Our consumption of resources is increasing every year. In Sweden, we live as if we had four Earths. Sustainable production means designing products that are resource efficient in all stages. In other words, sustainability from raw material and back to raw material.
– “We need to see an appreciable improvement,” says Anders Gotte at RISE.
New forces in society are placing requirements on sustainable products. At the same time, requirements are also being placed on sustainable production. Sustainable production can be defined as production that is socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable.
– “The industry needs to transform and adopt new materials and production methods. It involves striving for circularity and treating resources as finite, which they actually are,” says Anders Gotte, Head of the Manufacturing Processes department at RISE.
Sustainability in different industries
'Issues concerning sustainability can differ from industry to industry.
– “Reducing emissions is, of course, extremely important in most industries,” says Gotte. “Many are transitioning to electrified industries. But the focus on sustainability in the industries can be highly varied. In many areas, work is being done to eliminate hazardous elements from production. Numerous companies are bringing production home and are now producing domestically in Sweden. This allows for better control of all the aspects. Many industries are also automating large parts of their production. And this also allows for better control as well as better data.”
Something all industries have in common is that they must improve. They all need to act. Our consumption of resources is increasing every year. Today, we are consuming all of the Earth’s resources in a single quarter. And all the while the population continues to grow.
– “We need to see an appreciable improvement quickly,” says Gotte. “The way I see it, we must be able to double our progress in a few years, and then perhaps double it again in the near future.”
A few years ago, charging for sustainability was inconceivable
Resource efficiency in all stages
Raw material flows are transforming and incorporating more recycled materials, necessitating more robust processes.
– “Products are frequently optimised to be resource efficient in the usage stage, but, for sustainable production, we must look at the entire product cycle,” says Gotte. “In other words, sustainability from raw material and back to raw material. Sustainable production means designing products so that they are resource efficient in all stages. For example, the products must be reusable, the different materials must be separable, and processes must be in place which enable the products to be dismantled. You also need to know how to handle the products at the end-of-life stage.”
Today, awareness of the importance of sustainable production is high. Transparency and traceability in production are becoming increasingly important.
– “A few years ago, charging for sustainability was inconceivable. But, these days, customers set high demands. And sustainability has become an important factor for Employer Branding and in attracting the right skills,” says Gotte.
Sustainable production must also be associated with maintaining competitiveness.
– “In reality, sustainability must always be combined with profitability,” says Gotte. “There are numerous tools today for measuring, analysing, and increasing availability in the production system. By using machine data and digital twins, for example, you can test and develop processes without disrupting production.”
New skills platform
To assist the industry through the transition, RISE has introduced a skills platform called Production System Digitisation. The platform brings together skills and expertise from vastly different areas within RISE, such as digital systems, sensorics, and measurement technologies. RISE has around one hundred test beds which are also important resources in the skills platform. They allow processes to be measured and analysed in a production environment without disrupting production.
– “There is enormous breadth in RISE’s approach. It is one of our strengths and we want to use it to help companies in a multitude of industries to further develop their production,” says Gotte.