Manufacturing innovation • Sustainability • Viewpoints

Industrial Automation: Good for Business, Good for the Planet

By Justine Crosby, Director Brand and Corporate Marketing, Bright Machines

The debate is over. Climate change is real. The world is warming, and the evidence keeps mounting – June 2020 has now gone down in history as the second consecutive hottest June on record.

One of the primary sources of CO2 emissions is industrial production, which has ballooned over the past several decades with the acceleration of manufacturing’s globalization. But today’s technological leaps, including a new generation of factory automation, are beginning to play a pivotal role in lowering the industry’s massive impact on the environment through lower waste and more intelligent use of resources. For example, an automated factory takes up less space, requires fewer people (translating into fewer commuters), and decreases defect rates, meaning less landfill. 

At Bright Machines, we’ve talked a lot recently about how automation will help factories become more resilient, including allowing them to reshore their production and build closer to consumers. This is good news for the planet, too, because the carbon footprint required to fuel manufacturing globalization has been immense. With 90 percent of global trade being seaborne, shipping of materials and final products across oceans accounts for over 900 million tonnes of CO2 annually, more than the eighth-highest emitting country. Not to mention the impact of planes moving people back and forth between R&D centers and factories on the other side of the world.  

The vital role of industrial automation in addressing this problem has not gone unnoticed. Today, Bright Machines has been named a 2020 BloombergNEF Pioneer. The award is given to “companies that are leading the transition to a low-carbon economy through a broader set of approaches.” Selected for our innovative technology, potential to scale, and industry momentum, we are honored to be recognized alongside the other winners who are also pursuing important technological advancements within their respective industries.

Technology progression derived from machine learning and computer vision, coupled with cost reductions in factory automation, means manufacturing can now look forward to playing a more significant role in environmental stewardship. We’re grateful to BloombergNEF for the support and shining a light on how factories can decrease their carbon footprint with today’s advanced automation technology. 

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