With the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, businesses across the United States have started to identify ways to improve and remove carbon emissions for a successful de-carbonization transformation.
One of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions happens to be the manufacturing industry, due to the industry’s energy-intensive processes, which account for almost a quarter (23%) of direct carbon emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In this article, eight ways to use the right technology and machinery are explored and identified as key to helping manufacturing organizations track sustainability goals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and also save money in the long run.
Invest in Quality Machine Parts
Many manufacturers may choose less-expensive equipment and components to reduce large upfront costs, but this can result in higher, longer-term costs. Less-expensive machinery uses cheaper equipment and parts, which won’t provide the same durability as products of higher quality, requiring more frequent replacement. Continually replacing pieces or parts creates more waste, which negatively affects the environment.
Consider the Equipment’s Energy Requirements
Machines and parts that use fossil fuels are among the main causes of climate change. While the upfront cost to transition to a different energy source may be higher, companies can save money by switching to renewable energy-powered equipment. They will also be able to significantly lower carbon emissions.
Maintain Equipment Efficiently
An often overlooked area of sustainability is maintaining equipment efficiency. One of the best ways to extend the life of manufacturing equipment is regularly scheduled maintenance. Equipment maintenance will vary based on the machinery itself, but generally, maintenance is straightforward. Setting up processes for qualified technicians to regularly review machinery is essential for machinery to operate sustainably.
Prevent Energy-Wasting Leaks
One of the most common energy-wasting problems with manufacturing equipment is leakages. Checking for leaks is recommended and will spot any leaks before they become a bigger concern. For example, using the right type of seal on cylinder parts will help prevent leakages in the long run.
Digital sustainability is the practice of using digital technologies to minimize the negative environmental impact associated with paper. Investing in software and online platforms for various business improvements, such as KPI tracking, health and safety, production planning, procurement, stock control, HR, and more will save energy in reducing printed materials, as well as improve efficiencies.
Embed Sustainability into the Supply Chain
Many organizations have begun to address the sustainability of business practices and take measures to reduce carbon emissions. But can the same be said about suppliers? If the suppliers aren’t sourcing sustainable machinery and raw materials, they can still indirectly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Many businesses are now including sustainability as a key requirement in their procurement process, with others reviewing their suppliers based on their eco credentials. A brand’s sustainability credentials are more important than ever, with research showing customers are actively seeking out companies that are environmentally friendly.
Manufacturers can lower the carbon emissions in the production chain by remanufacturing materials with limited supply, such as steel. This involves reclaiming used materials that can be utilized in future manufacturing operations, like steel and other metals. This practice is relatively common in the automotive industry, where components such as engines, steering systems, and transmissions are regularly remanufactured.
Get Involved in Environmentally Friendly Projects
The world’s biggest and most successful companies are carrying out initiatives that support environmental causes, something every company can participate in. Whether it’s through a financial contribution or a company-wide effort to participate and help with tasks, there’s always something that can be done for the environment. Businesses should think of what they can do to implement eco-friendly initiatives and rewards, both within the company and externally, such as local support.
Patagonia’s founder recently gave the company away to fight climate change and advance conservation. The corporation’s profits will now fund efforts to deal with climate change, as well as protect wilderness areas. Not every company has to go as far as Patagonia, but businesses are realizing the increasing need to improve sustainability credentials and strive to be more environmentally friendly.
Lundestedt, Martin. From remanufacturing to recycling: how manufacturing can raise the bar on global climate goals. World Economic Forum. June 14, 2021. (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/06/manufacturing-industry-climate-change-goals/#:~:text=of%20greenhouse%20gases.-,In%20the%20US%2C%20manufacturing%20accounts%20for%20almost%20a%20quarter%20(23,to%20the%20Environmental%20Protection%20Agency).