Digitalising your business processes to be more sustainable

Digital Transformation Sustainable Manufacturing Net zero Industry 4.0

Est. reading time: 2 minutes
Author: Steph Locke

Digitalising your business processes might help you run a more sustainable, environmentally friendly manufacturing operation. Simply digitising your records and reducing physical resource usage is an excellent place to begin. Taking it a step further and re-engineering the way you work to be smoother, more integrated, and less data entry dependent while digitalising can save you even more compute power (and therefore energy!).

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Steph Locke

Technologist and consultant with a track record of delivering transformation of businesses into data science and AI companies.


Being more environmentally friendly is high on many manufacturers' priority lists. A lot of time goes into more eco-friendly packaging or materials, lowering waste, and using renewable energy suppliers but what about all those paper-based processes? Many manufacturers are missing this area of improvement. 40% of all wood pulp goes into the production of paper and then, of that, 6 out of every 10 sheets of paper are wasted.1 It’s an area that can have a huge impact.

Digitising processes is a simple place to begin and I’ve written about the difference between digitisation and digitalisation for manufacturers previously but going from paper-based data gathering and retention to online storage is a step in the right direction. This implies centralised software with some long-lasting electronic gadgets in comparison to multiple printers, piles of paper, all those frequent deliveries, and the continuous waste management that comes with “by hand” processing.

Can we do better?

If you continue to operate the business in the same manner that it has always been run, you’ll be relying on its previous maximum level of efficiency. Simply porting processes to the digital realm keeps you doing the same stuff, the same way. With technological advancements taking place every day, the gap between what was best and what is best is ever-widening. Embracing the potential to improve your processes is an opportunity for a more sustainable approach.

Moving from stop reports and manual quality checks by changing to get real-time data capture and analysis of machines can help you reduce defects, cut waste, and minimise part requirements. The lower the waste in your process the more efficient it is in terms of resource utilisation.

Checklists, procedures and collaboration might be handled in a new way with technologies like Augmented Reality that avoid fixed, heavier-duty electronic devices or paper-based solutions that are resource-intensive to replace.

Machine learning and digital prototyping can help you reduce the environmental impact of your R&D, saving you from manual iterations and digital data entry.

These are only some of the ways Industry 4.0 technologies can make a positive impact on not only your business' profitability and growth opportunities but also its sustainability.

We’re seeing more and more manufacturers envision and implement solutions that help. Here in the UK, if you’re considering trialling technology to improve your processes, we recommend reaching out to ourselves (naturally!) but also to Made Smarter, a UK government-backed innovation group for manufacturers.

Further reading

  1. How a paperless solution can help business sustainability priorities (countfire)

Sustainable manufacturing

Need to digitalise fast?

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