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How Emerging Green Technologies Are Impacting Manufacturing

Blog: Apriso Blog

greenhouse_gases_emissions

Figure 1: Source: US EPA

Over the following decades, the manufacturing industry will continue to transform into an industry that will be almost unrecognizable by today’s standards. New levels of interoperability, collaboration and remote monitoring are just a start – other new technologies and strategies may not even yet exist!

One thing that will be recognizable, however, is the increasing need to focus on best incorporating emerging green technologies (EGTs) into the manufacturing process. This is not only due to an increased awareness of climate change and our impact on the planet, but from the simple fact that EGTs can actually save businesses a lot of money in the long-run. It’s now in a company’s best interest to start thinking about how to incorporate these EGTs today.

Reduce Energy & Water Usage

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as of 2013 the Industrial sector directly accounted for 21% of all greenhouse gas emissions, the third highest category behind Electricity and Transportation (please see Figure 1).

The cost of energy and water is a major concern for manufacturers. Today, around 22% of GDP is produced in water-scarce areas. If we continue at this rate, then by 2050 this figure will increase to 45%, severely restricting these regions’ ability to grow (source: GrowingBlue). Avoiding this calamity will require manufacturers to look to long-term, annual savings rather than short-term solutions.

For nearly 150 years, steam has been the primary method of delivering heat in industrial settings. Thermal fluid heaters offer an alternative as an oil-based solution that can deliver the temperatures needed for present day manufacturing tasks – but can do so with much lower system pressures, and without water. Thermal oils can come from animal or vegetable fats or glycol as well as water. These types of heaters can be used in manufacturing processes used in a wide range of industries, including food processing, automotive as well as the publishing and print industries, with the hope of creating a more sustainable future.

More and more governments around the world are now taking climate change and the safety of the environment more seriously. For example, in California businesses and residents alike were required to cut their water usage by 25% as part of a state-wide mandate. Around the world, we’re seeing the creation of many government-led incentives for businesses willing to adopt new, forward-thinking measures.

The Need to Manage Energy Usage

The EU Emissions Trading System scheme, launched in 2005, was the first of its kind. Even now, it remains the largest greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world. Today, it is a major pillar of EU climate policy and aims to create financial incentives for thousands of factories, power stations, and other installations to reduce their emission levels.

Now, more than ever, it is necessary for manufacturers to pay close attention to how many natural resources and how much energy is being consumed. EGTs offer an alternative to help manage this cost, while at the same time, a way to help reduce the impact on the environment.

The cost of these raw material inputs are likely to raise in the future – even more so if the climate change remains unchecked. For these reasons, manufacturers are also investing in tracking systems for all costs, including those associated with energy.

Boost Brand Awareness

Fortunately, this topic has now become a top of mind issue for most consumers, who are more conscious of the consequences industry operations have on the environment. It is in a company’s own best interests to show how they are positively dealing with the situation – and communicating that plan to their customers.

According to research from Cone Communications, a record-high 71% of Americans consider the environment when they make purchases, up from 66% in 2008. One only has to look at the hotel industry to see how the washing of towels – unless absolutely necessary – is an extra service (and cost) many a hotel traveler will now gladly forego to help the environment.

Regardless of whether your business acts as an OEM or a supplier, your actions ultimately impact end users. Highlighting what your green initiatives are to the general public will help you retain existing customers and attract new ones. Not only is this a great way to get your brand name in the public consciousness, but it’s also an important aspect of manufacturing that is winning highly desirable government contracts, where green manufacturing standards are often an important factor.

 

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