New study provides guidance for rapid sustainability gains for manufacturers

Posted on 19 May 2022 by The Manufacturer

A new study by the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) outlines a series of recommendations manufacturers can follow to achieve rapid sustainability improvements.

Previous research by the IfM, part of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, indicates that that through increasing energy and resource efficiency, the UK stands to gain £10bn per annum in additional profit for manufacturers.

However, the manufacturing industry has some distance to go to achieve these targets, as highlighted by Professor Steve Evans, Director of Research in Industrial Sustainability at the IfM:

‘Around 90% the resources processed to create goods are not reaching the person for whom they are made, 50% of edible food is not eaten, and only about 50% full loading is achieved in freight trucks in the UK.’

The new study, carried out as part of the IfM’s Sustainability Association, a membership group for manufacturing organisations, identifies common themes, best practices, and critical success factors across businesses that achieved consistent, rapid sustainability improvements.

Professor Steve Evans, who leads the Sustainability Association, says:

‘Manufacturing organisations want advice on the best place to start with sustainability initiatives. They want to know what the best strategy is in order to provide the effective returns and avoid common pitfalls.

‘This study highlights some of these areas, for example – utilising continuous improvement capability – something that many manufacturing organisations already have expertise in.’

One recommendation for companies early in the sustainability journey involves the use of existing data, which Professor Evans says is an easy starting point:

‘Comparing data to see what performance looks like on good days against bad days is a useful starting point as the performance on good days has been achieved before, so any emerging targets can be achieved which is motivating for teams and helps with building momentum for change.’

Some of the critical success factors highlighted in the study included gathering sufficient and relevant data on the shop floor, building a culture of change, allocating roles of sustainability champions across sites and communicating with the right language.

The study into rapid sustainability improvements, including the 20-step checklist, can be downloaded through the IfM Engage website. Download the full report.

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