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How The Cloud is Helping Manufacturers Embrace Sustainable Business Practice

Sustainability has forced issues of efficiency to the fore for businesses. As an industry, manufacturing is always looking toward the next important thing. For those in the sector, it is an ongoing journey towards the next innovative idea or an upcoming improvement. Considering the current climate crisis, it should come as no surprise that sustainability is something that manufacturing is focusing on in a big way. Though it should be a key consideration for all industries, manufacturers are leading the way by embracing sustainable business practices. In fact, according to a recent survey, manufacturing executives are some of the most committed to boosting sustainability. 

Companies such as Apple, Dell, Amazon, Google, and other large tech companies have all made pledges to reduce their carbon footprint and improve other sustainability initiatives. Apple committed to being 100% carbon neutral in their entire business including supply chain and product life cycle by 2030. Other promises include building a recycling robot to better dismantle Apple tech to recover rare earth materials that can be reused in other devices.

Manufacturing organisations are hugely interested in transformation, but they are now combining this with an interest in conserving what is already there. This necessitates an alignment of sustainability and waste reduction with what is required commercially within a business and throughout the supply chain. Now, over half of manufacturing businesses are taking practical steps to operate in a more sustainable way, and using the likes of data to help achieve net-zero, which is far more than the global average.

What are Manufacturers Doing to Close the Gap Between Environmental Concerns and Industry Development

2022’s Hannover Messe hosted manufacturers from around the world, many of which showcased the latest carbon cutting innovations, Industry 4.0, energy efficiency, smart grids, and sustainable practices. Not only does this highlight how the manufacturing industry is embracing the change, but it shows a definite interest in closing the gap between development and sustainability. 

There have been developments in analytics, digital factory processes and AI, all of which aid in operating a sustainable business. In a lot of these industry solutions, cloud technology played a key role. In 2021, close to two-thirds of manufacturers were using cloud tools, an amount that is constantly growing. 

There are four methods that manufacturers are using to evolve to the next level of sustainability: 
First, breaking down silos for companies to have a truly one-enterprise approach and create a digital thread. Next, digital twins stimulate the business to identify gaps in a product’s lifecycle and create opportunities for next-gen technologies far into the future. Third, connected solutions and customers are vital to drive innovation. And finally, putting a high priority on connecting with peers can extend best practices across industries and supply chains.

So, how are manufacturers embracing sustainable business practices by using the cloud?

By Creating Sustainable Supply Chains

Cloud service providers are giving customers access to data, allowing them to track and implement sustainability goals, and this is something that manufacturers have taken advantage of when it comes to supply chains

With data analytics tools being available on the public cloud, businesses can work with real-time data insights. This means they can examine regional energy consumption, make greener IT decisions, and find ways to cut their carbon impact. A number of sectors are beginning to utilise this data, but manufacturers have been appreciating its value for a while. Manufacturers have been using this technology to measure and report on environmental efforts.

Manufacturers are also paying attention to the environmental implications of having a supply chain. Shipments, delivery, inventory, and operations are already affecting the environment and climate crisis. To counteract this, the manufacturing industry is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to adapt their supply chain to things such as extreme weather and supply shortages.

By Focusing on the Factory Floor

Technology helps the development of new products and services, using more sustainable methods. For example, by outsourcing business operations and automating aspects of the development phase. Cloud technology also helps with the development side of things, by analysing operational data to make a whole host of factory floor improvements. With cloud technology, manufacturers can develop a better digital ecosystem and boost productivity by automating factory processes.

Businesses are also able to access contextualised and unified data via the cloud, which helps to improve supply chain processes. Manufacturers can look at data from any machine on the factory floor, before then analysing the data to optimise operations, predict maintenance and find anomalies. This is a more sustainable way of doing things and helps to predict eventualities.

By Developing Sustainable Products

Not only are manufacturers using the cloud to improve their sustainable business practices internally, but they are also using the cloud to develop sustainable products. Many businesses are currently developing products and solutions with sustainability in mind, such as those within the automotive manufacturing industry who are using electric and connectivity to create more sustainable vehicles.

Using cloud technology, businesses within the manufacturing industry are changing their supply chains. They are making them more dynamic and sustainable, something that other industries are likely to follow. 

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