21 Sep

Smart Manufacturing: It's Not Only Productive, It's Sustainable

Production monitoring technology can serve as a crucial catalyst for manufacturers embarking on their ESG journey.

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Smart Manufacturing: It's Not Only Productive, It's Sustainable

Environmental, social, and corporate governance, (ESG) initiatives are gaining momentum globally. Companies are being held to a higher standard to be more socially conscious and environmentally friendly. In fact, today many consumers and customers are evaluating and selecting manufacturers, service providers, and suppliers based on their ESG score.

While today’s social and environmental movements impact all businesses and organizations, manufacturers are starting to feel the brunt of compliance. As a result, sustainability is quickly becoming a strategic business driver. By transforming sustainability metrics into actionable information, today’s manufacturing technology allows companies to leverage the data toward production goals, environmental initiatives, supply chain optimization, and higher profit margins.

Smart Manufacturing Technology

When thinking of Smart Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, or the Industrial Internet of Things, one typically thinks in terms of automation, productivity, and operational efficiency. While this is certainly the case, smart manufacturing technology brings with it the added benefit of measuring variables associated with the resources and consumption that go into the manufacturing process. This includes energy, water, waste, and more. Because sustainability is largely measured at plant levels this ability to correlate sustainability metrics directly to a specific plant or line offers significant advantages. From a broader standpoint, it allows manufacturers to:

  • Increase operational efficiency through cost and waste reduction
  • Respond to or reach new customers and increase competitive edge
  • Protect and strengthen brand reputation by gaining public trust
  • Build long-term business viability and success
  • Respond to regulatory constraints and opportunities

We’ve seen how smart manufacturing technology is allowing manufacturers to be more efficient and productive, now it’s making sustainability measurable and actionable.

Technology at Work

Regardless of location, type, industry, or size, ESG is on the minds of all manufacturers. Fortunately, smart technology could not be maturing at a better time. And today even the most sophisticated of these tools are becoming increasingly affordable and versatile. This is ideal for small to mid-size manufacturers who don’t have the same deep pockets as many global enterprises.

ESG aside, adopting smart manufacturing technology is more than a good idea, it is quickly becoming critical to survive in today’s volatile manufacturing landscape. Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering & Director of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Institute for Manufacturing Systems, Dr. Satish Bukkapatnam emphasized the importance for companies of all sizes to adopt smart manufacturing.  

“If small and medium companies don’t adapt, they will be at a great disadvantage. There will be a digital divide between businesses who have advanced capabilities and others who don’t. Smart manufacturing helps the industry create a level playing field where large companies can thrive and SMEs who are given digital resources are not left behind.”

Here are some examples where technology is having a profound impact on manufacturing sustainability.

Simulation/Digital Twins: Digital Twins allow manufacturers to replicate equipment digitally. Driven by operating data collected from the actual machine, the computer model can be put through its paces to predict, among other things, maintenance requirements.

However, as detailed in this article from the World Economic Forum, manufacturers are not only using the technology to improve production but to also advance sustainability initiatives. The article cites the example of an LG Electronics factory that transformed its assembly line visual simulation tool into a digital twin. As a result, they improved productivity by 17%, product quality by 70%, and reduced energy consumption by 30%.

Process Monitoring: The monitoring of production equipment is another area of smart manufacturing that is making a measurable impact. Leveraging smart digital technologies, production monitoring tracks manufacturing processes to collect and analyze operating data. This information is being widely used to improve production, react to unanticipated downtime, address underperformance, and formulate longer-term strategic planning goals.

Production equipment monitoring captures a wide range of data including sustainability. Now manufacturers have the data they need to understand the impact of their processes and initiatives right down to the machine level. This ability to measure with confidence is critical to improving the ESG scorecard.

Where to begin?

Replacing subjective guesswork with detailed information and accurate metrics allows manufacturers to assess performance and make informed decisions related to production, sustainability, and other corporate improvement initiatives such as safety. But for many, the question is where to begin.

As an objective third-party, Worximity brings to bear years of practical manufacturing experience to understand the unique equipment, processes, and key performance indicators (KPIs) of each customer. Next equipment is instrumented to measure performance (including up-time, unplanned downtime, throughput, waste, and product quality) against stated KPIs. Finally, manufacturing data is analyzed to help identify the root cause of any issues and corrective action is recommended.

Manufacturers are under siege from all directions. They are understaffed, have an unreliable supply chain, management is looking for ways to increase productivity, and investors are demanding higher profitability. And now they can add improving ESG scores to the list.  

Worximity is the leading authority on production monitoring. Our smart manufacturing technology is at work within manufacturing facilities across North America to improve production efficiency, optimize equipment investments, and advance sustainability goals.

To learn more about how smart manufacturing can impact your business, contact us to see a demo of our production monitoring technology.

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