Sustainable Manufacturing Practices: Eco-Friendly Strategies for Industry

Today’s most vital improvement initiatives for manufacturing companies center on operating more sustainably. Adopting eco-friendly practices benefits the environment by helping companies minimize their impact on the planet.

Making sustainability a top priority can also improve a company’s reputation. Consumers and businesses increasingly look to buy from or engage with companies actively striving to reduce their environmental impacts. Consequently, being “greener” can expand a manufacturer’s business opportunities. Conversely, ignoring customer or client concerns can make it more difficult to earn new business.

Many of the methods for operating more sustainably are well-known. These measures include using solar panels to harvest clean energy, purchasing hybrid or all-electric vehicles, implementing strict recycling requirements, and many others. One approach that people are less familiar with is using industrial manipulators, material handlers, and lift-assist devices to conduct manufacturing operations more efficiently and effectively.

How do these devices help companies achieve those goals? What actions can organizations take beyond the production line to be more sustainable? How does Dalmec support greener operations? This article answers these crucial questions.

Why Eco-Friendly Production Processes Are Essential

Before addressing how industrial manipulators and other devices help manufacturers streamline their operations, it is essential to understand why they implement these systems. As alluded to above, sustainable manufacturing practices provide several benefits, including the following:

Decreased environmental impact. Manufacturing processes — like virtually any use of technology by businesses or consumers — produce greenhouse gases and consume resources. Implementing systems to increase efficiency can reduce pollutants and optimize the use of energy and materials.

Reduced costs. Companies considering sustainability initiatives sometimes feel that the necessary operational changes will be expensive and ultimately deliver little, if any, return on their investment. However, increasing efficiency, reducing waste, using recycled materials, and other actions can lower operational expenses.

Improved regulatory compliance. Manufacturing businesses must adhere to laws regarding handling the waste they produce, how much pollution they generate, etc. Many find that improving the sustainability of their operations — to lower costs, impress clients, or because it’s simply the right thing to do — provides regulatory compliance as an unintended benefit.

Enhanced brand image. When choosing between companies with similar offerings but differing stances on sustainability, most consumers and businesses today will favor the organization with “green operations” and select them over their competitors.

Companies that pursue these benefits tend to have a distinct competitive advantage in their markets.

How Industrial Manipulators Support Sustainability

The impact of industrial manipulators, material handlers, and lift-assist devices on a manufacturer’s operations and sustainability varies based on several factors. However, companies can enjoy some or all of the following benefits from using these systems:

Leaner manufacturing. Organizations that implement industrial manipulators of various types and monitor their work quickly learn that the consistency of their operations enables process improvements. For example, many companies find they can eliminate unnecessary processing steps, optimize process flows, and reduce inventory levels. As a result, they can produce the same (or greater) output faster and with fewer resources.

Waste reduction. Implementing and fine-tuning devices to assist with manufacturing processes can significantly reduce the amount of scrap or waste produced. That means less material is sent to landfills.

Water conservation. Manufacturing processes that use water, such as cooling and cleaning, require less when precisely controlled by automated systems. As the world population increases and the demand for water resources grows, conservation is critical.

Pollution reduction. The efficiency enabled by industrial manipulators and other similar devices reduces energy consumption and, as a result, decreases the amount of greenhouse gases and pollution produced.

Increased productivity. Manufacturing processes that use industrial manipulators can operate longer without interruption. As a result, they can produce more output than processes that don’t leverage available technology.

Improved quality. Automated systems minimize variations in output, helping manufacturers deliver products with fewer defects. That means less rework (and less associated material and energy consumption). It also makes customers happy, increasing loyalty and creating new business opportunities through referrals.

Greater agility. Market demands can change quickly. Manufacturers who use industrial manipulators can rapidly adapt since they don’t have to retrain workers. They update their devices’ functioning to modify their output.

Enhanced innovation. Accommodating new or proposed product designs is significantly easier when industrial manipulators are involved in manufacturing. Full-scale production can resume as soon as the devices are redeployed to align with the new directions and testing is completed.

Reduced ergonomic injuries. Letting industrial manipulators, material handlers, and lift-assist devices handle heavy objects and perform repetitive actions can significantly reduce employee injuries. And that reduction means fewer lost workdays, workers’ compensation insurance claims, etc.

Reduced exposure to hazardous environments. Industrial devices can operate effectively in areas where workers can’t, such as those with extreme temperatures or where toxins are present. They can also handle hazardous materials safely and effectively, preventing accidents that can have devastating consequences.

Beyond the Production Line: Sustainable Supply Chains

Manufacturing companies shifting to more eco-friendly practices should also review their supplier relationships. Where you source your raw materials and components can significantly impact your company’s sustainability.

For example, obtaining resources from local providers reduces the transportation emissions generated. The materials or components must meet your quality standards, but when a local supplier can do that, they may be a better option. You also might pay less for resources since transportation expenses are reduced. Also, shorter supply chains are less susceptible to disruption.

It is also a good idea to seek providers who share your views on sustainability — from resource usage and waste management to labor ethics. They are more likely to be open to creating processes that maximize the ecological benefits of your relationship.

Educating Employees About Sustainability

While technology can support green initiatives, ensuring your employees are educated about your efforts and “all in” is essential. Training your workforce on how to execute manufacturing processes or use office resources more efficiently, reduce waste, and, in general, look for ways to be more eco-friendly can make a significant difference in the success of your sustainability programs.

How Dalmec Contributes to Eco-Friendly Manufacturing

In addition to the many ways our industrial systems enable more eco-friendly manufacturing, several general attributes of our products have the same effect. Those characteristics include:

Customization. We don’t believe in a “one size fits all” approach to industrial manipulators. Every company and production line is unique. Our devices are highly customizable, meaning there is no wasted motion or energy when they are deployed and optimized for their environment.

Reliability and durability. It’s common to see a Dalmec machine function as designed for two decades or more. That means less downtime and greater productivity. We also build our industrial manipulators, material handlers, and lift-assist devices to last. Companies that use them replace them less frequently than lower-quality devices, and consequently, they spend less on replacement costs.

Safety. We understand that the safety of employees is every company’s top priority. Every device we sell is engineered with safety in mind, and as an Italy-based company, our products all meet strict European safety standards. Companies that avoid worker injuries and the associated system downtime operate more efficiently and sustainably.

Final Thoughts

When companies began concerning themselves with sustainability many years ago, eco-friendly manufacturing practices were seen as “nice to have.” Today, taking steps to lower your company’s carbon footprint and ecological impact is imperative. Doing so is — first and foremost — good for the environment. And from a business perspective, companies that fail to do so can face public backlash, not to mention fines and penalties for failing to meet applicable standards.

The good news is that manufacturers can enjoy significant improvements in short order by implementing industrial manipulators of various kinds. Those businesses not yet ready to make that investment can, nevertheless, start moving in that direction by assessing their operations and determining how and where they can make improvements. Then, when the time is right, all they have to do is collaborate with Dalmec on which devices to implement and how to get the most value from them.

Trusted by manufacturers since our founding in 1956, we have broad and deep expertise in improving manufacturing operations. Companies rely on us as more than a systems provider. We become more of a partner and advisor to business owners and decision-makers. They know they can count on us for an honest assessment of their challenges and opportunities and full transparency on implementing and optimizing the devices they need.

Are you interested in learning how our industrial manipulators, material handlers, and lift-assist devices can help your company operate more sustainably? Whether you are ready to implement some devices today or are simply researching your options, we encourage you to contact us. Shifting to a higher degree of automation in manufacturing processes inevitably generates questions, and we’re happy to answer yours. You will find that we are a no-pressure technology provider that genuinely has your best interests at heart.

Contact our team today to learn more about our industrial manipulators and our company in general

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