Sustainable manufacturing: data, AI and staff retention

Sustainable manufacturing is growing across the sector: Harnessing data and AI, embracing employment diversity, unleashing the power of AI and more

Sustainable manufacturing involves a range of practices, from using renewable energy to power factories, to encouraging talented but underrepresented workers to apply for jobs,  to implementing lean manufacturing processes to lower waste. These may be more expensive to install at first, but are popular with stakeholders and customers alike. Many sustainable methods are also forecast to earn back the money it costs to set them up and allow manufacturers to keep up with the latest processes with ease. 

Here, we look at some examples of sustainable manufacturing. 


Welcoming in talented workers with disabilities and from minority groups

The manufacturing sector is facing a skills shortage and one solution to this, is to attract employees who may have previously felt unwelcome in the industry. 

Chemical manufacturer PPG - which featured in our ‘Top 10 sustainable manufacturers’ - has committed to increase employee diversity, equity and inclusion. By 2025, the company will have increased its female employee representation to 34% across the world, with Black, Latinx and Asian employee representation standing at 45%.

“We have been on a journey to create a culture that helps all employees feel a sense of belonging at PPG,” said Michael H. McGarry, PPG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “While we have made consistent progress over the years, we know we have much more work to do. We are committed to doing better today than yesterday in our DE & I progress.”

EY’s Sai Yadati, Principal of Advanced Manufacturing and Mobility Sector, as well as Sustainability Leader, spoke with Manufacturing Digital about sustainability. 

“Take a critical look - and walk the walk,” he advises other manufacturers. “American companies need to think about how to manufacture products in a sustainable way and to be responsible.”

One of EY’s co-founders, Scotsman Arthur Young, practised courtroom law until he became deaf and lost much of his eyesight. But crisis often spurs innovation ‒ and this disability forced Young to think differently. He decided to move into finance and would later merge his company, Arthur Young & Co., with American Alwin Ernst’s Ernst & Whinney, to EY. From the start, EY has been inclusive of employing those who have disabilities and guides other employers into hiring a diverse workforce. Yadati believes that businesses need to follow this method to be successful. 

Data and AI are used in sustainable manufacturing

The built environment contributes 37% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Both old and new buildings must become more sustainable and achieve net-zero carbon. 

In the latest Manufacturing Digital magazine, Schneider Electric’s Andre Marino discusses how IoT devices are impacting commercial real estate and helping buildings become more sustainable. 

“One of the biggest sustainability implementation challenges is data collection, reporting and transparency. Capturing data and automating building systems – from multiple systems from both inside and outside of the building – helps reduce energy and increase decarbonization. Buildings are more connected and IoT facilitates the integration of once disparate systems, so they communicate and work together.”

In a new whitepaper ‘Optimising energy use in manufacturing with data and AI’. SAS demonstrates how manufacturers are using the power of AI and real-time analytics with manufacturing data, to drive more sustainable manufacturing operations. 

With the goal to help manufacturers: 

  • Find new ways to save energy
  • Increase sustainability across their business 
  • Continue to build top quality products.

“AI has the ability to not just find the needle in the haystack, but also help operations learn from the past,” said Kevin Kalish, Senior Manager, Industry Consulting, IOT at SAS. SAS’ AI and real-time analytics help organisations transform data into trusted decisions faster by providing knowledge and insights in the moments that matter – from edge to cloud. 

Read more here


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Other magazines that may be of interest - Healthcare Digital


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