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How Process and Manufacturing Facilities Are Leveraging Intelligent Data to Improve Sustainability

Digital transformation programs are typically considered in terms of cost reductions and profitability gains. But now that sustainability — as part of the wider Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) performance — becomes critical, you will need to assess how digitalization can assist. 

Done correctly, industrial digital transformation has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 15%, a significant step toward becoming a net zero organization. These results are achieved by increasing awareness of company processes and opportunities to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency (among others). 

 Digitalization in the manufacturing and process industries offers three key areas for improvement.

  1. Risk reduction

Human error remains a significant cause for concern; operator error can have a potentially catastrophic impact on the environment. The “domino effect” can lead small mistakes to quickly escalate to life-threatening disasters.  

With accurate, digitalized plant information and shift management, many of the most serious issues can be mitigated. Accurate, up-to-date information allows shift personnel to make smarter decisions more quickly, accelerating their response to potential problems and containing breaches before an environmental incident can occur.

  1. Process improvements

An important aspect of digital transformation is your “connected worker” strategy. This involves empowering front-line workers by providing them with quick and easy access to information about what is happening on the production floor.  

Contextual information allows workers to be more productive, efficient and safe. They can accurately prioritize workloads and activities, reduce waiting time and improve wrench time and first-time fix rates. A better-informed workforce can identify and reduce operational risk more quickly, keeping themselves, the plant and wider environment safe in the process. 

  1. Safer, more efficient operations

Digitalized operations provide operators with a real-time view of their installations without the need for physical site visits. Fewer visits mean less travel, helping to push down secondary carbon emissions, and limiting worker exposure to potentially harmful or risky industrial environments.  

Remote, real-time access to core operating systems will allow your team to optimize resource usage and reduce costly, unproductive waiting times. 

Reducing risk improves sustainability 

Ultimately, improved access to systems and data will allow your business to meet many of its strategic goals, including increased sustainability. As well as empowering your workers, digitalization offers new opportunities to automate operational activities.  

Automated systems are not only faster than manual processes, but also far less open to error. The more processes and safeguards you can implement, the lower the risk of experiencing an environmental breach or workplace accident. 

Improved access to data across your facilities will also allow you to analyze processes, pinpointing potential efficiency improvements. You will also be able to identify opportunities to reduce energy usage and emissions, or to design entirely new processes to increase reuse of materials and energy.  

A digitalized workplace is also seen to be a more attractive workplace for the new generation of digital native workforce, enabling employers to attract and retain the best talent available in the market.  

In the same way that data will define the future of your business, information will be a critical tool in helping you achieve your sustainability goals. 

To learn more about how data visibility and process management software can help businesses build a truly sustainable future, take a look at our latest eBook “How Digitalization Drives Sustainable Transformation”. 

About the Author

Adrian Park has been with Hexagon’s PPM division since 2007 and currently serves as the Vice President for Pre-sales for the EMIA region. From 2007 to 2018 he worked in Global Business Development for Information Management solutions. He is based in Sandnes, Norway.

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