How investing in technology can help manufacturers achieve sustainability goals

Jan 14, 2022 by Mark Dingley

Your aged technology may not just be hindering your sustainability goals. Learn 5 ways it could be costing you today!


Sustainability is the buzzword for 2021. Not a week goes by without another brand or retailer announcing they are setting a sustainability agenda, rolling out new biodegradable packaging or announcing new renewable energy solutions.

And the focus on sustainability only getting more intense – according to an IDC survey the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the urgency of tackling sustainability.

Coming into 2022, a growing number of manufacturers realise that sustainability needs to be on the agenda if they want to increase growth, global competitiveness, and brand awareness.

According to Ryan Collins, head of circular economy programs at Planet Ark, sustainability is a key driver of brand choice. In fact, when it comes to trust, it’s deemed more important to individuals than brands keeping people safe in the pandemic or a brand’s impact on economic recovery.

Obvious ways to achieve sustainable manufacturing include reduction of energy and water use, cutting emissions from manufacturing processes and reducing physical waste and recycling. Four Pillars recently announced its gin production will be powered by renewable energy using a 65.88 kW solar system installed on the roof at its Healesville distillery.

But sustainability requires more than renewable energy improvements; it requires manufacturers to look at opportunities to do business more sustainably throughout the production line, operation and even the broader supply chain.

Technology which help manufacturers

That’s where tech investments come in.

A massive 96% of manufacturers report that their investment in digital technology has improved environmental sustainability-related performance.


Digitisation is key

Digitisation helps make operations more efficient, and where operations are more efficient, they can be more sustainable too.

Less waste, less resources, less energy usage.

The data gathered by automation and digitisation provides manufacturers with greater visibility into their production processes, equipment wear-and-tear, wastage, and energy usage.

Armed with this data, manufacturers can optimise production to reduce material and energy waste. Data also help inform predictive maintenance, which helps equipment run more efficiency and therefore save energy.

Digital twins, for example, can be used for predictive maintenance and streamlining production processes, which makes better use of resources and materials.

Label Technology Melbourne

But the potential of digitisation goes beyond a single manufacturer.

Digitisation helps to share the data that makes supply chains more transparent, which leads to insights and decision making that can improve sustainability throughout the supply chain.

Data can be used to track performance through the cycle, from energy and waste to plastics, packaging, and product, which can generate insight into how sustainable the supply chain really is, and the opportunities for improvement. For instance, wineries are using drones to make better decisions about crops and water usage to curb water use, waste and pollution

Another way technology can be used is to optimise energy usage.

The Independent Brewers Association (IBA) recently developed a sustainability benchmarking tool to enable breweries to measure energy use, increase sustainability credentials and utilise efficient methods of managing energy, water and waste – all of which can help reduce operational costs.

Breweries can enter data into the tool to get real time feedback, so if one of their utilities is in the red zone, they can refer to the best practice guide and see what you can do to rectify the issue. This not only helps brewers of all sizes reach sustainability goals but can also help them improve profitability through data and evidence-based decisions on process improvements.

It’s win-win.

The bottom line

For manufacturers, it’s time to bring parallel investments in technology and sustainability together. There’s a long list of grants available to manufacturers looking to invest in technology and improve their operations, which can help achieve sustainability goals. So, now there really is no excuse. Learn more about what it means to be a sustainable manufacturer.