Big companies are paving the way to greener operations. To solidify their commitment, they pledged their respective sustainability goals, which they are to achieve by 2025. Others would call it a circular economy, wherein exhausted resources are replenished just as much.
And, some of these companies have demonstrated big strides since with the innovation of packaging made of fully recycled materials and funding farm tenants to be trained on sustainable farming practices. Years back, we wouldn’t have thought all these were possible, but their feats show how taking the baby steps now should never be undermined. As cliche as it sounds, if there’s a will, there’s a way. Here’s how you can gear toward sustainable manufacturing too:
Efficient Energy Use
For centuries, factories ran on fossil fuels and this non-renewable resource is running out. Manufacturing industries can no longer delay their response The excuse of having limited access to alternative renewable sources proves to be no longer valid.
If acquiring technology to store and use renewable energy, like those generated by wind or sunlight, is still not a feasible option for your company, it’s best to start by assessing your current energy usage throughout the entire production cycle. For sure, you would be able to detect not only value-reducing aspects but also those that waste a great deal of energy on an aggregate basis.
Reducing energy usage could be a challenge for a team that’s been acclimated to performing their tasks while operating equipment the way they are used to, but repetition is key. Set energy use reduction as one of your key performance indicators and instill in the workforce the practice of turning off machines when not in use. You can also opt for more energy-efficient oilless compressors or servo drives to operate your equipment, which would most likely speed up your production, hence, reducing your operational costs too.
Also, look into how utilities such as lighting and ventilation could be made more energy-efficient. LED lighting is proven to have a lower wattage and yet delivers impressive brightness and longevity. LED bulbs are also significantly cheaper and more low-maintenance than incandescent or halogen bulbs, which guarantees you lifetime savings. You may also want to consider converting to inverter air conditioning units, which use up less power and are, therefore, more eco-friendly than conventional ACs.
To curb waste is to preserve resources. The ideal business model optimizes resources such as raw materials, energy, time, machine run time, and human capital as this guarantees profits. But these times when nature is in dire need of restoration, companies have to think beyond profitability. Today, reducing waste is more than just being thrifty with the use of these resources.
Instead, they should be more concerned about how things will pan out if they keep up with their environmentally destructive practices. They should devise ways to prevent their non-biodegradable materials and toxic wastes from ending up in the ocean or landfills, that’s if they cannot yet transition to biodegradable ones.
If you cut out raw materials such as paper, plastic, or metal sheets with precision molds or peel fresh produce for your production, know that upcycling rather than disposing of scrap material is always a good option. This is when the role of your R&D will come in handy. Either develop new marketable product lines, convert byproducts into fuel, or even reprocess them into product packaging.
You will bump into doubtful moments and it may not work at first, but think of how much you will save on costs and how much you will reduce your carbon footprint if you take that leap of faith and get the team to adjust to these rather small changes.
Constantly revisit your processes even if they have been tried and tested for years and it seems they are not bound to fail. Chances are you will find pockets of deficiencies and these are not necessarily in the form of old equipment. It could be multiple people performing a task that could be efficiently handled by just one, bottlenecks during peak periods that could be better anticipated and managed, and redundancy in production steps that could be simplified by standardizing checks and balances before proceeding to the next steps.
For many years, the environment has had to take the toll of backward practices among factories. Today, we are witnessing the devastating effects which press for real action. A collective one at that is the only possible way we can save the planet and keep all of its occupants safe.