MHI Solutions

Sustainability

PLATINUM REWARDS: REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINT MAKES BOTTOM-LINE SENSE

Sustainability Is Providing a Competitive Edge and Adding Value Well Beyond Its Environmental Benefits

By Sarah B. Hood

I would argue that 2017 is the year of supply chain sustainability,” says Lisa Geason-Bauer, chief communications and sustainability officer for MHI member Eco-Latch Systems, makers of Box Latch Products. She point out that sustainability has become a key theme at venues from this year’s conference of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which she participates in, to the new Sustainable Facility Solution Center at ProMat 2017.

“Sustainability has been pigeonholed as a political thing, but it’s not,” she says. “It’s good for business all across the board. We’re in a globally competitive world, and Europe has much stricter environmental regulations. You have to think about what you’re doing to be competitive.”

“Companies are reacting now,” says Christopher Castaldi, VP of sales for the warehouse consulting and system integration firm and MHI member DMW&H. “There are enough data points that say the majority of the country believes it’s not just the bottom line; they will pay a little more for a company that has consideration for the environment.”

He says he doesn’t believe Europe is leaving the U.S. entirely behind on this front. “The only LEED-platinum net-zero energy distribution center is in the United States, so now Europe’s coming to look at what we’re doing. And look at Tesla. We need to continue raising the bar,” he says.

The LEED-platinum distribution center that Castaldi refers to is a remarkable facility designed from the ground up by the outdoor recreation co-operative REI. Conceived through a charrette process by numerous expert collaborators versed in areas from architecture to material handling and sustainability, it is almost a textbook in sustainable supply chain design.

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Emerging technologies such as IIoT, robotics and artificial intelligence provide exciting opportunities for supply chains. They also mean an exponential growth in the amount of data these supply chains generate. When properly utilized, this data can provide crucial information to improve efficiency, reduce costs, enhance transparency and customer service. But it comes with risk. The more digitized a supply chain becomes, the more it is at risk of cyberattack. Hackers are constantly finding new ways create data breaches they can exploit. The reality that most supply chains require third-party suppliers down the chain only heightens this threat. No matter the scale of your supply chain, it is essential to have solid cybersecurity processes in place to manage and mitigate the growing risk of cyberattack. That’s what this issue of MHI Solutions is all about, from cybersecurity threats in an IIoT world to dark data to the human factor in cybersecurity to blockchain as a potential solution.

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