Insights From Omdia on Sustainability in Manufacturing

Sustainable Manufacturing
Sustainable Manufacturing
Omdia's Alex West Researches Environmental Sustainability and the Future of Work. Here, He Offers His Insights on Sustainable Transitions in Manufacturing

Alex West is the Senior Principal Analyst for Omdia’s Industrial Sustainability research, as part of the Manufacturing Technology group. This research focuses on developments in sustainability in the industrial sector, specifically discrete, batch and process manufacturing. 

“Our primary focus is on environmental sustainability, with some additional coverage on the future of work,” said West. 

Here, he tells us about how companies are doing in their efforts to transition towards sustainable practices.


What led you to this industry?

“The manufacturing sector is one of the largest contributors to GHG emissions and sitting early in the supply chain and major global sustainability initiatives will need to be adopted by the sector. We see a lot of companies starting on the journey, but still early in the process e.g., lots of commitments being made, but with companies still figuring out how they’re going to meet these goals. Technology will play a major role in the transition, which is the focus of much of our research.” 


What is Omdia?

“Omdia, powered by Informa Tech, is a global analyst and advisory group. With decades of industry experience, world-class research and consultancy, and actionable insights from over 200 markets, Omdia provides insights to help connect the dots across the technology landscape.”


What challenges are manufacturers facing regarding their sustainability targets?

“Omida spoke to manufacturers about key roadblocks to their sustainable initiative deployment: 

  • 29% said legacy assets and infrastructure were a major challenge. Industrial companies often measure infrastructure replacement rates in decades, and the process is expensive and disruptive. Installed systems may not be well suited to sustainability initiatives.
  • Upfront cost or budgeting challenges was identified as a key roadblock by 27% of respondents. A further 47% said that this was a challenge, but one that could be overcome.
  • 23% said competing priorities and a lack of access to the right data.
  • Culture change was ranked as a major challenge by 19% of respondents. Sustainability is increasingly a C-suite initiative. 78% of respondents said that a C-level role is directly responsible for driving their sustainability efforts, and some companies are creating a chief sustainability officer (CSO) role to support this evolution.”


How well are companies doing in their efforts to transition towards sustainable practices?

“Companies are struggling to make the necessary changes at the necessary speed. The challenges faced will vary significantly by industry sector. For companies in some sectors a focus on decarbonisation of the energy supply and introducing improved energy efficiency practices will help them in getting a long way to target. For some with longer supply chains they will have to work with (or switch from) their partners in order to reduce their Scope 3 emissions (supply chain emissions).

“For some industry sectors the changes are more painful. Two of the major contributing industries that need a sustainability transition are steel and cement. For every tonne of cement produced, between 0.5 and 1 tonne of CO2, for steel it's close to 2 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of product. For these industries there are some fundamental changes needed for their processes that can also require significant capital expenditure, for e.g., a transition from traditional fossil fuel powered blast furnaces to electric arc furnaces in steel manufacturing, or the manufacture of green cement which requires different input materials and changes in the process.”


Tell us about your 2024 plans and predictions.

“Our research continues to expand into 2024 particularly in areas that have the potential to shape manufacturers’ approach toward sustainability. Key areas that we see as a priority include energy management, increased responsibility towards green initiatives, climate positive technology and more.”



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