Technology Record - Issue 22: Autumn 2021

138 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om R esilience and sustainability are two con- cepts that go hand-in-hand to define the new era of manufacturing. Sustainability is, after all, built on efficient use and reuse of resources across the product life cycle, from materials and processes to equipment and skills. And those same efficiencies are essential for manufacturers to respond quickly to changes in customer demand, inventory availability and regulatory requirements. This synergy between operational efficiency and environmental, social and governance agendas – which were once seen as separate issues – was brought home in the early days of the pandemic as supply chains faltered and market needs veered rapidly from seasonal expectations. In the new reality that is emerging after more than a year of global disruptions, resilience and sustainability remain top of mind, says Colin Masson, global industry marketing director of manufacturing at Microsoft. “Digital trans- formation rapidly accelerated during the pan- demic as manufacturers sought to work around the restrictions and meet changing demands,” he says. “Now, that ongoing transformation is structurally changing industries from retail to healthcare and manufacturing, all of which have had to find ways to ensure continued productiv- ity that would support the economy and society.” Across the industry, Microsoft’s collaboration with key manufacturers has resulted in outstand- ing sustainability outcomes. “A group of ‘light- house’ manufacturing companies, identified by the World Economic Forum (WEF), in collabora- tion with McKinsey & Company, are leading the way here,” says Masson. “For example, at oneWEF Lighthouse Schneider Electric has reduced as much as 78 per cent of its carbon footprint using Industry 4.0 technologies and Microsoft Azure. And we have helped stainless steel manufacturer Outokumpu leverage artificial intelligence and Azure to increase output by 15 per cent while reducing quality defects by 40 per cent and cut- ting emissions. Customers have also showcased their ability to drive new product-as-a-service opportunities while addressing sustainability, such as Buhler Group with its food safety initia- tives and Ecolab which is solving the world’s water challenges with Microsoft’s cloud technologies.” A recent WEF report found that despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, 93 per cent of lighthouse sites increased their product out- put and found new revenue streams. For many, environmental sustainability was integral to that BY J ACQU I GR I F F I THS Manufacturers are using cloud-enabled tools to put sustainability at the heart of efficient, collaborative operations. Microsoft’s Colin Masson tells us more F E ATUR E Objective: sustainability