Sustainable Manufacturing Helps Companies Cope with Increased Global Competition | Article

Wipro Voice: A Conversation with NS Bala, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Manufacturing Business Unit, Wipro Technologies and Member, Wipro Council for Industry Research

Today’s resource-constrained world has elevated sustainable manufacturing to the status of an imperative. Sustainable manufacturing, which spans all manufacturing activities and value chain processes, is all about delivering products and services without impacting the environment in a significant manner.

For more than a century, the decisions manufacturers made were related to cost, function, and quality. Now they are adding another dimension: sustainability. “Sustainability has become a profound, board-level issue for manufacturers. Apart from compliance with existing and upcoming environmental legislations, a sustainable manufacturing initiative can help a manufacturer cope with increased global competition and growing supply chain pressure,” says Bala.

Sustainable manufacturing – a challenge and an opportunity

Depending on how you look at it, companies can view sustainability either as a constraint in manufacturing or as a tremendous opportunity to transform the way they do business. “The goal is to achieve more while spending less,” notes the Wipro executive.

Sustainability in manufacturing, while easy to state, is difficult to interpret and adopt. Organizations trying to embracing the concept across the enterprise face a variety of challenges. According to Bala, organizations struggle to:

  • Define their collaborative sustainability road map because multiple divisions own the sustainability
  • Arrive at a measurable and quantifiable return on investment (ROI) from sustainability projects
  • Execute and manage sustainability projects because multiple stakeholders are involved.
  • Find appropriate reporting systems because sustainability data lies across the enterprise in multiple systems and formats. The current reporting systems are incapable of providing sufficient intelligence to aid in decision making.

Sustainable manufacturing’s key focus areas

Today, a manufacturing organization’s sustainability champion faces a lot of pressure from internal as well as external stakeholders in four key areas of focus:

  1. Operations. Manufacturers must lessen their energy and resource usage, reduce emissions and waste generated across facilities/plants/offices, etc. and still maintain product quality. Bala says the solution lies in implementing concrete action plans based on comprehensive assessment and analysis of the as-is landscape of operations with assistance from IT-enabled decision making.
  2. Compliance. An increasingly stringent and government-driven regulations atmosphere, especially in the European Union, is slowly beginning to take shape, which goes beyond the Kyoto protocol in driving and enforcing a sustainable enterprise. Bala says the answer is being ready. That requires putting all the relevant facility, product, and material sustainability data points that may be lying across the organization into a single repository. This move enables reporting and complying in all the required formats.
  3. Product sustainability. Customers and industry watchers are increasingly demanding products that have a reduced environmental impact during their life cycle of usage. The challenge lies in ensuring that an organization has visibility into the life cycle environment impact of a product through all the life cycle stages from raw material acquisition, design, and manufacturing to usage and disposal. “Manufacturers have to apply that visibility to design greener products,” Bala suggests.
  4. Supply chain sustainability. Today, manufacturers have to enforce their manufacturing procedures across their complete value chain. Manufacturers have to have end-to-end knowledge of the best practices across their multi-tier supplier organization as well as their logistics and fulfillment practice. “This allows them to enable and enforce a sustainable supply chain. It is important both for short-term compliance as well as long-term business viability,” Bala says.

The common theme running across these four focus areas is sustainability, visibility, intelligence, and reporting. Today, however, Bala says manufacturers end up wasting a lot of time and effort in collating data, and analyzing and reporting on sustainability parameters. The Wipro executive says the result is assessment exercises are manual with minimum automation or auditing capability. “This leaves a question mark on the accuracy and reliability of data manufacturers use for decision making,” Bala notes.

The SMART platform

This is where Information technology can help. Wipro has designed and developed a platform — Sustainable Manufacturing Analytics and Reporting Tool (SMART) — that helps address some of the manufacturing pain points in sustainability across all four focus areas. SMART enables multiple stakeholders (such as senior executives, plant managers/controllers, and compliance managers) to make informed decisions on sustainability programs by providing a consolidated, organization-wide view across five key dimensions of sustainability:

  1. Energy
  2. Resource
  3. Emission
  4. Waste
  5. Recovery

Wipro’s system brings three components to the table:

  1. A robust sustainability data gathering and integration framework that is non-intrusive yet can collect and maintain data manually as well as automated from diverse systems (ERP/MES/PLM), whether on the manufacturing plant floor or throughout the extended supply chain.
  2. A strong, custom-built, manufacturing industry-based hierarchical data model and analytical engine that provides a range of spatial, temporal, and predictive analytics along with flexible data entry and reporting.
  3. Management-level drill-down reporting, compliance disclosures, external communication, and performance management via a host of features such as dashboards, trending, projections, benchmarking, and root-cause analysis. This data moves reporting to intelligence on all sustainability parameters across the manufacturing value chain.

The future of the sustainable automotive business: supporting green driving

The final responsibility for achieving the benefits of green driving rests with the driver on improving his driving behavior. A dashboard display could monitor aggressive acceleration, sharp braking, speeding, tire pressure, engine idling, etc. Wipro Technologies has developed such a solution. The EcoMeter Connect supports various stakeholders involved in emission-reduction efforts across all categories of cars.

This information would guide the driver to improve, with the Eco-Index providing the reference. The EcoMeter could transmit this data through a Telematics gateway to a server, which could provide driving inputs to owners, consumers, and fleet users, even various governmental agencies.

Insurance organizations could offer a green insurance benefit to drivers who drive greener. Fleet owners could improve their profitability by evaluating the fuel consumptions and driving habits of their drivers. Automotive dealers and service centers could use this powerful information to set used-car prices and arrive at extended warranty costs. Governments could use this data to substantiate decision making on policy matters. “All this would result in one final goal: to reduce the emissions and control energy consumption across the global road transport industry,” says Bala.

Wipro set up the Council for Industry Research, comprising of domain and technology experts from the organization, to address the needs of customers. It specifically looks at innovative strategies that will help them gain competitive advantage in the market. The Council in collaboration with leading academic institutions and industry bodies studies market trends to equip organizations with insights that facilitate their IT and business strategies. For more information on the Research Council visit www.wipro.com/industryresearch or email [email protected]


1 Comment on "Sustainable Manufacturing Helps Companies Cope with Increased Global Competition | Article"

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  1. Terri Tata says:

    Sustainability has some world-wide traction as a concept but it still needs to be shaped by a local culture and values template by people with active listening skills. The bottom line is that it is a two way street and profit margin can change quickly if things get lost in translation.

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