their bottom line.

Smart Manufacturing Supports Green Manufacturing 

Smart manufacturing technologies play a crucial role in driving sustainability in manufacturing. Technologies such as ThinkIQ's Transformational Intelligence platform can capture, contextualize, and analyze data related to energy consumption, carbon emissions, and waste. This provides manufacturers with the insights they need to identify opportunities for reducing their environmental impact.

For example, ThinkIQ's platform provides a granular and highly contextualized view of data across time and the extended supply chain to identify trends and anomalies. The ThinkIQ processing engine includes a semantic model, vision pipeline, material ledger, and next-gen historian that provides data visualizations, material flow explorer, product traceability, and data analysis to support decarbonization, energy, and waste compliance reporting requirements.

By analyzing energy consumption data, manufacturers can identify energy-intensive processes and take steps to make them more energy-efficient. Similarly, by analyzing waste data, manufacturers can identify sources of waste and implement strategies to reduce them. Moreover, smart manufacturing technologies can help manufacturers comply with decarbonization, energy, and waste reporting requirements. By providing a granular and highly contextualized view of data over time, these technologies enable manufacturers to track their progress towards their sustainability goals and demonstrate compliance with environmental regulations.

Practical Steps Toward A More Sustainable Business 

So, how can manufacturers leverage smart manufacturing to make their business more sustainable? Here are some practical steps:

  1. Begin to implement aspects of the DOE's Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap: The roadmap identifies four key pillars of industrial decarbonization: energy efficiency; industrial electrification; low-carbon fuels, feedstocks, and energy sources (LCFFES); and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). Manufacturers should pursue all four pillars in parallel to achieve a cohesive decarbonization strategy.
  2. Implement energy-efficient technologies: Energy-efficient technologies, such as energy-efficient motors and lighting, can significantly reduce energy consumption in manufacturing facilities. As the U.S. Department of Energys (DOE) Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap states, "Energy efficiency offers the greatest opportunities for near-term decarbonization solutions. In many cases, it does not require major changes to industrial processes and can bring immediate reductions in emissions.” In addition, data on energy usage over time and correlated to production processes can be analyzed via AI and ML to deliver further savings.
  3. Optimize production processes: By optimizing production processes, manufacturers can reduce waste and improve resource efficiency. This can be achieved through a variety of techniques, including implementation of smart manufacturing pillars.
  4. Use data analytics: Data analytics can provide valuable insights into energy consumption, waste generation, carbon output across your supply chain, and other environmental aspects of manufacturing. By analyzing this data, manufacturers can identify opportunities for improvement and make informed decisions about their sustainability strategies.
  5. Implement smart manufacturing strategies: As the DOE's roadmap highlights, "increased implementation of smart manufacturing strategies designed to reduce energy consumption" is a key energy efficiency goal. Smart manufacturing technologies, such as ThinkIQ's Transformational Intelligence platform, can provide the data insights needed to implement these strategies.

By following these steps, manufacturers can not only reduce their environmental impact, and comply with reporting requirements, they can also create a more sustainable business overall.

It’s clear that sustainability is not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have. By leveraging smart manufacturing technologies, manufacturers can drive sustainability in their business, reduce their environmental impact, and achieve their sustainability goals.

Ready to make your manufacturing business more sustainable? Explore how ThinkIQ's Transformational Intelligence platform can help. Get our free ebook on the 5 stages necessary to achieve Smart Manufacturing status now.


Free Smart Factory eBook

Tags: SMART Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, green manufacturing


Written by ThinkIQ

Think IQ

The Industry 4.0 Data Revolution

Proven to improve manufacturing yield, safety, quality, and compliance by making sense of your data.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Tag

See all

Recent Posts