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COP26 – Is it Time for Digitalisation to Step Up?

COP26 – Is it Time for Digitalisation to Step Up?

New digital technologies can deliver both for productivity and for the planet.

With the UN’s Climate Change summit (COP26) now just around the corner, thousands of powerful and influential people will converge on Glasgow from all around the world to focus on arguably the greatest challenge to ever face mankind.

The UN Secretary General recently described the situation as a “code red for humanity” with a report detailing how human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes irreversible ways. But scientists say a catastrophe can be avoided if the world acts fast – and when it comes to process manufacturing, new digital technologies can play a bigger part than many may appreciate.

For a long time, reducing carbon footprint through increased productivity has been considered a bit of an oxymoron, but if we take a closer look, this is proving not to be so.

Productivity improvement comes in two main guises – ‘making the same with less’ or ‘making more with the same’, depending on demand and capacity constraints.

In either case, making sure all raw materials are utilised, with no wastage, ensuring all final product is right first time, to the required quality standard, with no need for rejection or rework, together with fully optimised processes, using the minimum amount of energy, will all go a long way to reducing our carbon footprint.

The key denominator to achieving this nirvana is the use of data. For many years we have generated a lot of data, but not really known how to make sense of it. Now, with the inception of Industry 4.0, we not only have an explosion of Big Data, we also have the tools and processes to allow its full exploitation.

From the Internet of Things, to the introduction of Horizontal Integration of systems, via Simulation, Cloud Computing and Augmented Reality to name but a few, we can now extract much more value from our new lakes of Big Data. 

Returning to our carbon footprint, the use of these new digital technologies can drive reductions beyond the process itself, as we are now able to provide real time information right across the supply chain, including suppliers and customers.

This visibility, predictive accuracy and data modelling can reduce the need for inventory and buffer stocks at numerous stages, allowing a shift to a more just in time model. This not only removes the material costs from the supply chain, but requires less warehouse storage – an expensive, often temperature and humidity-controlled space in many manufacturing operations.

Finally, with this Control Tower oversight of the supply chain, not only can stock levels be minimised, but transportation can also be optimised, reducing the need for part load deliveries and pickups.

If this all sounds like a bit of a mountain to climb, the answer is to have a digitalisation strategy. Stepping back from your current day-to-day firefighting, assessing your business needs, identifying the right new technologies and processes, and agreeing a roadmap for their implementation will ensure you take the right first step on your digitalisation journey.

In summary, without focussing specifically on environmental sustainability, embracing new digital technologies in the right way can deliver real results, both for productivity and for the planet.

DTG’s mission is to help businesses and organisations transform their manufacturing productivity through an enhanced digitalisation strategy.

For more information, contact us at [email protected] or visit our website