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Sustainability in manufacturing cannot be achieved without effective technology

The title of a May 2022 Forbes article succinctly sums up the status of sustainability in the manufacturing sector:

“Sustainability In The Manufacturing Industry Is A Work In Process.”

That title has a double meaning. The sustainable journey the (process) industry is on is in full swing. Until now, sustainability for industrial companies has focused mainly on compliance with regulations and environmental standards and demonstrating them. Neatly show that you are compliant.

Sustainability as a business necessity

But “comply” is no longer enough, as that is far from the ideal of sustainability as part of the circular economy. Reuse as much as possible, recycle and produce new only when there is no viable alternative. And in that regard, there is still a long way to go. In which, for now, manufacturers reasonably argue that there are considerable headwinds from supply chain pressures to global socioeconomic turmoil and recovery after COVID.

Yet sustainability becomes so intertwined with existing key business factors such as cost management and customer behavior that it is no longer about idealism or doing the right thing, but simply about business necessity.

Cost efficiency, strong customer relationships and effective employee and stakeholder engagement are increasingly intertwined with sustainability.

Our E-book discusses the drivers of sustainability in the manufacturing sector, the challenges and opportunities they present, and how they can be managed.

Why is effective use of technology the key to sustainable production?

Sustainability in manufacturing must be embedded in core processes. Because these processes increasingly rely on technology for execution, management and reporting, technology plays an essential role.

Effective use of technology to produce more sustainably depends on a number of factors. First, just common sense thanks to understanding the capabilities and limitations of the technology and the data you can and want to extract from it.

It starts with the dates

Modern manufacturing IT systems provide a rich collection of real-time data and reports that are the starting point for building sustainability into production.

The SAP Sustainability Control Tower brings together a range of key sustainability data on a single platform, while extracting valuable insights by evaluating data directly from ERP platforms and other production systems.

Whatever data sources you use, it is important to gather as complete a set of information as possible, understand its context and apply practical intelligence to it. Once a meaningful set of baseline data is established, you can use it to set realistic sustainability goals, plan actions, track and adjust progress.

Sustainable profit is business profit

Most technology-based sustainability initiatives deliver tangible business benefits. After all, many applications of technology to improve business efficiency also increase sustainability. So it is important to identify the business benefits of using technology to improve sustainability and vice versa.

Using technology to enable a paperless warehouse, for example, is one such widely recognized desirable business outcome. Working paperless provides significant benefits in terms of cost efficiency, flexibility and environmental benefits. Innovations such as Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and additive manufacturing, also help reduce operating costs and streamline processes, and so you can look at them from a sustainability perspective. Whether it is reducing energy bills through IoT-based smart buildings, or shortening supply chains and reducing waste with Additive Manufacturing, there is always a sustainability benefit.

How Quinso delivers value to sustainability in the manufacturing sector

Quinso is a boutique consultancy specializing in sustainable supply chain solutions. We don’t just transform supply chains, we go further: from business consulting to implementation. As a member of the ORBIS family, Quinso offers the full suite of SAP solutions.

Backed by our extensive SAP expertise, we help organizations use technology to achieve efficient and sustainable business processes that make a difference now and in the future. To learn more about how Quinso and technology can support you on your sustainability journey, visit us at https://www.quinso.com/duurzaamheid or download our Ebook.