3 Nov 2021
Sustainability Spotlight: Innovating the path towards sustainable business growth
This week the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed that over three-quarters of residents – more people than ever – were concerned about climate change in March 2020. As environmental awareness grows, businesses are also under pressure to pursue green ambitions with the engineering and manufacturing sectors a particular focus.
Embedding sustainable practices into the fabric of a company, and moving away from take-make-waste culture towards a circular economy, means tackling all aspects of business and the value chain – infrastructure, technology, supply chains, product and service lifecycles, general operations, logistics and more.
Innovation and pioneering industrial advancements are the core of this change… and so too is communication in bringing customers on that sustainability journey.
Ben Sharp, Head of Operations at Bloc Digital, explores how we’re supporting businesses to tackle this multilayered sustainability challenge with long term, process-focused solutions as well as how we’re reducing our own environmental impact.
Supporting the industry transition
Providing a full spectrum of support, we’re not only enabling clients to showcase their sustainable advancements through engaging media but are driving sustainability through innovation – helping them put plans into action by pioneering technology solutions for industry. We’re developing virtual environments that reduce the need for travel, harnessing Industry 4.0 data to optimise the processes of our manufacturing sector clients, and with digital at our core, are mindful of our own operations too.
IIoT and Industry 4.0
A great example demonstrating how is our research and development involvement in the Innovate UK-funded UltraMQL collaboration. Together with leaders from academia and industry, we are developing an environmentally-friendly and efficient lubricant system harnessing ultrasonic technology to precisely deliver the minimum quantity lubricant (MQL) needed to cutting zones.
Bringing next-generation data visualisation and expertise to this team, we’re utilising digital twinning and advanced IIoT Industry 4.0 technologies to create virtual representations of the factory. Advances in manufacturing processes and production management mean engineers can improve and manage assets in real-time without physical modelling or costly production stoppages.
Contributing to improved lifecycle management (LCM), this research will not only help to decrease costs due to greater oil volume control – cutting running figures by up to a half – but, has the potential to deliver a wealth of advantages. It will work to reduce energy use by up to a fifth, alleviate challenges associated with lubricant and machine maintenance, reduce health risks to machine operators and support quality control management and consistency – all resulting in more efficient use of resources and minimal waste.
Going virtual with training
Allowing learning in high-risk scenarios, enabling interactivity and improving consistency, the digital nature of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and eLearning solutions provides numerous advantages – but of particular importance to sustainability is the removal of geographical restrictions.
As well as reducing the need for printed materials, virtual training tools are enabling access to environments previously limited by location, time, or even budget or safety requirements. Learning can be delivered at distance, scale, and speed as a result.
Breaking geographical barriers was crucial during our project for GlaxoSmithKline. Harnessing VR for operational training, GSK were able to train French employees from their UK site ahead of the opening of a new European facility. The virtual production line not only facilitated employee up-skilling and engagement in an immersive, realistic, safe environment, but streamlined the training process for the multinational pharmaceutical industry leader. Training can be delivered remotely, with savings in cost, equipment resources and travel that would otherwise be needed.
Born out of COVID-19, virtURL took events and product showcases virtual, enabling organisations to communicate with customers and colleagues with engaging real-time interactions when our world was physically restricted. As we look towards a hybrid future, the virtual platform continues to deliver advantages. Whether for sustainability – reducing the need for travel – or reaching worldwide audiences and, in turn, growing into those markets cost-effectively, virtURL is helping our clients deliver product demonstrations anywhere, and at their convenience.
Such virtual environments are enabling defence industry leaders like Marshall to support their internal and external communication needs. The online-offline synced showrooms facilitate global and effective product showcases – including during Marshall’s hybrid DSEI presence – and can be easily updated for future use.
Virtual, real-time interactive product demonstrations not only promote participation but also cut the cost and carbon footprint of transporting large products to in-person events.
Playing our part
In a simplistic example, while sending an email has less environmental impact than sending a letter the former still produces carbon emissions, and those emails stack up too.
As a leader in digital visualisation and immersive technology solutions we’re conscious of the carbon footprint of our operations as well as the global impacts of digital processes. Since 2019 we have been active in carbon off-setting through a local sustainability tree planting initiative and are proud to have off-set our total electricity use. With 100% of the trees planted locally in the East Midlands, this environmental footprint has also been offset as close to source as possible.
The global move towards change
If we take one key objective away from COP26 so far, it’s that the world needs to move together to make these improvements and put plans into action as we carve that path to net zero. Innovating sustainability in business, we’re proud to be developing virtual worlds and harnessing data and immersive tech to support such sectors in this mission.