Do you have a story to tell about delivering net zero through digital manufacturing?

Our joint report with Policy Connect and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Manufacturing, Delivering net zero through digital, calls for greater visibility for both digital transformation and sustainability within UK manufacturing. Manufacturers looking to improve the efficiency and productivity of their operations can take important steps towards net zero by embracing and embedding digital technologies, at the same time.

 Previously, digitalisation and sustainability within manufacturing have largely been spoken of, separately, in isolation of one another.

Of course, many of the major manufacturers embraced digital technologies within their factories many years ago, reaping the rewards of faster turnaround times, increased product quality and improved productivity, with sectors and supply chains such as aerospace and automotive, among the early adopters. 

Post-COP26 and with new legislation on industrial decarbonisation and net zero in place, the sector is facing the perfect storm of increased international competition at a time when new investment, talent and leadership is needed to deliver urgent joint action on digital and sustainability now.

Read our report to find out more: Delivering net zero through digital

If you or your manufacturing business have a story to tell about your digital and net zero journey leave your comments below. 

  • Why did anybody bother writing that?  It's a big collection of buzzwords that doesn't actually say anything.

  • Former Community Member
    0 Former Community Member in reply to Simon Barker

    Thank you for your question and comment, Simon. Action on digital adoption and net zero have been patchy in some parts of the manufacturing sector. That was the verdict of the overwhelming majority of the industry practitioners attending the workshops which inspired this report. In collaboration with our colleagues from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Manufacturing, further activity on this topic is being planned so do please post any additional thoughts and ideas you may have, here.

  • Well, let me add a few words to SImon's observation. This is ostensibly a report on how digitalisation can help reduce non-sustainable resource us in manufacturing. There is not a single word in it which explains, in even one way, how digitalisation can help reduce non-sustainable resource use in manufacturing. So where is that information?

  • No positive recommendations in self sustainability made. Possibly they could encourage the need to :-

    1 Design and develop an economical city electric battery runabout car.

    2. Design and develop an ocean float-able rack of 11 one MW wind turbines

    3. Rehab and improve existing nuclear power stations

  • Or they could promote  designing electronics that is actually off or at least drops to a low power state most of the time, instead of staying on 24/7  just in case someone needs the internet at 4AM.

    The mania for digitising things and sending vast amounts of data because it seems to be almost free, or more accurately paid for by others is remarkably wasteful. Current estimates put about 10% of the UK electricity consumption into UK IT infrastructure of one form or another, and similar average figures for the whole planet, though there is a large variation in the estimates from different sources, some of whom think it will be more like 20% by 2025.

    It is fun to look at numbers from sites like Website Carbon  who run algorithms estimating the CO₂ a website produces per vist.

    Web designers could be encouraged to embrace minimalism, helping to reduce the energy required to load images, video and even specialised fonts that all require extra, sizeable files. Of course, this would need rather more cunning and less brute force to retain the same level of  internet experience.

    This website https://engx.theiet.org/f/ being mostly text, does quite well at 0.7 grams of CO2 per visit.

    Mike.

  •  Former Community Member  it will be good to see how our manufacturing sector respond with their accounts of how they made the switch to sustainability using digitization. Switching to a renewable electrical source may for some be a simple matter of switching provider. This is what a number of ISP DataCenters have done. Switching fuel providers for gas  or oil fired boilers may be more of a challenge but not impossible. Switching to a different boiler type may proove most successful

    Regarding efficiencies thereafter, smart metering at Electrical incommers or at key power panels (with a Power management system) will give a clear idea of which electrical systems are least efficient. If I remember and article in E&T ( Vol 10, Issue 4, may-2015) 40% of world electrical consumption was drawn by motors, then 19% by heat (or cooling) and 13% on lights. Looking at motor efficiencies would be a good quick start.  

  • Former Community Member
    0 Former Community Member in reply to Alan Rossney

    Many thanks Alan for those positive points! Manufacturers tell me there are always opportunities to save on costs within their factories yet some tell me they don't have time to take on major upheaval of their status quo. With current day concerns over the rising price of energy, the business case for capex to invest in a more efficient boiler will hopefully resonate loudly with FDs and ODs.

    We have to start making waste more visible across the factory floor. That goes beyond just energy and water. Digital can help us to gather the evidence and pull a plan together. Not everyone has discovered that we need to start talking about digital and sustainability in the same sentence. IMHO they are not separate exercises. They are now both urgent and vital. In the meantime, the conversation with IET members and colleagues on the options you raise can only help to shine a light on the opportunities available for all.

  • Former Community Member
    0 Former Community Member in reply to mapj1

    Thanks Mike, some great ideas.

  • Former Community Member
    0 Former Community Member in reply to CliveS

    These could make good economic as well as good environmental sense. Are we wrong to assume the private sector will take on challenges such as these (be they in  automotive, aero, marine, energy generation ...)?