Epicor: How Manufacturers Can Achieve Greater Sustainability

Steve O’Keeffe, Regional VP at Epicor
Steve O’Keeffe, Regional VP at leading software-provider Epicor shares how manufacturers can enhance sustainability through circularity and software

Introduce yourself and your role

As the Regional Vice President for the UK and Ireland at Epicor, my role is a dynamic mix of strategy, growth, and innovation. It's my responsibility to steer our operations towards achieving our annual goals, while also laying the groundwork for future success.

This involves a keen focus on fostering growth, seeking out new business opportunities that align with our strategic vision, and deepening our relationships with customers to drive loyalty and adoption.

A significant part of my role involves leading our shift towards cloud-based solutions, ensuring we leverage the latest technology to enhance our services. It's about balancing immediate needs with long-term planning, and ensuring Epicor remains a leader in our field.

How has Epicor used its solutions to help manufacturers become more sustainable?

Supply chain managers are increasingly making sustainability a core aspect of their strategies, recognising the urgency of addressing environmental impacts. This shift towards sustainable practices involves a comprehensive re-evaluation of every link in the supply chain to ensure operations are not only efficient but also environmentally responsible.

One key area of focus is the optimisation of resource use, including the selection of materials and the methods of product distribution. Managers are now conscientiously choosing environmentally friendly materials and sourcing them responsibly.

Similarly, the logistics of how products are delivered to customers and suppliers are being refined to reduce carbon footprints. Another important consideration is packaging and warehousing operations. The aim here is to use sustainable materials for packaging and to implement energy-efficient practices in warehouses.

This not only helps in reducing waste but also in lowering the overall environmental impact of supply chain operations.

You mention businesses leveraging ERP solutions and MES to maintain compliance with net-zero legislation. Can you tell me more about Epicor’s role in this and why it's important?

Technological solutions, such as Epicor's software, play a pivotal role in enabling these sustainable practices and maintaining compliance with net-zero legislation. By providing detailed insights into every aspect of the supply chain, technology allows managers to make informed decisions that balance operational efficiency with environmental stewardship.

How are legacy systems damaging to the environment? How can manufacturers move past their reliance on them? Legacy systems can be damaging to the environment. They’re often built on old hardware and software platforms that require a lot of energy to run and maintain, becoming increasingly inefficient. These inefficiencies also lead to higher operational costs, which isn’t helpful for any business model!

At Epicor, we encourage manufacturers to move away from these legacy systems and adopt cloud-based cognitive ERP solutions where possible. By using modern, efficient software, manufacturers can act on data insights and find ways to reduce carbon footprint, boost operational efficiency, and achieve greater scalability.

Moving past legacy systems isn't just about upgrading technology, it's a strategic move towards sustainability and long-term profitability. This shift is essential for meeting the demands of today’s environmentally-conscious market.

What is Epicor’s outlook on manufacturing circularity? Do you have any advice on how manufacturers can approach it? 

Manufacturing circularity is a great way for manufacturers to reduce costs and enhance sustainability. The main aim is to keep resources in use in the supply chain for as long as possible and then recovering and regenerating them when they reach the end of their life.

Technology, particularly ERP systems, can be very useful in enabling manufacturers to navigate manufacturing circularity through integrated tools and data that can help manage materials in the supply chain.

Inventory tracking is particularly key for this process. ERP systems can keep track of raw materials, components, and products, ensuring that resources are being used efficiently and waste minimised. They also ensure that all departments have access to the same information, promoting collaboration and streamlined workflows that support circular practices.

How can manufacturers collaborate with their supply chain ecosystem to enhance sustainability?

It starts with open communication and transparency, sharing goals and expectations related to environmental impact. By working together, manufacturers and suppliers across the supply chain ecosystem can identify and implement more sustainable practices.

An ERP System is instrumental in making these changes. With ERP, manufacturers have access to the data insights that can help make informed decisions about reducing waste, optimising logistics, and sourcing materials responsibly.

Jointly investing in green technologies and innovations can also drive progress, from energy- efficient manufacturing processes to sustainable packaging solutions. Fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual accountability helps ensure that sustainability efforts are cohesive and impactful, leading to a greener, more efficient supply chain.

What manufacturing areas can be made more sustainable- but are frequently overlooked?

One major area that’s often overlooked is energy consumption within facilities. Many manufacturers focus on production efficiency but neglect the energy used for lighting, heating, and cooling.

Simple changes like upgrading to LED lighting, optimizing HVAC systems, and implementing energy management systems can lead to substantial energy savings. Waste management is another area that is often overlooked.

By implementing comprehensive recycling programs and finding ways to repurpose byproducts, manufacturers can significantly reduce the waste that ends up in landfills.

What are Epicor’s plans for the next twelve months?

At the top of the list is delivery — ensuring that our core products are supplied effectively and efficiently to our customers in manufacturing, distribution, retail, and the builders’ merchants’ sectors.

It’s also crucial that we keep our customers well-informed about the constantly developing capabilities of Epicor’s solutions. Most recently, we unveiled our Epicor Grow portfolio, an integrated set of AI and BI capabilities powered by an industry-focused data platform.

These capabilities will deliver more than 200 highly specific use cases, giving users the insights and efficiencies they need to drive more value.

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