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Concurrent Engineering Blog

5 steps to sustainable manufacturing

Posted by Concurrent Engineering on 05-Sep-2022 09:00:00

Sustainable manufacturing makes economic and environmental sense. But how do you get there? Let’s find out more.



When you can manufacture products without causing pollution or using unnecessary resources while respecting the welfare of your employees, communities and customers, that’s sustainable manufacturing.


Sustainable manufacturing makes sense from an economic point of view. Every day, your customers become more environmentally conscious and consider sustainability when making buying decisions. In competitive markets, being able to promote your eco-credentials can give you an edge. In addition, if you can be more energy and resource-efficient, it lowers your operating costs. However, as climate change becomes an ever more all-consuming issue, manufacturers must consider the environmental impact of what they do for the sake of the planet. 


In this article, we’ll look at five ways manufacturing companies can get closer to sustainable manufacturing. Each can be achieved through digital transformation. 


1 – Computer-aided design


Today’s computer-aided design (CAD) solutions incorporate generative design features that can help designers work with sustainability in mind. These features use algorithms to offer suggestions to designers on how to reduce the number of materials needed to meet the requirements of the product.


CAD solutions also have simulation capabilities to help designers discover ways to shorten design cycles and reduce the amount of waste produced when prototyping.


2 – Product lifecycle management


Product lifecycle management (PLM) software holds all the data associated with a product, acting as a single source of truth accessible to all stakeholders along the production chain. 


Manufacturers can use PLM to ascertain the carbon footprint of their product from conception to end of life. PLM gives you a level of insight into your product that allows you to make better choices in the future, such as reducing pollution in your processes or using more sustainable materials.


3 – Augmented reality


Design solutions now exist that incorporate augmented reality (AR). With AR, users anywhere in the world can connect to a ‘digital twin’ of the product, a full-scale model that can be amended if necessary.


With a digital twin, designers don’t need to travel to make changes to the product. Instead, they can simply tap into it wherever they are. Reducing travel in the manufacturing process reduces energy use and is more sustainable.


4 – Industrial Internet of Things


Thanks to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) software, manufacturers can monitor their machines more effectively, optimising performance and anticipating malfunctions. This reduces downtime and maximises efficiency regarding resources, energy consumption and quality – all great for sustainability.


Of course, less unplanned downtime is also desirable for a manufacturing company’s bottom line.


5 – Get the balance right


Finally, to boost sustainability in your manufacturing processes, work out the specific environmental requirements of your product and hit them – no more and no less. A badly- designed product will fail more often and require maintenance, while a product that has been designed beyond its remit requires more materials resources. 


Always be on the lookout for ways digital technology can make your processes more sustainable, boosting your bottom line and delighting your customers along the way.


Ready to discover more about sustainable manufacturing? Take a look here


Discover Sustainable Manufacturing