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Examining the future of manufacturing to meet sustainability requirements

Reading time: 23 minutes

Manufacturing will play an important role in making products more sustainable. The role of manufacturing begins in the design of product to synchronize capabilities and features, but continues through the end of a product’s life and how it can be decommissioning sustainably. This paper walks through the lifecycle of a product to examine points for improving Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions.

A new business driver

The traditional business drivers of speed, quality and cost have worked well to grow many industries, but it has done so at cost to people and planet. Reversing that debt will require the fourth driver – sustainability. Manufacturing sits at the center of this change, not just because it is used to make the sustainable products of tomorrow. Manufacturing must communicate with:

  • Design
  • Production planning
  • System operations
  • Logistics
  • Product decommissioning

Each of these phases of the product lifecycle must be optimized to make manufacturing as sustainable as possible, for the environment, society, governments, and the businesses.

Digital development is the answer

Establishing a sustainably manufacturing process is not a trivial task, it requires insight across a variety of domains and even regions around the world. Collection and analysis are best done with a digital twin for manufacturing, it provides the connection points for the data to make actionable decisions. Every kilowatt of electricity cut from the floor requirements is both money saved and a reduction in Scope 2 emissions. A digital twin combined with simulation helps optimize the operating conditions of machines to retain output while reducing consumption.

The circular economy

Reducing consumption in the manufacturing process is a great first step in creating a sustainable factory environment, but the goal of these advancements is integrating production into a circular economy. Rather than eating the cost of materials when a product is decommissioned, new businesses will form around reusing, recycling, and remanufacturing the usable materials. Manufacturing will play a major role, by facilitating recycled materials and enabling the disassembly of complex products into their valuable components and materials.