Avinash Mayekar: Engineer digitisation for effective sustainability
Turning into digitisation by adopting technologies for the same products is not the only way towards sustainability but creating a value chain through 4.0 technology adoption and introducing recyclable products to the mix is what the target should be, says Avinash Mayekar.
Recycle! Eco- Friendly! Go Green!
Are we not hearing these ‘3’ words all the way long whenever sustainability is spoken about?
Society, Economy, and Environment & Human, however, are the pillars of sustainability. With fair justice however’ recycling’, ‘eco-friendly’, and ‘go-green’ are the driving forces to achieve harmony among these four pillars of sustainability and this is why we have been focusing on the solutions to introduce them.
By now we have seen many steps being taken by industry towards sustainability and especially, the pandemic era trigged the rise of sustainability. From then we have speeded up the call for sustainability. It is now on to us for turning the practices into habits and creating a standardisation for all the sustainable activities in our factory. This is the key to a sustainable future.
Let “Go Green” and “Eco-friendly” not just be labels that change like the fashion seasons. Let us introduce a process for streamlining sustainability. For this to be a reality there is a need for all our machinery to be of the digital generation just like how we have become the digital world from the digital youth, digital savvy working-age, digitally oriented top management group as well as we have digital grandparents today. It is time to make this digitalisation a user-friendly service for our machinery as well. Let us see one by one what the least and most digitisation can be brought in to make sustainability a part and parcel of our manufacturing practices focusing on textiles.
So the very sure first adoption of digitisation as already done by many is Traceability.
Traceability is already the buzzword today and a lot of steps have been taken for its adoption. Mostly the mandates by Europeans have led to inclusion by many. These steps will not only ensure the quality aspects of the products but on a wider end will enable all the manufacturers to create an ecosystem of reliable products with fewer piles of reject stocks. The simple process of digital entries of raw material sources is the right way towards it. As there are tracking technologies brought into the picture this simple process of digitalising the raw material entry will save the long process of bringing in the paper works and running for paper deals when demanded by a buyer as with digitisation all will just be a click away. It will be available and sorted year, batch, and type-wise for the manufacturer.
Development of technology like the Textile Tracer Assessment which is a detailed guide to physical tracer technologies that apply to the textile supply chain is evident in itself of the demand that is already present for the traceability factor. This demand is accelerated when the world started looking for the “China +1” factor. It is up to us to adopt the practice of traceability completely with process and technology assistance to avoid spending manual time during times of dire need.
We all know that to be globally competitive we need to be sustainable across the value chain. And the only way we can do it is by adopting the way of development of the complete value chain in-house through integrated plants with the right balance of technology and digitalization. All brands are eyeing to get the final product that is being completely produced in an integrated plant.
Moreover, there are new products in the picture today. All technical textiles products are the demands of not just the global market but of our domestic market as well. However, just producing a part of the final product and letting the western world grab the higher margins on the finished products will not take us anywhere. We need to identify products with our experience and keep an eye on the complete development of the textile value chain. We need to take care of not just the technology, but also all aspects from production, quality, and social compliance to be competitive in marketing. Also, look at the scale of operation and select the appropriate technology, where we can be competent.
Now I think the time has come to introspect ourselves and think on
- What am I doing differently? Am I producing products for the future?
- Which are the opportunities right now in front of me?
- How I can do something different not from the mere point of view of earnings and more profits but also a long-term recognition in a niche area and with sustainability?
- Which market I am currently catering and which market do I wish to capture?
- Have I done market research properly? What is my SWOT analysis?
Let us take an example if at all I am a regular spinner,
- Have I over the years introduced something new to my product portfolio?
- Whether am I trying to introduce something different?
- What my customers are using my yarn for?
- What is my customer demanding additionally?
- Is it recyclable fibers? if so am I having the technical capability to produce them
- Finishes for technical performance capability- can I straightway introduce it?
So the mindset needs to be developed for not simply adopting sustainability by introducing digitisation to full swing where the investment runs into debts for a long period. But bringing the essential small changes. As small changes matter, the next generation should especially look out for the right small change that will make a huge difference in the not-so-far future. The conventional textile players should also eye the big avenues i.e. technical textiles which are available right in front of us, that come with the technology of today i.e. digitally synced up.
Questions like How? When?
In what? And how much of the investment?
These are the key questions for which answers must be sorted out. Especially look out for investments that are to be made only for introducing new product lines, innovations, or new processes that will altogether change the efficiency scale.
Enhancing productivity & adopting better technologies that consume less power & less water is the first step in selecting a balanced investment plan for new technology that will bring the sustainability practice into ease and also will lead to a reduction of operating costs. JIT (Just in time) adoption for raw material sourcing to the enactment of ERP & cloud computing is one of the many ways that will ensure that the investment in machine technology & industry 4.0 digital interface will be profitable & also a step towards sustainability.
Synergy with Industry 4.0 is the easiest way to sustainability adoption. It will provide the following benefits
- Improved efficiency
- Compliance friendly
- Better customer experience
- Better use of resources
- Faster manufacturing
- Less machine and production line downtime
- Fewer quality issues with products
- Less resource, material, and product waste
- Lower overall operating costs
Recycling to value addition All the above selections of technology for sustainability as well as for global competitiveness must ensure the creation of an innovative, profit-bearing product basket for the manufacturers. Thus the focus should be first on identifying the waste available in-house, in the vicinity then identifying the technical textile technology that can help us create multiple products from recycled fibers. It is a way of bringing in the value-added product basket turning waste into useful best
Moreover when it comes to recycling it is not just the recycling of finished products but recycling wherever possible of all the utility & production parameters right from water recycling & reuse to reducing the overall HVAC load requirements by utilizing efficient color cooling shades for the roof & wall finishes to ultimately when possible switching to the alternate power source like solar energy installations.
Be smart! Turning into digitisation by adopting technologies for the same products is not the only way towards sustainability but creating a value chain through 4.0 technology adoption and introducing recyclable products to the mix is what the target should be.
A few of the things which are easily available for bringing into practice are the adoption of techniques for recycling fibers introducing new product variants in it, and adopting renewable energy resources this will make a huge difference in margins as it brings down the cost of production, thorough retrospection of what one is doing. Change is the answer for all of us.
Very soon sustainability & recycling would be a pre-requisite and all green initiatives would get better sales price. While the units with best digitisation practices would reduce operating costs hence it would bring much better return on investments.
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