How industries can enable sustainable manufacturing in India

While sustainable manufacturing in India is still at a nascent stage, the sector has been gradually adopting lean and green measures such as optimized energy and raw materials use, resource and machine efficiency

June 7, 2021 4:04 PM
Manish Bhatnagar, MD, SKF India

The manufacturing sector is the backbone of any nation’s GDP and over the years, the sector has created an endless number of opportunities for all stakeholders. However, like any other industry, the sector consumes a great number of resources while generating a lot of waste leading to environmental damage. Thus, it is imperative that manufacturing industries strive for ‘Sustainable Manufacturing’ on an immediate basis.

While sustainable manufacturing in India is still at a nascent stage, the sector has been gradually adopting lean and green measures such as optimized energy and raw materials use, resource and machine efficiency and implementing environment-friendly practices to make a positive impact. By linking innovation and technological automation several manufacturers are reducing energy costs, limiting waste generation, and lowering emissions thereby eliminating risks of consequential environmental damages.

Here are some ways in which industries can enable sustainable manufacturing in India:

Define ESG goals for your company

Having a clear and well-defined path is key to developing a sustainable framework for organizations because goals provide observable and measurable results that can be achieved within a timeframe. Once a company defines the goals, it can start building an ESG program that aligns with those propositions. In fact, companies who are more committed to environmental, social and governance (ESG) benchmarking and reporting, continue to outperform their counterparts in the market through instances of market instability. Therefore, if companies want to maintain a competitive advantage and thrive in the future, they must begin to prioritize ESG efforts now.

Enable operational efficiency

There is no doubt that one of the most important things is to bring in operational efficiencies by delivering quality services with fewer resources. Manufacturers must evaluate and optimize manufacturing processes, refine energy-intensive processes, monitor energy consumption process units, lines, and equipment, and then manage total consumption, economics, and emissions to bring in greater efficiency.

Rethink lifecycle assessment

To gain a thorough perspective on business products and services as well as their footprints from purchasing, input materials, designs, transportation, manufacturing, and consumption and finally the end cycle, companies should implement life cycle assessment techniques. It is an approach to examine fully the environmental impact of the production of goods and services by corporations. In fact, life cycle assessment can provide excellent insight for organizations to identify the methods to reduce the environmental impact of a specific product or process.

Leverage renewable energy

Indeed, renewable energy is the future. Leveraging renewable energy is one of the best ways to create a more sustainable manufacturing facility. Renewable energy options can range from either solar and wind, to hydro, tidal and geothermal heat. With a massive shift towards electrification & dependency on solar energy, the manufacturing sector should also contemporize with the ongoing energy shift. The renewable sources require one-time investment, are environment friendly & contribute to the “Green Economy”.

Implement Industry 4.0

The manufacturing sector has been hit hard by the outbreak and the unexpected lockdowns. To overcome such occurrences, industries must invest in Digital factories and automation. Industry 4.0 is expected to play a significant role in achieving sustainable manufacturing in the future.

From an environmental perspective, Industry 4.0 helps in reducing waste generation through its streamlined manufacturing process and effective recycling and remanufacturing initiatives. It stands for dependency on the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing, promoting machine monitoring solutions, predictive maintenance strategies, and overall cost efficiency and streamlined operations.

Focus on 3Rs

We are familiar with the 3Rs as Reduce, Reuse & Recycle. This needs to be expanded to more R’s, such as, reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, redesign, remanufacturing, repurpose, refurbish, refuse, etc. Manufacturers must keep efficiency in mind when using machines.

For example, industries can implement using reusable or returnable bins for last-mile delivery rather than wasting resources on single-use corrugated boxes. Optimal operating practices such as waste minimization programs, loss prevention, and waste segregation can help in eliminating the chances of water pollution as well. Adopting technologies like measuring & cutting to make changes in the production process; equipment, layout, or piping; or operating conditions will be a profitable move for the industries.


India’s rapid economic and industrial growth, coupled with urbanization, has come at the high cost of increasing carbon emissions, rising demand for natural resources, and increasing waste generation. To overcome these challenges and minimize their impact, the Indian manufacturing sector will need to adopt sustainable manufacturing aggressively.

Several areas within manufacturing can benefit greatly from the adoption of green manufacturing practices. While there are a few early adopters, more and more companies, and the sector as a whole need to develop comprehensive plans to embark on this journey towards sustainable manufacturing.

Author: Manish Bhatnagar, MD, SKF India

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.

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