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How immersive technology is helping manufacturers be more sustainable

Before we jump into the robot talk, let's first chat about what sustainable manufacturing is and why it's so important right now.

With an annual output of £183 billion, the UK remains the ninth-largest manufacturing nation in the world.

This means that the manufacturing industry is responsible for a large amount of the UK's energy consumption and carbon footprint.

You've probably heard that the UK has a goal of reaching Net Zero emissions by 2050, and manufacturing is a key area where transformation can (and needs) to happen.

This is where sustainable manufacturing comes in…

Sustainable manufacturing (sometimes known as green manufacturing) represents a holistic approach to the manufacturing process to reduce negative environmental and economic impact.

Companies that operate a sustainable manufacturing process can reduce waste and decrease the effect it has on the environment. It aims to create energy and money-saving processes, which reduce carbon emissions whilst conserving energy and natural resources.

A survey published by McKinsey states a resilient sustainability strategy can reduce costs and affect operating profits by almost 60%.

Running a sustainable production can also build relations with the government and local community, as well as leading to tax incentives and subsidies.

While we can't change the past, the focus should now be on ensuring a cleaner, greener, and brighter future.

How is immersive technology helping?

Now we understand all about sustainable manufacturing, it's important to understand how immersive technology can play a part in helping manufacturers achieve their sustainability goals.

Enter the robots….

Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, and immersive technology such as Augmented Reality ( AR) and Virtual Reality ( VR) can help manufacturers reduce waste and energy in their production environments by removing unnecessary steps from their current processes.

AI can help manufacturers be more sustainable in several ways:

Supply chains - AI can help manufacturers optimise their supply chains, which can reduce transportation, emissions, and increase efficiency. It can also analyse transportation routes, shipping schedules, and other factors to identify opportunities for improvement.

Helping to produce the products of tomorrow - AI can help product development be more sustainable by optimising energy efficiency, reducing waste, enhancing recyclability, predicting and promoting sustainable materials. This allows companies to be able to create products that are better for the environment.

Predictive maintenance - AI can predict when equipment will need maintenance, which can help manufacturers prevent costly and timely breakdowns. By being more proactive manufacturers can reduce their energy usage and carbon emissions.

Waste reduction - AI can help manufacturers reduce waste by predicting maintenance needs, optimising production processes, improving quality control, and optimising supply chains. By using AI manufacturers can reduce waste and improve their environmental impact, while also saving money and improving the efficiency of their operations.

Real-time tracking: AI can provide real-time tracking of shipments and inventory, allowing manufacturers to optimise their supply chain in real-time. By identifying and addressing any delays, manufacturers can reduce transportation emissions and increase efficiency.

Utilising AR and VR experiences

Take a look at how we worked with Godiva, part of IDEX Fire and Safety, the world's leading specialist emergency services equipment provider, to deliver an immersive digital experience.

AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) can also help manufacturers be more sustainable in the following ways:

Remote Collaboration: AR and VR can enable remote collaboration between teams and partners, reducing the need for travel and transportation. This can help manufacturers reduce their carbon footprint and increase efficiency by allowing teams to work together virtually.

Virtual prototyping: AR and VR can be used to create virtual prototypes of products, reducing the need for physical prototypes and the associated material waste.

Training and education: AR and VR can be used for training and education, reducing the need for in-person training and the associated travel and transportation helping to reduce carbon footprint.

Virtual maintenance: AR and VR can be used for virtual maintenance of equipment and machinery, reducing the need for the associated travel and transportation.

Visualisation of sustainability data: AR and VR can be used to visualise sustainability data in new and interactive ways, allowing manufacturers to better understand and address sustainability challenges. For example, AR and VR can be used to visualise energy usage data or carbon emissions data, allowing manufacturers to identify areas for improvement and take action to reduce their environmental impact

According to a recent global Harris Poll survey of cross-industry leaders commissioned by Google Cloud, manufacturing executives are among the most committed and engaged when it comes to sustainability.

What other challenges can immersive technology solve for manufacturers?

A study released by the UK government highlighted how human error on the production line is at the root of the 10.2 million tons of food that is wasted annually in that country.

It is no surprise that global manufacturers are now quickly turning to immersive technology to fix the issue, and eliminate anything that doesn't add value but instead adds waste.

Additionally, safety is one of the main priorities for all manufacturers. VR can provide a safe environment for employees to learn and practice safety procedures, such as handling hazardous materials or operating dangerous machinery without putting themselves at risk. This allows employees to develop the skills and experience needed to handle the situation in real life.

Another challenge manufacturers face is the skills gap in quality assurance, one way of tackling this is through automation and immersive technology. This can ease the burden on the existing team and remove some of the repetitive manual processes that put people off seeking those types of jobs.

Immersive technology can help manufacturers drive a more efficient use of resources, minimise waste and reduce energy consumption.

Examples of manufacturers who use immersive technology to be more sustainable

The biggest companies in the automotive manufacturing industry, such as Tesla, Ford, Audi, Porsche, and Mercedes have all already made use of artificial intelligence, and apart from that, have taken part in multiple sustainability initiatives, trying to be more ecologically friendly.

By incorporating immersive technology, optimising operations and reducing emissions, companies can take meaningful steps toward net-zero goals and a sustainable future.

It is recommended that manufacturers should form partnerships with digital marketing and technology companies, in order to assist them and provide the immersive solutions they require.

We have formed a number of partnerships and worked on several successful immersive projects that have helped manufacturers achieve their goals.

You can take a look at our success stories here.

Book your FREE discovery call today with our team of experts and let's discuss how we can help you achieve your manufacturing goals.

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