Why Software is the key to Net Zero in the Manufacturing Industry

The Manufacturing Industry –

It’s no secret there is huge pressure on governments around the world to cut emissions and  decarbonise sectors of economies and the UK is no exception. The UK government has released their  targets of being Net Zero in all industries by 2050, and one of the most important sectors of the  economy that can have an impact upon this target is the manufacturing industry. 

With such a shift needed across all sectors of the economy, there has never been a bigger focus on  the benefits of digitalisation and automation and the benefits that this can provide in the pursuit of  becoming Net Zero.

Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash
The Role Software can play –

What technologies need to be utilised? In this article we’ll take a look into some of the options  available to organisations in the manufacturing sector , what they can do to take a step towards  net zero and increase the efficiency of their operations in the process. 

Firstly, to understand how we achieve Net Zero in manufacturing we need to  understand the Net Zero commitment itself. Net Zero refers to achieving a balance between the  amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount which is taken out of the  atmosphere. As one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, manufacturing  has a crucial role to play. 

A term and phrase that has gained traction in recent years is ‘Industry 4.0’. Industry 4.0 is a concept  based around the use of cyber-physical systems and how these systems, paired with automation and  data exchange technology, are becoming increasingly prominent within the manufacturing sector . 

Whilst there are many elements to the industry 4.0 concept, this article will aim to focus on what we  believe are the most important aspects many organisations within manufacturing  could start to implement within their manufacturing environments.

Cloud Computing
Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

We’re all aware of how cloud computing generally works: Microsoft, Amazon, Google, just to name a  few, all have services providing dedicated virtual servers which can be accessed remotely via the internet in order to  store, manage and process information in a quick and efficient manner.

But how does this benefit manufacturers?

Well, to put it simply a manufacturer can securely, easily store and process the vast quantities of data relating to the manufacturing process in a virtual dedicated space. However, in order to truly benefit from this, we need to go a step further.

A manufacturer will start to see the efficiency increases they desire when the cloud systems used can be paired with machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

These can provide high level improvements to the manufacturing process and paired with other technologies and systems such as cyber-physical systems and machine-to-machine communications, manufacturers have the ability to scale and increase efficiency across all areas of their operations.

Machine Communication

Exactly as it sounds, this system would allow machines to be connected, either wirelessly or wired  and communicate with one another. 

Whilst this may sound underwhelming initially, a system such as this can unlock a huge amount of  potential and would help improve efficiency and productivity throughout the factory floor. For  example, if a machine is awaiting another to finish a task, it may be able to shut down or go to  standby mode, saving energy and reducing the overall operating costs for  the organisation. 

As there are many options for a manufacturer to choose from in terms of the software and  technology available to them, it’s perhaps important to realise the more of these technologies  adopted, the greater the return on investment and the better chance the organisation has of  reducing its costs, environmental impact and becoming a true ‘smart organisation’ including its  supply chain.

However, it is not just the organisation’s operations that could benefit from the use of technology  and increased efficiency. For instance, take the wider supplier chain of a manufacturer; if an  organisation that is part of this supply chain process increases efficiency and improves the way they operate, there is potential for the manufacturer to adapt their process and systems to  take advantage of these changes. 

One of the simplest ways to think about this is to picture each technology as a link in a chain; only with enough links would the manufacturer be able to pull themselves closer to the end goal – Net  Zero and increased operational efficiency.

Summary –

As we draw to the end of this article, only one question remains – How do we know this? The answer  is simple – We’ve experienced and built these technologies first hand! 

The Curve has been a part of multiple projects in which the end goal has been to adapt current  manufacturing systems in order for them to become more efficient and effective in the day to day  operations.

Take the FourJaw project. In this project we built a platform in order  to allow manufacturing professionals to make quick and tangible improvements to their operations. 

The premise behind the project was that whilst FourJaw could collect the necessary data needed to  streamline operations using their Manufacturing Execution System, there was no way to easily  present this information in a way which was accessible and digestible.

The Curve developed a live dashboard that could present the real-life data from the Manufacturing  Execution System in a user-friendly way and would allow manufacturing professionals to have the  quick access needed so they could make tangible improvements to their operations.

The FourJaw Dashboard

As well as this The Curve has also been part of the EnableChain® project in collaboration with  Enable Manufacturing  where the end goal was to develop a bespoke supply chain management system as there  was no off the shelf solution available. 

Enable Manufacturing required a digitalised supply chain that could track and trace the jobs in the  process from order to invoice. The solution drastically improved their efficiency and made it possible  to deliver metal parts to their customers within four weeks.