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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. 

  •  , last month I was lucky enough to visit Wyke Farms in Somerset to hear Richard Clothier talk about his family business' approach to sustainability and about Ivy's Reserve "The World's First Carbon Neutral Cheddar". Three thoughts from my visit:

    1. firstly, a reminder that food manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, yet not one always associated with technology advancement
    2. secondly, that food production contributes around 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Nature FoodDOI: 10.1038/s43016-021-00358-x) hence warranting our attention as engineers
    3. thirdly, the sheer level of supply chain data that Richard has at his fingertips to help him understand the cradle to grave footprint of his product, and how this has informed a net zero action plan to minimise emissions that importantly recognises offsetting as a temporary solution

    Net zero thinking like I saw at Wyke Farms requires a systems approach, which implies the need for business collaboration and information sharing that digitisation can undoubtedly enable, so long as we have the sense of purpose to start with. 

  • Former Community Member
    0 Former Community Member in reply to David J Matthews

    That's a fabulous story, David. Thank you for sharing. Richard's net zero journey with the Wyke Farms business is hopefully delivering financial as well as environmental success too? You're absolutely right when it comes to the importance of the sector. As consumers, I sense we are all becoming more concerned about the origin, traceability and labelling of the foods we buy. Technology and, moreover, engineers will have a huge part to play in the future, delivering the supply, security and sustainability of the foods all we eat and enjoy!       

  • Alan, one of the benefits of being an independent, family-run business is that decision-making can be in the best interests of a wide range of stakeholders. Over the last five years Wyke Farms have developed their Anaerobic Digestion plant to the point where they now export surplus gas back to the grid, making them a more resilient business today thanks to Richard's wise words: "treat every resource as finite".

  • Former Community Member
    0 Former Community Member in reply to David J Matthews

    David, If farmers across the country were in a position to apply the same pioneering zeal as Wyke Farms then you have to hope their sector would be much better placed to take on its many challenges! It's an inspirational story which needs telling across other industries. Do you think we might get to the point where every factory / manufacturing plant in the UK is capable of generating all the energy it needs to survive and thrive?    

  • great story about sustainability net zero in the Agri-business.

Reply Children
  • Alan, there's such a dilemma when it comes to recounting these stories from food and drink because there are so many different perspectives to consider: animal welfare, food waste, human health, ethical trade, environmental impact and so on. I've come to accept that emotions run high, that most food systems are imperfect and therefore that we need to highlight the positive steps that businesses take to do more good.