Featured Image

Make It Greener: Manufacturing Improvements for a Healthier Earth

We can make it greener! While it may be difficult to make big changes all at once, even just a few smarter choices can have worthwhile environmental benefits. In honor of Earth Day, here are some ways manufacturers can reduce their carbon footprint.
Apr 20, 2022

Being more eco-friendly goes beyond recycling chips. There are multiple ways that manufacturers can be more sustainable. While it may be difficult to make big operational changes all at once, even just a few smarter choices can have worthwhile environmental benefits.

“Customers today are looking for more sustainability-minded suppliers and may even require it,” says Gene Skiba, CEO at NewSoTech, a company that helps manufacturers improve efficiencies and reduce carbon footprints. “Plus, many environmental improvements have cost benefits over time, making them good business investments that lower the total cost of ownership.”

Here are five ways manufacturers can go greener.

  1. Reduce energy consumption The best way to use less energy is to operate more efficiently. Automation often saves energy because it is consistently accurate and efficient, and manufacturers can run lights-out shifts in some cases, and energy is typically cheaper during “third shift” hours. Collecting data about the shop’s equipment may help identify the energy hogs, so they can be replaced with efficient machines. Additive manufacturing (AM) may potentially offer a lower-energy option than traditional subtractive manufacturing methods, as machines may operate less and shorten the supply chain. Learn more about how AM saves energy in this article from Design News.

  2. Use renewable energy sources Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal are becoming more viable energy options today, and they may not cost anything to adopt them. There are federal, state, and local grants and loans available to help manufacturers with new energy projects. See the U.S. Department of Energy’s page about funding, or contact local utilities to inquire about funding opportunities.

  3. Choose sustainable materials Materials are considered more sustainable if they are made from recycled media or were produced at a factory with a low carbon footprint. There are high-quality polymers, metals, plastics, and textiles made using more sustainable production processes.

  4. Reduce waste Although recycling waste products is a good sustainable measure, avoiding the use of excess materials in the first place is even better. For example, AM is a more sustainable manufacturing option because it only utilizes the material needed. Automating more tedious jobs eliminates the chance for human error (and rework). Robots get it done right every time, so there are no mistakes to throw away.

  5. Extend part longevity Longer-lasting components reduce waste. This may require changing the type of material used or adding coatings to protect parts from corrosion, thermal cycling, galling, or other harsh elements. Parts may cost more initially, but extreme durability can lower total lifecycle costs by reducing unplanned downtime and extending service intervals.

By thinking longer-term, manufacturers can take steps to improve their sustainability. It’s a good investment in the business and the planet.

Tim Shinbara
Chief Technology Officer
Recent technology News
AMT member Hardinge Inc., a global provider of high-precision, computer-controlled machine tool and workholding solutions, will be reshoring its General Precision Turning and Milling production line from its Taiwan facility to Elmira, New York over the...
Vulcan Machine Co. (Vulcan), a new manufacturing start-up founded by recent James Madison University (JMU) graduates, has successfully pivoted twice to take advantage of market opportunities. Company founders were originally developing large-format...
As you drive around town, you’ve probably noticed an increase in the number of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) on the road. Chances are you own one yourself. What is it about HEVs that is making them increasingly popular?
Sustainable manufacturing technologies must aim to improve (or at least to maintain) performance while reducing economic, environmental and social costs. This goal can be achieved by investing in the development of new technologies.
Similar News
By Stephen LaMarca | Sep 17, 2022

‘Hands-off’ training. Arm institute calls for AI survey participants. Forget the G-Wagon and the Supra – Magna wants to make delivery robots now! Amazon's plan to purchase Cloostermans. But seriously.

5 min
By Stephen LaMarca | Sep 17, 2022

Georgia tech awarded $65 million in government cheese. Computers do art better. American rescue plan regional challenge winners. Military industry automation. McLaren F1 testing with AM.

5 min
By Benjamin Moses | Sep 09, 2022

Ben and Steve are packing up for IMTS2022 and discuss their packing strategies. Benjamin introduces an article on robot risk assessment. Stephen talks about an aftermarket air filter for consumer polymer 3D printers ...

27 min