Implementing sustainability initiatives is a huge win for manufacturers who are not only helping the environment, but also helping themselves, since sustainability and profitability often go hand in hand. In fact, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, firms with a better Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) track record than their peers produced higher three-year returns, had stocks that were more likely to become high-quality stocks, were less likely to have large price declines, and were less likely to go bankrupt.
Data analytics can provide your business with valuable insights and inform data-driven decisions that lead to a more sustainable future. There are many areas where sustainability analytics can contribute to environmental conservation and protection. In this blog, I’ve decided to focus on greenhouse gas emissions since these are the biggest culprits in global warming.
Here’s a look at how you can use data analytics to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by optimizing three of its largest sources in manufacturing: transportation, energy consumption, and production.
Transportation should be a leading priority for sustainability in your business given its huge impact on the environment. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that transportation generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions (28% of 2021 greenhouse gas emissions). Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes.
Although transportation is one of the biggest challenges for sustainability, it is also an area where data analytics can have the most impact. These benefits are at the top of the list:
- Identify fuel conservation opportunities such as upgrading vehicles, reducing idling time and optimizing speeds
- Determine fuel-efficient routes and schedule deliveries to minimize travel time
- Maximize shipment utilization based on weight limits, available capacity, and more efficient packaging
- Predict potential delays due to traffic, weather, or other factors, adjust schedules, and reroute vehicles to minimize waste.
Sustainable Energy Consumption
Cleaner sources of energy are gaining ground, but most electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels. Electric power generates the second largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States (25% of 2021 greenhouse emissions). This is why it’s so important to install energy monitoring systems and smart sensors to collect real-time data on energy usage by equipment across different areas of your business.
Analyzing energy consumption data from these devices helps detect and resolve issues faster, which in turn leads to greater sustainability. Examples include equipment defects (heating and cooling equipment, lighting, ventilation, refrigeration, etc.), poor insulation, lack of weather-related controls, and occupant activity. Accurate forecasts of your energy consumption can also help you spot problems. If energy use is either less than or greater than what you would expect you may have a problem.
Greenhouse gas emissions from industrial production primarily come from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials (23% of 2021 greenhouse gas emissions).
Implementing smart sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to collect real-time data on various aspects of the production process, including equipment performance, material usage, and quality control is a must to achieve sustainable production. Analyzing this data can help you implement more energy-efficient equipment and processes, and detect defects or anomalies early in the production process to reduce scrap and rework. Also, simulation modeling can help you understand the impact of process changes before you implement them.
Sustainable production can also benefit from accurate demand forecasting and inventory analytics to help ensure that production aligns with actual demand to prevent overproduction or underproduction. Both of these situations can result in energy inefficiencies.
Sustainability Analytics with Actian
By analyzing transportation, energy consumption, and production data, you can greatly reduce your organization’s negative impact on the environment. The key is to continually gather data, analyze it to make data-driven decisions, and then adapt processes based on the insights gained from data analytics. More than a set of disconnected tools, the Actian Data Platform is a flexible and easy-to-use solution to connect, manage, and analyze your data, enabling you to drive greater sustainability through informed decisions.