Mike Casper, CEO of Azumo, on sustainable manufacturing
Hi Mike! What is Azumo and how does it integrate into the manufacturing process?
“Azumo is a display company that uses RLCD technology to make devices 90% more energy efficient and extend battery life for consumer electronics, medical devices, industrial applications, and more. We use a front light, not a traditional blacklight, which makes our displays easier on the eyes and visible in all lighting conditions (think Kindle meets iPad) – a true eco-friendly display.
“During the manufacturing process, Azumo’s front light is added to the display as a component during the final assembly. We use roll-to-roll optical film manufacturing processing on our own product lines to reduce plastic and material usage, then partner with global electronics manufacturing partners (like Sharp, Foxconn, and DigiKey) to integrate with customer displays.”
Why are some manufacturers looking to create more sustainable processes?
“There’s a number of reasons: consumer demands, regulatory mandates, environmental concerns, or stakeholder pressure to meet environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives. By reducing waste, cutting water usage, using less traditional energy, and relying more on renewable energy, manufacturers can reduce costs while achieving sustainability outcomes.
“Sustainable manufacturing extends to design choices that impact the manufactured products themselves. By modifying their design and sourcing methods, manufacturers can further multiply their positive impact by shipping more sustainable products: energy-efficient electronics, CPGs in plant-based packaging, or clothing made from recycled materials.”
What are some ways that manufacturers can make their product sustainable (products that use less energy, less waste, etc.)?
“Sustainability can be an intimidating topic to conceive of broadly, but manufacturers can take steps to make the shift more accessible:
“Design longer-lasting products: Knowing that durable, easily-repaired products don’t end up in landfills as quickly, manufacturers can make design choices that extend product lifespans.
“Use more recycled materials: By focusing on factory-based trash separating and recycling, manufacturers can track how much waste (and what materials or components) they’re throwing away and look to return those materials to the supply chain.
“Adapt existing equipment first: Creating sustainable products often doesn’t require expensive new equipment. Without a tonne of time-intensive labour, existing machines can be adapted to build more sustainable products.”
There's a lot of focus on batteries as a source for potential energy savings — what are some other ways manufacturers can build sustainable products?
“It’s easy for electronics manufacturers to get sucked into a “battery arms race”, in which they put an outsized focus on creating or sourcing better batteries to improve the lifespan of their devices.
“But there’s a different approach: tackle the number one cause of battery drain, the display, at the source. Azumo uses reflective LCD (RLCD) technology, which leverages ambient light to create clear displays with a fraction of the energy consumed by traditional LCDs or OLEDs.
“With electric vehicles dominating the battery conversation and purchasing power, electronics manufacturers should weigh other design choices as avenues toward improved sustainability.”
How can manufacturers embrace Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives without adding to supply chain headaches of the past few years?
“While manufacturers will be keen to avoid worsening supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, they also need to recognise that supply chains are responsible for up to 90% of consumer companies’ emissions and environmental impact. That’s a huge opportunity — by building more sustainable supply chains, manufacturers can make serious progress toward ESG initiatives.
“Sustainability initiatives are usually heralded in customer-facing reports and press releases, while ESG initiatives are more frequently cited by internal-facing risk mitigation teams. But there’s considerable overlap between the two.
“By making incremental, cost-saving sustainability improvements to existing processes and viewing a commitment to ESG initiatives as a long-term investment in customers, component choices and compliance, manufacturers can spur short-term headaches while building supply chains of the future.”