Sustainable manufacturing is about doing more with less. It has become a business imperative as companies stare at rising raw material costs and energy, as well as stringent regulations. While manufacturing has traditionally been associated with environmental degradation, there is now a collective conscience to drive green growth and build recovery plans for a sustainable future.
In this spirit, the International Research Institute for Manufacturing (IRIM) hosted its prestigious India Green Manufacturing Challenge Awards (IGMC) to recognize businesses committed to improving sustainability factors associated with their manufacturing facilities.
Speaking of the biggest trend in manufacturing at present, Anand Louie, Director, IRIM said, “The most critical aspect in manufacturing right now is the realization that any and all waste created from manufacturing is the biggest liability. Most factories, today, have a drive to achieve zero-waste; zero-liquid discharge has become a hygiene factor...and we have witnessed substantial reduction in waste creation.”Rewarding Champions of Green Growth
HUL, Hindustan Coca-Cola, Sun Pharma, UPL, JSW, Borosil, Schneider, etc., won the IGMC Awards 2020-21 for their distinguished efforts in improving the manufacturing processes and contributing to green growth and sustainable development. All the entrants were evaluated on a 4-stage Green Manufacturing Framework.
Schneider Electric India Pvt Ltd’s Hyderabad plant was recognized for pioneering digital transformation by integrating world leading processes and energy technologies towards realizing sustainable opportunities for their customers.
Nitin Bakshi, VP- Global Supply Chain, India Operations said, “This award is a testimony of Schneider Electric’s commitment towards of sustainability and product safety.”
Meanwhile, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries’ Ahmednagar and Toansa units have invested in environment-friendly options through projects such as zero liquid discharge and many more.
Anil Kumar Jain, CEO- Global API Business, Sun Pharma said, “We are concerned and conscious about our environment and precious natural resources.”
Green Growth: More Important Than Ever
Sustainability has become more urgent, especially after the recent report on climate change by the IPCC. Business leaders should adhere to good environmental practices and make decisions that are linked to health of the planet. In this view, employees and customers are forcing companies to adopt green practices, pushing them to adopt sustainable policies. In its report, the World Economic Forum mentions “business has the opportunity to dramatically accelerate the transition to a nature-positive economy and collaborate on the advocacy, design and adoption of policy reforms needed to protect, restore and sustainably manage nature.”
To avoid the looming danger of climate change and, as more customers become environmentally conscious, most companies have joined the talks on conservation and sustainable manufacturing methods to reduce waste and maximise resource efficiency. Other drivers of sustainable manufacturing include:● Competition from companies that encourage sustainability practices.
● Company’s ecological brand and reputation.
● Environmental pressure from regulators and stakeholders.
● Growing awareness among customers.
● Economic benefits and market competitiveness.
That said, green manufacturing is more than just reducing waste. It is about implementing sustainability along the entire value chain to help reduce energy and resource consumption, waste by-products, and water usage. Green manufacturing ultimately strives to eliminate environmental waste and promotes self-recovery of the earth by:● Reducing pollutant emissions
● Reducing energy consumption
● Using environmental-friendly or biodegradable materials
● Collecting and recycling old products for waste reduction
For instance, UPL Ltd’s units in Vapi and Ankleshwar, which were recognized during IGMC awards, have reduced their environmental footprint and developed innovative product solutions. “In our journey of sustainability, we achieved 20% reduction in ecological footprint in the last three years through our various measures. We continue to take our target of reducing the ecological footprint by further 20% in the coming years,” said Vikas Garg, Manufacturing Head- AI India, UPL Ltd. Driving Innovation With Gender Diversity
Many manufacturing companies gradually realise the importance of gender diversity in a stereotypically male-dominated industry. Many welding competitions and championships, such as National Welding Competition, are being held to assess women's capabilities in this area and create a gender-inclusive manufacturing community.
Companies like Continental Hindustan Zinc (HZL), Sun Life Asia Service Center (ASC) are shaking up the blue-collar ecosystem by hiring more women in a wide spectrum of entry and leadership level roles. In particular, factories like Ashok Leyland and GE have started employing women welders, as women unbolt unconventional carrier paths and learn new skills.
Green Manufacturing: Trends to Watchout
Today’s manufacturing is all about embracing next-generation solutions to make supply chains smarter, quicker, more customer-focused, and more sustainable. From the rising integration of digital transformation technologies and big data, fostering agile supply chains to the growing adoption of green production, sustainable manufacturing in India is in for a revamp up to become Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) compliant.
Here are the top three trends:1. Digital Transformation Technologies
Most manufacturing plants are replacing their production line with modern machines that are energy efficient. These machines are powerful, high-quality equipment that significantly reduces unnecessary waste. In addition to these investments, companies are also investing in digital transformation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for being innovating and ESG compliant.
These technologies not only increase efficiency in the supply chain but also empower manufacturers to accurately forecast opportunities and risks, assess material issues, and streamline ESG data for creating and publishing timely reports. Backed by innovative technologies, companies are also automating manual tasks to complete work at unimaginable speeds, improve transparency, empower access, and bring sustainability into real-time.2. Embracing Circular Economy
As customers and companies become more aware of environmental concerns, sustainable manufacturing needs to be embraced at all levels – right from product to process and system. The 3R principle of manufacturing, reduce, reuse and recycle, is not enough for a circular economy. It must be expanded to include more Rs like recover, refuse, remanufacture, redesign, repurpose, etc.
A large part of this trend is driven by growing pressure from the government and regulators to minimise the usage of single-use plastics. The circular economy is, therefore, about not only sustainability but driving profits and attracting more investments. It allows manufacturers to conserve resources, save costs, optimise processes, and promote corporate values.3. Sustainable Logistics
Transportation has a huge role to play in managing supply chains. Whether it’s procuring raw materials or shipping finished goods to suppliers, transportation is a major source of CO2 emissions. It affects the bottom line if companies fail to comply with government regulations.
To reduce transportation mileage, manufacturers are considering using local suppliers and optimising shipping containers. Digital transformation technologies are also helping here to help determine the best fuel-efficient shipping method and monitor vehicle maintenance levels. Final Thoughts
Sustainable manufacturing is not a fad but a reality of the world we live in. There are numerous areas within manufacturing that can take advantage of greener practices, including using recyclable material, optimising resources and reducing waste material.
Green manufacturing is a step towards letting the earth recover and building an agile manufacturing unit that is made for the future.The pages slugged ‘Brand Connect’ are equivalent to advertisements and are not written and produced by Forbes India journalists.