'Sustainability' - A Constant Focus in the Manufacturing Supply Chain

'Sustainability' - A Constant Focus in the Manufacturing Supply Chain

How has the manufacturing supply chain landscape evolved over the years, and how has technology facilitated this transformation?

In the last ten years, we have seen significant impacts by businesses taking ownership of developing products made from sustainable materials. Even though it has been difficult, industries are identifying new solutions to replace toxic or limited resources with greener alternatives.

Manufacturing organisations, especially, are realising that sustainability is not just about having technology for improving brand image but rather making their workflow more efficient and environment-friendly. It is about a shift in mindset regarding utilising renewable resources, which will lower CO2 emissions and foster greater sustainability. Even from the business perspective, process optimisation will help manufacturers keep more cash in their pockets and, in some ways, facilitate better business outcomes.

The industry's response to the growing sustainability trend is green steel. Our purpose is to create the business case for green steel by mobilising critical stakeholders across the whole value chain to develop products using renewable energy. Businesses are already adopting this mindset and making strides in the right direction of eco-friendly workflows. Optimising the supply chain plays a significant role in helping manufacturers acquire cost-effective resources for mass manufacturing greener products with minimal resource waste. This approach is not only an achievable task but also economically viable during financial crises as it can reduce rework and labour costs.

Can you elaborate on how you are promoting the green steel initiative?

Recently, we have collaborated with one of our major clients— Epiroc Corporate—a significant player in a sustainable society and a global productivity partner for mining and infrastructure. With this collaboration, we have started a new project on manufacturing more green steel products, which they will showcase in their upcoming exhibitions this fall. Hand in hand, we have opened negotiations with some of the leading companies to install solar power plants and produce more green steel products using renewable energy. To stretch it over the supply chain, we have also involved some of our major steel producers, Austrian Pestabin, who have installed a substantial volume of solar panels, ensuring that the material they provide us is 75 percent produced by renewable energies.

We also use natural groundwater resources to supply the area with drinking water. All wastewater generated in the factory area is treated in our wastewater treatment plant. Even more, we use renewable energy sources to produce heat. In pursuit of this, we have invested in the reconstruction of heat distribution and boilers for burning wood chips in our facility.

These collaborations were critical for us in the right direction for aligning our business with the eco-friendly trend requirement. Such sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives are helping us garner more certifications from Scandinavia and get more contracts for greener mining products.

How are your eco-friendly initiatives boosting your company's growth?

Our factory was built in the 1950s with a traditional business operation practice. Although we weren't looking at optimised materials and process flows initially, we began focusing on an optimised supply chain approach for a more efficient andproductive business process. As a result, we can make significant strides in the market. It enables us to minimise logistics waste and achieve an undistorted material flow.

This can be done by either segmenting the facility for families of similar operations or by leveraging different facilities for the same kind of manufacturing operations. Depending on the nuanced material flow requirements, creating a separate facility for various processes will ensure improved workflow and quality. We always concentrate on families of operations to optimise the manufacturing workflow. For instance, we are leveraging one facility for material preparation, and another for machining helps us ramp up the quality of each operation, from welding to final painting.

“Optimisation of supply chain is playing a significant role in enabling manufacturers to acquire cost-effective resources for mass manufacturing greener product with minimal resource waste”

In a nutshell, there are a lot of advantages in utilising single or multiple facilities depending on the manufacturing requirements. Yet, one should never forget that while implementing any one approach, it is necessary to have product-specific and proper research on the market segment for the product. Only then will manufacturers be able to improve their efficiency and achieve the desired results.

What advice would you give to other leaders in this industry or any other industry for tackling their optimisation projects in-house for their workflow efficiencies?

Based on my experience, every project should be handled in a modular form that gives high flexibility at both ends with a long-lasting effect. For instance, reusing resources for upcoming projects can reduce the need to build any new facility. For this, all you have to do is 'reuse the resources,' which gives you a valuable advantage in offering your client better and cost-effective solutions by maintaining the same quality and efficiency. At the same time, develop your best know-how to produce the product in your way. It eventually gives you a competitive advantage in improving your projects and making yourself a leader in the space.

While producing any new manufacturing line, you should always be a strategic partner to maintain a robust supply chain position to survive the vulnerability we are experiencing in the space. Thus, it is imperative to have very stable and reliable suppliers to eliminate the risks.

However, just choosing to partner with the best companies in the space might not be the best approach every time. Partnering with mid-tier companies is often a more practical option for logistics firms as they can grow together through efficient use of technology and make a more significant mark in the industry. Besides, maintaining a sustainable, technology-driven workflow will ensure a smooth supply chain process all the way from the suppliers to the end consumers.

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