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Sustainability is part of manufacturing customer service. Here’s how to get there

Dec 29, 2022 | Manufacturing

Sustainable companies are the way forward, and manufacturing in particular is up to bat. 

As more and more customers demand only working with or purchasing from businesses committed to a cleaner environment and taking responsibility for their own footprint, the tide is slowly turning to force more businesses to take sustainability seriously. And it’s not just customers—the recent ratification of the Kigali amendment in the US senate shows a push from the government to transform manufacturing with sustainability as well. Field service businesses, like much of manufacturing, are a prime target for more serious sustainability initiatives. According to IDC, 40 percent of field service organizations are currently prioritizing sustainability. Whether it’s by routing service workers on more efficient routes or using remote assistance and AI to minimize duplicate work and energy spending, there are countless ways manufacturers can show their commitment to sustainability and earn the respect and dollars of their prospective customers. 

With sustainability no longer an option for maintaining customer loyalty but an expected service to keep and attract customers in the market, it’s paramount that manufacturers prioritize their sustainability efforts. But knowing where to start can be difficult. In this blog, we’ll outline four foundational steps to get your sustainability practice started and yield real results for both the environment and your bottom line:

Understand what your footprint is and has been

The first step is to understand and measure what your footprint is at this very moment. Don’t just look at historical annuals for an idea of your climate impact. To accurately kick off sustainability initially you need to understand exactly what you’re putting into the environment and from what sources. Additionally, what is the burn rate for every vehicle, factory, or piece of machinery? Are you requiring more people than necessary to come into the office, adding unnecessary commuter emissions to your footprint total? A holistic approach to everything your company puts into the environment is crucial for analysis down the line and eventual progress. 

A platform like Salesforce comes ready-made with digital data analysis to track specific emission trends, energy patterns, employee safety records, etc. Compiling these metrics dynamically, Salesforce provides a single source of truth for all stakeholders at your manufacturing organization to start from when it comes to understanding energy spend and emissions output. You may be far from net zero at first, but you’ll only get closer to reaching a net zero goal when you have data visualizations and dashboards on your side from the start. 

Decide on goals to minimize your footprint and share progress reports with your customer base

With data in hand, you’re now ready for step two: setting goals your company can realistically achieve and be excited about. Some starting points could be the benchmarks set up by regulatory agencies in your field or the carbon footprint goals of market peers you wish to compete with. Consider which energy outputs are the low-hanging fruit that can be easily managed and lowered, and which outputs may need more long-term planning to reduce. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives have picked up this year after a slight lull in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, leading to increased consumer interest in what specific sustainability goals manufacturers have selected.

Now that there are numbered benchmarks in mind to set up your sustainability journey, it’s crucial you establish regular evaluations throughout your manufacturing organization. Make sure every team has a consistent time to review the sustainability goals, their progress thus far, and ways they can improve and speed up the progress. Keeping each team accountable on a departmental level helps ensure sustainable change is not just a lofty C-suite vision but a real KPI every operational team is motivated to drive towards.

Put real resources and management behind the initiative

As mentioned before, a digital platform will be all-important to seeing your sustainability efforts as a manufacturer take off—a real way to keep every stakeholder accountable and aware of the progress. But even more importantly is having the dedicated resources and managerial structure to leverage such a platform effectively. 

If your manufacturing organization hasn’t already, it’s time to invest in a chief sustainability officer. Whether you assign this role from within or hire externally is up to you, but the fact remains that high emissions organizations like those found in manufacturing have a difficult time truly reigning in their carbon footprint without senior management to lead the charge. Beyond the CSO, however, you should be assigning additional responsibility to named department leads who can be charged with answering for their department’s efforts. Make sure each of these resources understands the sustainability goals and expectations and is empowered with the data dashboards to monitor progress and forecast potential future changes.

Expand your efforts beyond the basics

Once your manufacturing organization has a good grasp on the basics of controlling your emissions output, it’s time to start thinking of the larger impact your organization may be involved with. What requirements are you placing on partners that may lead to an unnecessary carbon footprint? How do your employees get to and from work if they are working in person? Does your supply chain expend unnecessary energy as well due to your organization’s production needs? Most of all, are there ways to minimize these additional energy spends and put company motivation behind it? 

Some of these larger ecosystem emissions may be more difficult to track and monitor, but making concerted efforts to better understand all the sources of energy your organization is involved with displays a trustworthy brand for your customer base and lays the foundation for more data control later on. Again, having the platform to support data from partners in a collaborative, community way will be critical to make sure your sustainability efforts don’t go stale but are ever-reaching to greater achievement. 

If your manufacturing organization is eager to initiate sustainability efforts but unsure how to get real results, try putting a cloud solution like Salesforce behind it. Simplus is the go-to partner for manufacturers looking to optimize processes, eliminate waste, and raise profit margins by reaching customers through every channel possible—including sustainability. Learn more today by reaching out to our expert team.



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