The following insight is from Forbes.
Smart manufacturing supports sustainability. But what does sustainability mean? Today, it means three things. First, economic sustainability — the company must make a profit to stay in business. Second, environmental sustainability — the company must take care of the environment in everything that it does. Third, social responsibility — the company must be socially responsible in all its business dealings. There’s even a name for this definition of sustainable: the “triple bottom line.” And it’s not optional.
Even more than these three definitions taken individually, real sustainability means that the company can’t sacrifice one for the others. It can’t put profits ahead of environmental sustainability or social responsibility. It also means that the company knows it’s not a charity. It can’t put environmental sustainability or social responsibility ahead of profits or it won’t be in business very long.
Some might call this a struggle, but even though it can be difficult, I don’t believe it’s really a struggle. It’s more about finding balance and the right things that work well together. It’s not an either/or proposition. You don’t have to choose between profits and the environment. The company must find a way to make all three things a reality, together. It’s difficult, but it must be done. It’s the triple bottom line for all companies today.
Economic sustainability means that the company has to make a profit to stay in business. It wasn’t that long ago when it seemed that people thought profits were evil and that anyone who wanted to make a profit was greedy, selfish and a bad person. Fortunately, most everyone today understands that companies must make a profit to stay in business. Making reasonable profits on an ongoing basis allows companies to undertake socially and environmentally responsible initiatives and also take care of their customers and their people.
Smart manufacturing helps companies achieve economic sustainability. It’s all about increasing throughput, uptime and performance while reducing overhead costs, operating costs and capital costs. Data and analytics can diagnose obstacles limiting productivity and find the best way to reduce costs. When you have the data in real time, the right people can make the right decisions to keep productivity up and costs down. This provides the company with new capabilities and business models that allow it to grow and remain profitable over time. When computers and other devices are optimized to do what they do best, people are free to focus on ideas and solutions. This leads to greater long-term economic sustainability.
Through smart manufacturing, companies can also achieve environmental sustainability. When you reduce waste, emissions and materials, you reduce anything leaving the plant that’s not a finished product. While zero waste or zero emissions may not be totally achievable, smart manufacturing goes a long way by providing the necessary data in real time. That means someone can do something about it right now, as opposed to looking at the data and asking what happened. You can also look at the data over the short and long term to discover trends, do a root cause analysis and judge the efficacy of programs designed to reduce waste and emissions.
Most companies believe their foremost social responsibility is to their own people. Smart manufacturing helps achieve economic sustainability, which allows the company to remain financially stable and take care of their people through higher wages and other benefits. It’s now a requirement for a company of any size in any industry to make a positive impact on the world to the best of their ability.
So, how can you get started with smart manufacturing on your own? Here’s the smart manufacturing roadmap:
• Build a strong business strategy, and update it over time. This is your vision for the future.
• Empower your teams. Build a culture around your vision, and empower your people to make it happen.
• Streamline your processes. Offer trainings on strategies and tactics, and perform an assessment to identify gaps.
• Use connective technologies and connected things. You can build partnerships around solutions and technologies and engage smart manufacturing experts for help.
Smart manufacturing may be one of the only ways to truly achieve economic and environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility in concert with one another. It’s the new triple bottom line, and it’s no longer an option — I believe companies must achieve all three.
Read the full article in Forbes.