What we’re looking at isn’t just an ambitious goal, it’s a worldwide business imperative.
Over the past decade we have seen a major shift in social conscience, twinned with a sense of responsibility towards the environment. The underlying question facing everyone is ‘Am I doing right by the world?’.
In November 2019, British band Coldplay put their new album tour on hold over concerns of the environmental impact it would have. Frontman Chris Martin told BBC News:
Martin’s comments replicate that of the challenges facing thousands, if not millions of businesses; how do we continue what we’re doing without harming the environment with our processes?
The green future, in its simplest form, is fueled by automation and technology, rather than traditional energy practices. In this article, we take a look at how the future for business is being molded by innovation, and how recent events have played a role in shaping the impending years of processes.
How is automation improving manufacturing?
Automation is beginning to play a forward role in organizations’ active environmental responsibility by reducing factory waste:
Meanwhile, a large number of machineries and equipment that were developed in the latter stages of the 20th century weren’t designed with eco-friendly benefits in mind. As a result, we’re seeing a drastic increase in environmentally-safe robots being manufactured while, similarly, creating eco-friendly products.
Example: Automotive industry
In the automotive industry robotic automation is being used to spray a water-soluble seal on vehicles that improves in-vehicle air quality — an industry activity we’re only going to see more of as we transcend into the future.
Example: Renewable energy
Within the renewable energy sector, robots and automation can be particularly beneficial, allowing for mass simplification of processes. Robotics have been used across the globe to act as cleaners on solar panels, disposing of dust build up, helping to ensure the maximum yield is being achieved.
How is technology saving the environment?
Beyond automation, technology is awash with benefits regarding business operations and environmental friendliness.
Take the transition to digital, for example. Computers and smartphones have almost completely abolished our need for paper, something which will only become more prominent as time passes.
Bank statements, communications, and receipts — how rarely do we come into contact with a physical copy of these now? The cloud now houses everything we once needed in paper form. This reduction in demand alone alleviates the ramifications of deforestation.
Furthermore, the development of smart technologies that can be utilized within business premises are continually improving and becoming considerably more accessible to smaller companies. For example, a simple smart meter offers unparalleled potential in regard to business energy reduction.
The operative word in IISD’s commentary, however, is ‘provided’. In order to reap the rewards, businesses need to guarantee over-consumption doesn’t occur.
As recent events have unfolded, the world has witnessed non-essential workers change their professional habits to be able to work from home.
Technology has been at the forefront of this success. Video conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom have seen a dramatic uptake since lockdown measures were introduced, with team and client meetings moving from the physical office into the virtual one.
Instead of two hundred-mile round trips that have a detrimental impact on the environment, workers have simply turned to the technology that is so readily available to them.
The question is has this pandemic proved that as workers we are simply creatures of habit, carrying out the same processes that have been in place for decades, when a new, environmentally-friendly alternative existed all along?