Datawright consider the environmental impact of digital transformation in Manufacturing

A blog from Barry Thompson, Customer Account Manager at Datawright…

The very nature of manufacturing means that waste is a real issue. Whether it’s energy bi-products emitted by machinery or offcuts of materials used in the manufacturing process, minimising wastage is a priority for every manufacturer and not just in terms of cost.

While the financial implications will naturally be a key driver in manufacturers going greener, a growing number of customers want to work with companies with a strong social responsibility commitment. This means that achieving efficiencies within your business to minimise the eventual impact to the environment could secure you a competitive edge. The question is; how do you do it?

In this blog post, I will discuss some of the key moves manufacturers can make by harnessing the power of technology to reduce wastage in their business.

An effective ERP system

If I asked you how much waste your business was currently producing, would be you be able to give me an honest answer? An answer that hasn’t just been plucked out of the air? Shockingly, some key decision-makers don’t have visibility of their business’ wastage — or many other processes for that matter.

As your business grows, it’s difficult to maintain the same level of control over your processes as you did when the business was smaller. Things can slip through the net, but thankfully, implementing an effective ERP system can help you regain control.

If you’re regularly ordering materials that you don’t need or use, you’re essentially shaving money off your bottom line. Likewise, if you’re holing stock away in your warehouse that will remain unsold, you’re wasting both valuable space and resources. With ERP software, you can clearly see how much material you currently have and how much you’ll need based on placed and future orders.

By gaining greater visibility, an ERP system, amongst other benefits, allows manufacturers to maximise yields from the materials they use, minimising the amount that goes to waste and the money that is lost as a result. This has a positive effect on the environment, while also making the entire manufacturing cycle more efficient.

Implementing the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly revolutionising how we live on a day-to-day basis — including manufacturing. IoT involves making modifications to machinery to make them internet-connected devices. Okay great, but how does digital transformation in manufacturing relate to going greener?

One of the most attractive benefits of IoT is the efficiencies it can drive. Take our work withArlington Automotive for example. We implemented an IoT solution that allowed real-time performance data to be collected from two presses. The end result was a 16% increase in productivity.

Following our work, the machines themselves were able to deliver greater results without increasing effort or resources. Such efficiencies means manufacturing process are accelerated, reducing a manufacturer’s total energy consumption.

Similar benefits have been experienced across industries. For example, one article by The Manufacturer details how power plants have benefited from their investment into IoT, resulting in 27% lower production costs and a £15.6 million saving on average each year. This underlines how investing in digital can not only provide a financial advantage, but also drive forward green operations in manufacturing and beyond.

Consider the other areas of your business

As manufacturers, it’s very easy to focus specifically on driving efficiencies around the actual manufacturing process. Often, we can forget that it’s our entire business that has an impact on the environment, not just a few specific processes.

For example, are you still heavily reliant on your printer? Do you still send written communications that could potentially be replaced by paperless emails? When trying to establish more environmentally practices, it’s important to consider your manufacturing business as a whole.

Switching to a paperless payroll and making greater use of all of the features of your ERP system can help minimise the volume of resources your business uses, helping to drive efficiencies business-wide.

As the government strives to increase environmentally friendly practices, it’s a waiting game until implementing greener practices are no longer optional. By acting now and improving their commitment to the environment, manufacturers can gain both a financial and reputational advantage — an invaluable benefit in an increasingly competitive and cost-driven market.

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