Responsible manufacturing: Sustainable supply chains made easy

May 29, 2024
  • discrete manufacturing
  • professional services
  • engineering & projects
  • Microsoft

With 20% of global CO2 emissions coming from the manufacturing and production sectors, manufacturing businesses are facing increasing pressure to reduce their environmental and social impacts as consumers, investors, employees, and regulators alike are demanding more transparency and accountability. 

However, as manufacturing businesses today often involve complex and interdependent supply chains that span multiple countries and sectors, meaning that they have to deal with different regulations, standards, cultures, environmental conditions, and stakeholders who may have conflicting or competing interests and expectations, achieving sustainability in manufacturing is not a simple task.  

That’s why managing supply chains in a sustainable way requires a holistic and strategic approach that considers the economic, social, and environmental impacts of every decision and action. 

Thankfully, today’s intuitive technologies provide opportunities for manufacturers to drive sustainability while saving costs and improving safety in their operations. 

Here are four ways in which manufacturers can drive sustainability in their supply chains with technology: 

Optimise energy consumption 

Manufacturers can optimise their energy consumption by utilising smart technologies to monitor and control their energy usage across their facilities and equipment. By collecting and analysing real-time data from sensors, meters, and machines, manufacturers can identify and eliminate energy waste, improve efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

For example, Microsoft's Azure IoT solution accelerators can help manufacturers connect their devices, manage their data, and apply artificial intelligence to optimise their energy performance. Additionally, Microsoft's Power Platform can help manufacturers create custom applications and dashboards to visualise and manage their energy data.  

By leveraging these technologies, manufacturers can not only save on energy costs, but also enhance their environmental sustainability. 

Reduce emissions and carbon footprint 

Cloud technologies can help manufacturers reduce the environmental impact of their operations by enabling them to monitor and control their emissions and carbon footprint.  

Cloud-based solutions can help collect data on scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions to establish benchmarks, enabling manufacturers to identify and implement measures to reduce their emissions, such as switching to renewable energy sources, improving efficiency, or offsetting their carbon footprint.  

Cloud technologies can also help manufacturers track and report their environmental performance and compliance with regulations and standards. 

Improve water and waste management 

Another way that cloud-based solutions can help manufacturers improve their environmental impact is by reducing water consumption and wasted materials. By designing for sustainability throughout the product and service lifecycles, manufacturers can optimise their use of resources and minimise waste generation.  

For example, Microsoft solutions can help manufacturers create digital twins of their products and processes, enabling them to simulate and test different scenarios and identify the most efficient and environmentally friendly options.  

Cloud technologies can also help manufacturers improve their forecasting and planning capabilities, reducing the risk of overproduction, excess inventory, and obsolescence. With better visibility and control over their operations, manufacturers can lower their water and waste footprint and enhance their circular economy practices. 

Drive responsible value chain practices 

Finally, manufacturers can drive responsible value chain practices by moving from monitoring and managing individual assets to monitoring and optimising whole environments. This means using digital solutions to collect and analyse data from multiple sources, such as machines, sensors, products, and suppliers, and using this information to optimise the performance and sustainability of the entire value chain.  

For example, manufacturers can use cloud-based platforms to monitor energy consumption and emissions, and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict trends, prescribe actions, and go forward sustainably.  

By moving from reactive to proactive decision-making, manufacturers can improve their efficiency, quality, and resilience, while minimising their environmental and social impact. 

In conclusion, manufacturers have a great opportunity to drive responsible value chain practices by leveraging digital technologies and data. By doing so, they can not only enhance their competitiveness and profitability, but also contribute to the global goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving resource efficiency, and ensuring social responsibility. Manufacturers who embrace this opportunity will be well-positioned to thrive in the future of industry. 

Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing 

Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing has been designed to seamlessly connect people, assets, workflow, and business processes — and move forward with resilience — with end-to-end, open-standard manufacturing solutions. 

Together with Microsoft and Delaware, manufacturers can optimise their energy consumption, reduce their emissions and carbon footprint, improve their water and waste management, and drive responsible value chain processes. 

Discover more

Take a look at our latest eBook: Drive business value with sustainability data for more insights on sustainable supply chains with Microsoft and Delaware.

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