How Robotics Contributes to Sustainable Manufacturing

Environment-friendly manufacturing processes are vital to the success of  businesses. Consumers care about the way that products are made, and how they can be recycled or reused. To meet the needs and concerns of consumers, manufacturers of all types are turning to robotics to grow their sustainable practices.

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Reducing Carbon Footprints

Robots are being created and used to reduce manufacturers’ carbon footprints. Factories and ports are known for releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Thus, encouraging climate change. Some ports are turning to use automated robots to reduce their carbon footprint. Instead of gas-powered trucks and tools, robotic vehicles are being used instead. The robots do not rely on fossil fuels for power, so their engines run clean.

Speeding Up Recycling

Robots can take tedious jobs and speed them up. One of the jobs that robots are good at is sorting recycled material. They can do it quickly and efficiently, and they do not require all of the safety gear and training that humans need. Humans can sort about 800 items in an hour, but robots can sort around 2,000 items in the same amount of time.

Cleaning Tanks More Efficiently

Another place that robots are helping the environment is in chemical plants. These plants have massive tanks that need cleaning on a regular basis. The tanks have small openings, and they are filled with toxic chemicals and volatile gases.

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In the past, humans have had to enter these confined spaces to clean the tanks. They had to be trained in several safety procedures, wear a plethora of safety gear, and undergo decontamination procedures each time they left the tanks. Now, robotic tank cleaning can do it in a fraction of the time, using less water and cleaning materials. They take away the danger from human employees, and robots can work 24 hours per day.

Improving Sustainable Manufacturing

Robots are being used in different types of manufacturing to create more efficiency with fewer resources. Robots reduce errors, so less waste is produced. One computer company is relying on robots to pick reusable parts out of recycled products. This type of manufacturing sustainability includes recycling, reusing, and reducing. Less waste is produced and the robots are able to find and separate the small parts more efficiently than human hands can.

Cleaning Natural Resources

Robots are also being used outside of manufacturing to help with green living. Several organizations rely on robots to clean waterways. These robots float atop the water and collect the trash as it floats. Another water-cleaning robot is able to digest pollution. The robot turns the trash into fuel that powers the boat and that controls it. Inventors are working on upscaling the robot so it can power large tankers and cargo freighters, too.

Robots are also used to clean plants that become dirty from the garbage and grime in the water. By cleaning water and flora in it, robots are protecting the lives of animals that make their homes in wetlands and coastal areas. They also help clean food supplies for people.

Sustainable Manufacturing: Eco-Friendly Ideas For Your Plant

The industrial sector, which includes the manufacturing industry, is the third largest global source of greenhouse gas emissions. Shockingly, the sector emits roughly 21% of all greenhouse gasses, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals. Fortunately, there are a number of ways manufacturing companies can lower their carbon footprints, adopt eco-friendly equipment and practices, and become more sustainable.

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Audit energy use

Manufacturing plants typically use huge amounts of gas or electric energy. Adopting energy-efficient practices to optimize the plant’s energy use can slash costs considerably. Start by conducting an energy audit — ideally during the next scheduled plant downtime — to identify areas requiring improvement. HVAC systems, in particular, are huge energy and money drainers. Replace the filters and insulation so hot or cold air doesn’t escape. Repairs may also be needed. Temperature controls can be precisely automated with a programmable digital thermostat.

Additionally, common industrial lighting like incandescent bulbs should be switched out for LED lighting, which uses 75% less energy and lasts 25 times longer. Keep track of your eco-friendly changes and monitor energy use to make sure you’re operating at maximum efficiency.

Minimize waste

Reducing manufacturing waste is an effective way of making your plant more sustainable. For example, limit the quantity of excess raw materials your plant has in stock; order just enough material for the job it’s needed for each time. Work on recovering waste from both onsite and offsite locations with the help of techniques like centrifugation, electrolysis, reverse osmosis, or filtration.

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Alternatively, recycling materials is a simple way to recover useful materials (recycling hazardous materials, however, usually isn’t eco-friendly). High-power, industrial shredders, in particular, can help you deal with a number of waste materials (such as, wood, plastic, rubber, and asphalt) by considerably reducing their size. Investing in durable equipment also reduces waste. For example, Bobcat T190 tracks are designed to minimize wear and tear to the tire. The thick, high-quality rubber lasts longer, so the tires need replacing less often.

Switch to renewable energy

Switching to renewable energy can help your plant generate its own clean electricity and heating. In fact, by 2035, renewable energy is set to be the main global power source, according to the 2019 Clean Jobs America report. Green power sources like solar, wind, biomass, geothermal heat, and rain are also cheaper than traditional fossil fuel energy sources.

Depending on your state, you may also be able to benefit from tax incentives and earn money back. You can also support renewable energy by selecting a renewable electricity tariff with your supplier. This means either some or all of the power your plant uses will be matched by your supplier purchasing green energy.

Making your manufacturing plant more eco-friendly certainly isn’t an overnight job. However, it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to make positive and permanent changes. Switching to sustainable practices and equipment will help the environment, save energy, and improve your bottom line.