Today, technology has grown in leaps and bounds and is now something we constantly rely on. In manufacturing, technology can describe tools and processes made to improve efficiency, as well as increase the quality and productivity of manufacturing operations. Green technology has the same premise but with the outcome being that these technologies would follow green principles. For example, these technologies would increase clean energy, decrease waste, reduce emissions, increase recycling materials, and more. The idea is that by adopting these green technologies the company is taking steps towards combating climate change but also increasing their efficiency and profitability, without negatively impacting the environment.
Renewable energy and storage technologies have developed massively over the years, and is something manufacturers should take advantage of. Factories and plants need large amounts of energy on a stable, continuous basis in order to maintain their operations. By taking advantage of storage measures, manufacturers can have reliable energy and increased grid resistance that can withstand supply and demand.
Examples of manufacturers using renewable energy and storage include SPIC, who use their plant to develop fertilizers that use Greenam Energy’s floating solar power plant. SPIC is able to use this solar energy to run their operations, but also sell excess power to that state grid, allowing for another income stream. Another example is Circular Economy Manufacturing who use a MicroFactory, completely run on solar energy and storage.
A big problem in manufacturing is the industrial waste produced from products or consumers using the products. An opportunity here is for manufacturers to generate energy or another product from the waste, even better if the product is further used in operations. A green technology that could be used here is the process of plasma gasification. This is where waste is heated to break down into hydrogen and carbon products. This process prevents the waste from being disposed of improperly while simultaneously producing hydrogen, which can then be used to generate electricity.
An example of manufacturers using this technology is Manali Petrochemicals Limited. They use a Vapor Absorption Machine which produces chilled water from their heat sources and waste, which is then also used in their operations.
When people think of technology they may think of computers or Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is also something manufacturers should take advantage of. An example of this is using AI to track their emissions. By using AI, it is possible to track emissions easily, but also understand their effects and develop solutions to be more sustainable. By using AI and Internet of Things (IoT), it is possible to make data collection easier. And by using this data, emission hotspots can be highlighted, making it easier to figure out where and how emissions need to be reduced.
Lastly is green architecture, making infrastructure itself more sustainable. This results in improved energy efficiency, less construction pollution, but also any waste from renovations. From a manufacturing standpoint, it would be beneficial to be mindful of the architecture in order to save money in operations. An example of this is building “self-fuelling” infrastructure that would use natural light and air circulation, but could also recycle gray water (water from manufacturing equipment), which can then be used for irrigation or sanitation.
Advanced Technology Services, Inc. (2023). What is Manufacturing Technology?. https://www.advancedtech.com/blog/manufacturing-technology/
AM International. (2022). Green technologies that can drive sustainability in manufacturing. https://aminternational.sg/green-technologies-that-can-drive-sustainability-in-manufacturing/