With sustainability and the drive to net zero becoming a staple agenda item at the boardroom table, FourJaw CEO and Co-founder, Chris Iveson, looks at how manufacturers can use manufacturing analytics to help them achieve their net-zero targets.
Industry 4.0 technologies are enabling businesses to overcome challenges and unlock opportunities at an ever-increasing rate. Technologies that were just an idea a decade or so ago are now accessible and affordable to even small manufacturers. It’s these technologies that are delivering the digital revolution and giving us the answers to some of society’s biggest challenges.
In a recent MakeUK report, nearly half of Britain’s manufacturers have an active plan to invest in technologies that will help them decarbonise their businesses, while a quarter have already made that investment.
Of those who had adopted smart technology, 62% reported making energy cost savings, with half reporting savings between £10,000 and £100,000. The benefits extend beyond energy savings, as firms can also use tech to increase productivity and reduce costs in areas including material wastage and water usage.
How can manufacturers make the most of their energy usage?
Businesses in all sectors have come under increasing pressure from rising fuel costs in the last 12 months. According to MakeUK, 90% of emissions from manufacturers come from the manufacturing process itself. This makes monitoring energy and increasing productivity key to achieving net zero while helping to save money.
In a manufacturing environment, improving productivity is the best way to set you up for sustainability. By improving processes, removing inefficiencies and understanding where energy is wasted, manufacturers can make real gains to support their sustainability and net zero targets.
Technologies such as machine monitoring have come a long way in recent years. Their application on a manufacturer's factory floor is no longer restricted to just capturing utilisation data. Although still just as important, utilisation data on its own isn’t enough for manufacturers looking to achieve net zero. That’s why our business released energy monitoring functionality within our platform in early 2023. We have seen customers already reporting savings on energy bills by making changes to the way they run their machines.
By understanding where energy is being wasted and where efficiencies in processes can be gained, our customers are making informed decisions about how to reduce energy usage, helping them to cut energy costs, reduce their carbon footprint and move closer to achieving net zero.
Top 10 reasons why manufacturing analytics platforms can help manufacturers improve sustainability and achieve net zero:
- Identifying Energy Consumption Patterns: Energy monitoring helps manufacturers understand how and when energy is being consumed within their operations. This knowledge allows them to identify peak consumption periods, inefficient processes, energy-intensive equipment and where energy is being wasted.
- Setting Baselines and Targets: Monitoring energy and machine utilisation data over time allows manufacturers to establish baseline energy consumption and productivity levels. With this information, they can set realistic and achievable targets for reducing energy consumption and unplanned machine downtime. These targets can then serve as key performance indicators (KPIs) for sustainability and continuous improvement efforts.
- Efficiency Improvements: Energy and machine productivity monitoring highlights opportunities for operational improvements and efficiency gains. By analysing energy data, by machine, cell/production line or factory, manufacturers can identify areas where energy is being wasted or used inefficiently, leading to the optimisation of processes and equipment.
- Behavioural Changes and Employee Awareness: Real-time energy and machine usage data can be used to promote awareness among employees. For example, when employees are conscious and informed about their energy use, they are more likely to adopt energy-saving behaviours and contribute to the overall reduction of energy consumption. The same applies to downtime reasons; by being aware and informed, staff can operate their machine more efficiently.
- Equipment Maintenance and Performance: Monitoring energy and machine downtime can help manufacturers track the performance of equipment and machinery. Anomalies in energy consumption might indicate potential issues or maintenance needs, allowing timely interventions to prevent breakdowns and reduce energy losses.
- Investment Prioritisation: Accurate energy monitoring data enables manufacturers to prioritise investments in energy-efficient technologies and processes. They can identify which areas require upgrades or replacements to reduce energy consumption, helping them allocate resources effectively. The same applies to understanding machine utilisation. Manufacturers can understand what types of machines are utilised the most and make informed decisions when looking to buy new machines. For example, do they need to buy a new machine, or do they have spare capacity that they don’t know about?
- Emission Reduction Strategies: Achieving net zero often involves more than just reducing energy consumption. Manufacturers might need to invest in renewable energy sources, carbon capture technologies, or offsets. Energy monitoring helps them quantify their emissions and evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies in achieving net zero goals.
- Regulatory Compliance and Reporting: Whether it is for regulatory and supply chain compliance or for reporting your carbon footprint to get tax benefits, accurate energy monitoring data ensures manufacturers remain compliant and provides the data needed for reporting.
- Stakeholder and Consumer Expectations: Sustainability is becoming a significant concern for stakeholders and consumers alike, and rightly so. Manufacturers that can demonstrate their commitment to energy efficiency and emissions reduction through transparent monitoring and reporting are more likely to gain trust and support.
- Cost Savings: Energy represents a significant operational cost for manufacturers. For example, energy consumption in some operations is proportionally a large amount of the overall manufacturing costs. By monitoring and optimising energy consumption, manufacturers can understand the cost on a part-by-part basis enabling more accurate costing, meaning you can understand the margin quicker.
In summary, using manufacturing analytics platforms that combine energy usage and machine utilisation data enhances manufacturers' ability to optimise processes, reduce energy consumption, and reduce manufacturing costs.
It provides a more comprehensive perspective on how production processes, machinery, and energy consumption interconnect, leading to sustainable, productive and profitable manufacturing.
If you are looking to start your move towards net zero, or simply want to improve productivity and reduce your energy costs, reach out to FourJaw to find out how our manufacturing analytics platform is enabling manufacturers of all sizes to drive sustainability in their factories.