From the editor's desk: Sustainability – the holy grail of digital transformation

April 2021 News

As we head into our post-pandemic future, one of the morals we are left with is the importance of sustainability in business. So, while industry leaders ponder how best to incorporate sustainability into the organisational mission profile, thanks to smaller onsite workforces and social distancing adjustments, they do so with a deeper understanding of how the latest digital technologies can be deployed in the interests of corporate survival.

Steven Meyer.

It is interesting to note then, how the theme of sustainability has started to dominate this year’s manufacturing conferences and user group exchanges. At a recent media briefing for Emerson’s EMEA 2021 User Group Exchange, for instance, CTO Peter Zornio identified sustainability and operational analytics as the dominant topics in manufacturing at the moment.

So, while it is generally true that many companies have struggled to reproduce the benefits of digital transformation as outlined in the marketing brochures, perhaps this is because they didn’t really have a reason to commit further than the odd dalliance with a digital transformation pilot project. What the pandemic brought to our attention though is the inordinate amount of unnecessary waste there is associated with many of our manufacturing processes, despite the fact that we considered them to be lean and mean.

As manufacturers responded their way through COVID-19, not only did they need to ensure the safety and security of their workforces, but they also had to focus on a shift in customer demands as shoppers moved their purchasing power online. To meet these new priorities, technology as a key enabler became more important than ever before. One of the benefits of this was to accelerate change in sustainability.

What seems to be happening then is a spill over of the ideas of digital transformation into the areas of sustainable manufacturing and corporate social responsibility. Under this umbrella, digital transformation takes on a new significance as manufacturers realise that the same digital technologies developed to analyse process related data with a view to maximising production output, can also be used to minimise energy consumption, carbon emissions and material waste.

But, just as very few companies have the means to accomplish digital transformation on their own, so strategic partnerships will likely be the key to implementing a sustainable manufacturing strategy. With this in mind, the team at SA Instrumentation and Control has decided that in the interests of keeping our readers properly informed with regard to the latest trends in manufacturing, there should be more emphasis given to the subject of sustainability, both in the material we produce for electronic and the material we produce for print distribution.

Actually, what we hope to bring you is the latest thinking in how the ideas of the IIoT and digital transformation can be deployed to bring the critical matter of sustainability front and centre in the first of the industrial revolutions forced to consider the impact of industrialisation on our fragile environment.Readers interested in ramping up their sustainability initiatives, watch this space.

Steven Meyer

Editor: SA Instrumentation & Control


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