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How to Increase Sustainability in Production

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How to Increase Sustainability in Production

There’s an abundance of people in the world, and that requires an abundance of resources. Approximately 8 billion people need to eat, drink, wear clothing, and live in homes. And more people are interested in cars, computers, toys, and other goods that require production and manufacturing. This demand will only grow with time, and unfortunately, that means more pollution as well.

Carbon dioxide emissions released by fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes rose by roughly 35% globally between 2000 and 2020. As climate change’s impact continues to unfold, governments, communities, and concerned citizens worldwide will likely expect meaningful change from businesses in every sector, especially manufacturing.

Sustainable manufacturing means creating goods in a way that minimizes the environmental impact, including the use of energy and natural resources. If we don’t take actionable steps to create sustainable manufacturing companies, the problem will only worsen. Thankfully, the technology of today is ready to combat tomorrow’s increased consumption. Through predictive maintenance tools and prioritizing both machine health and process health, manufacturers can journey forward to sustainability in manufacturing.

Obstacles to Sustainable Manufacturing

Much of the problem for manufacturing leadership lies in thin profit margins. A recent study found the average manufacturer loses 12-15% on energy consumption due to inefficient machinery.

This waste compounds the obvious pollution problem. When calculating how much CO2 is produced to manufacture beverages, for example, we need to account for not just the completed production, but also the defective products. The most sustainable option would be to close up shop — but that’s obviously not an option. People rely on manufactured goods, which means manufacturers need to fight the uphill battle to create more sustainable manufacturing.

You must invest in multiple areas — equipment, knowledge, and training, among others — to improve sustainability. That leaves manufacturers stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, it’s expensive to upgrade to sustainable manufacturing, but on the other, manufacturers can’t remain ethical and competitive otherwise.

The reality is that we need this industry. That’s why agencies like the EPA are focused on helping manufacturers do their part in rebuilding a strong, sustainable infrastructure post-pandemic. But how are sustainable manufacturing companies staying profitable?

Achieving Sustainability in Manufacturing While Making a Profit

Manufacturing involves a lot of complicated machinery that needs to be perfectly calibrated to perform simple commands in a production line. This allows them to achieve complex, dynamic things at a scale limited only by human effort. Of course, this is where artificial intelligence is really changing the game — evolving data insights past human limitations.

The right AI, when built specifically for manufacturing, can provide both a bird’s-eye view of the production lines and a deep dive into its inner workings. Done properly, this AI can act as a decision-making tool that looks at all your processes and constantly learn how to improve them. By applying purpose-built AI to production lines, manufacturers gain access to thousands of complex calculations every minute.

And with the right algorithms to help digest it all, manufacturers gain powerful insights into important operational questions: When are machines most likely to fail? Which parts are most critical to the machine? What’s the optimal way to run the production line? Having these answers makes the entire production line more efficient while also improving production health and safety. By adopting AI solutions for manufacturing, you gain a cheat code to resolve all the problems that are too complex for manufacturing teams to handle, no matter how much experience is under their belt.

Not only does AI aid in design for sustainable manufacturing, but it can proactively monitor machines to enable predictive maintenance. Machine health can be continuously monitored through a series of sensors that provide real-time insights into how each cog in the machine is performing, and process health allows you to optimize quality, yield, waste, and every other manufacturing metric while minimizing downtime. As factories optimize, the amount of waste (and pollution) will naturally decrease.

With AI in place, production health becomes achievable. As machines run better, profit margins grow, allowing for scalable investment in sustainability. And there are three steps that can make it happen now.

  1. Evolve Past Traditional Mindsets

Imagine you’re given an impossible task, such as being both sustainable and profitable without using AI. Often, the solution is to ignore sustainability, as it’s a long-term issue with delayed consequences. Over time, the problem never goes away; it only continues to become an obstacle for the business.

Burying our heads in the sand isn’t running a business; it’s an avoidance tactic. Our mindset must evolve alongside technology. AI-enabled machine health and process health always find the perfect balance between sustainability and profitability. While this scale is a moving target, these AI insights mean there’s no need to compromise.

  1. Create Change Management Processes

Once manufacturing executives open their eyes to what’s possible, they need to plan a roadmap for the next 20 years. The next generation of your team will work in completely different ways; change is the only guarantee in business. This means every manufacturer needs a solid, well-documented change management process.

AI insights work faster than we can, which means changes can come at an incredibly fast pace. This can be overwhelming for a team, so make sure everyone feels prepared. A solid change management process will help the team adapt more quickly, meaning less time is spent getting the team on board and more time focusing on real innovations.

  1. Leverage Existing Tools

Production changes are inevitable, and AI can also help in this transition. A solid platform can track assets to optimize resources. It’s not uncommon for things to get overlooked as a company expands, and some companies may not be aware of all the tools they have available, leading to costly repeats.

Sustainability in manufacturing isn’t a new concept, and the right software solutions can optimize any equipment still in use. We often talk about AI and machine learning as the future, but the reality is that it’s already on the market and in use. Not only that, but it’s much more sophisticated than it was a decade ago.

This means the transition to sustainable manufacturing is best addressed sooner rather than later. European regulations are already tightening, and it’s only a matter of time before the United States follows suit. In fact, regulations throughout the world are quickly changing in the pandemic’s wake, and CO2 emissions are always at the top of legislative lists.

Starting (or continuing) the transition to sustainability in manufacturing may be the most important thing you do today.

Author’s Bio

Liran Akavia is a serial entrepreneur who specializes in the fields of AI and manufacturing. He is the co-founder and former COO of Seebo and now works as the VP of Sales for Process Health at Augury, a digital machine-health company building a future where people can always rely on the machines that matter.



Why IT is Key to Every Business’s Success

Many people in business view IT as the problem solvers to turn to when their computer programs are running slow, they need new batteries for their mouse, or when any other unavoidable technological issues arise. In reality, fixing computers is only a tiny piece of an IT professional’s duties. The IT department’s importance is often underestimated by other teams, but it is actually one of the key drivers to success in every organization.

Implement Tools Across the Organization

When we think we’ve seen all that technology can do, new tools are introduced that can solve problems that you’re experiencing in your everyday life. Whether it’s using smart appliances at home or ordering groceries online, people have become accustomed to the simplified life that technology offers. It’s no surprise that the workplace also follows this popular trend as technology makes professional life much easier.

IT plays an important role in deciding what technology an organization should implement. They might work with the Marketing and Sales departments to find lead generation tools or work with the Customer Service team to find technology that automates chat responses outside of business hours. IT can find the tools that will streamline communication, offer robust security, and automate slow, daily processes.

IT can help every department across an organization determine what technology is best suited for their needs and fill in the gaps. With IT’s help, each department can reach new levels of productivity with the new tools that allow them to focus on the most important part of their jobs.

Keep Up With Technology Maintenance

All of a business’s productivity problems don’t end completely after just finding the right tools. With constantly changing technology, IT helps with maintenance and managing the tools to keep everything running smoothly.

If the software that an employee uses daily is malfunctioning, not only will they not be as effective at their job, but their productivity may turn into a downward spiral. They’ll spend more of their day trying to fix the program that makes no progress on their workload. To prevent this, IT can once again step in to save the day.

IT is essential to an organization because it can stop other employees from wasting their time trying to fix a system. IT knows the world of technology inside and out so they are the best resource for fixing problems as they arise.

Keep Your Business Compliant

One of IT’s most important responsibilities is keeping the organization’s confidential data secure. And because of the extensive compliance regulations that could get a business in trouble if they fail to follow them, IT can literally be your business’s saving grace.

Some compliance regulations may allow only people in certain roles to view or edit a document. Other documents may need to be in a WORM format or be purged after a certain period of time. If you aren’t aware of all the security regulations that you must adhere to and follow them to a tee, you could be in serious legal trouble.

Since part of IT’s job is to worry about security measures, their expertise and training can stop you from ever having to worry about how well your organization does this. Keeping your business compliant can be a simple task with an impressive IT department.

Maintain Credibility Among Customers

If a business fails to adequately prioritize IT and doesn’t provide them with the necessary resources to be successful, a data breach that leaks confidential company information is difficult to avoid. This alone can wreck any customer relationship that you’ve spent years building.

Even if a business is lucky enough that their servers going down doesn’t result in confidential data being intercepted by malicious parties, customers that depend on an organization’s product will be in trouble. If a customer cannot carry out business as usual because of an issue with your system, you could lose all credibility with your customers. Your customers may immediately search for a more dependable solution.

By finding a diverse skill set and the right tools for your IT department, you won’t have to worry about what a security breach could do to your customers and business’s reputation.

A successful business is driven by a successful IT department. As technology becomes increasingly popular with more impressive capabilities than ever before, it’s vital that an organization provides the necessary resources to an IT department to stay on top of any issues.


Katie Casaday is a marketing content writer at eFileCabinet where she specializes in computer software and document management topics. She graduated from Utah State University with a BA in Global Communication. She has experience writing about B2B technology companies and besides enjoying writing, she loves nature and taking hikes with her companion, a Border Collie named Margo.


How to Build High-Performing Companies

There are some executives that like to look at academic journals but unfortunately the crossover literature has not reached them enough. I attempt to blend scholarly concepts with real-world applications. For the executive’s corner, I place a great deal of emphasis on the literature of knowledge management, information technology, strategy, and culture as four significant indicators for financial performance.

This article adds to a relatively small body of literature but pays homage to the scholarly contributions. I highlight the direct impact of these organizational factors on financial performance. This article actually investigates the crossover potential of scholarly research and how it can be applied in the organizational boardroom. Executives will also see that I expand upon the subject matter of a company’s internal resources. Insufficient consideration of the impacts of these resources on financial performance has been exposed and I attempt to address this concern. This article can portray a more detailed picture of the effects of knowledge management, information technology, strategy, and culture on financial performance that have been mentioned but not placed in a model in the past.

 Why Knowledge Management Is So Important To Financial Performance?

Executives across the globe have found that knowledge is critical to financial performance. Knowledge, in of itself, is not enough to satisfy the vast array of changes in today’s business environment. Knowledge management is only a necessary precursor to effectively managing knowledge within the organization. Organizational knowledge cannot merely be described as the sum of individual knowledge, but as a systematic combination of knowledge based on social interactions shared among organizational members. Executives agree with Haridimos Tsoukas who determines organizational knowledge as a collective mind, and Kiku Jones and Lori Leonard at The University of Tulsa who explain organizational knowledge as the knowledge that exists in the organization as a whole. [1] [2] Organizational knowledge is owned and disseminated by the organization.

The key take-away for executives is that organizational knowledge is a resource that enables companies to solve problems and create value through improved performance and it is this point that will narrow the gaps of success and failure leading to more successful decision-making. The key is for executives to convert individual knowledge into valuable resources to ensure that the knowledge is actually helping the organization grow profitably for all stakeholders.

Knowledge management can help companies identify their inefficiencies in organizational processes which can enable them to prevent further operational risk. The question remains. How does knowledge management impact your company’s financial performance? By answering this question, executives are able to answer the questions necessary to apply knowledge management to exploit financial performance for companies.

Knowledge is firstly created and acquired from external environments. This knowledge exchange with external business partners develops innovative environments that can enable companies to create a more innovative climate. This knowledge exchange also enhances the capabilities of companies in recognizing possible opportunities in the business environment and developing a more effective vision, including a more comprehensive array of information and insights about external environments.

Furthermore, executives need to focus on coordinating experts, sharing knowledge, and scanning the changes of knowledge requirements to keep the quality of their products or services in-line with market demand. It is apparent that this can help companies assessing the required changes to keep the quality of both products and services at maximum levels. Also, a systematic process of coordinating company-wide experts enables companies to effectively meet customer needs.

The knowledge within organizations also needs to be reconfigured to meet environmental changes and new challenges today. Knowledge is globally shared with other organizations. However, companies might lack the required capabilities or decide to decline from interacting acting with other companies, or even suffer the distrust to share their knowledge. In addition, expert groups may not have sufficient diversity in order to comprehend knowledge acquired from external sources. Networking with business partners is a key activity for companies to increase financial performance, thereby transferring knowledge among companies which creates better solutions for capturing the interest of customers and developing market share. The key here is that there are positive effects of knowledge management on financial performance.

Does Information Technology drive Financial Performance?

Information technology is necessary to build high-performing companies and also may be necessary as the globalized market demands are increasingly difficult to adapt and sustain profitability. Financial performance in global markets is dependent on continuous learning. Corporate learning plays a critical role and is a strategic prerequisite for increasing sales and market share in today’s knowledge-based economy. Effective corporate learning can enable companies to actively respond to environmental changes and customer needs and organizational members’ growth needs. Thus, information technology is a key factor that should be embraced at the senior level of organizations to enable financial performance in globalized markets by building a learning climate and empowering organizational members. In the absence of effective IT management, companies cannot implement successful plans in order to adapt to today’s global business environment.

Information technology is a key factor to improve financial performance for companies. Earlier studies clearly indicate that effective IT implementation significantly contributes to companies’ financial performance. These researches acknowledge that information technology is an important enabler to effectively manage business processes. Information technology can reduce paper-based transactions for companies that can potentially decrease costs and subsequently improve profitability for companies.

Furthermore, it can be seen that information technology enables companies to effectively identify opportunities in external business environment that leads to identify the best opportunities for investment that potentially improves financial performance in terms of return on investment. Information technology can also help companies to effectively create more innovative solutions for their organizational problems. More innovative solutions and better ideas can improve the quality of products and services, which in turn increases sales and market share for companies.

Business success for companies in today’s global business environment can be, therefore, achieved when information technology is effectively applied and widely used to achieve a higher degree of financial performance. When information technology can create a learning workplace and inspiring vision for future expansion into global markets, companies will secure a foothold in the ever-expansive global marketplace. Two important dimensions that all managers world-wide can learn from this article is that information technology can help companies to accomplish their goals that they would not ordinarily consider part of their competencies.

The question posited for top management executives and leaders in any and all companies is to accept the challenge of information technology implementation in order to address the current gaps in business effectiveness and improve their competitiveness in global markets. Thus, I recommend that executives should consider information technology as a key driver for improving financial performance in today’s hypercompetitive environment.

If Corporate Strategy Comes First, Company’s Financial Performance Will Follow

Executives are aware that corporate strategy mainly encompasses four aspects: analysis, pro-activeness, defensiveness, and futurity. So how can you as an executive use these four dimensions? Scholars provide a blueprint to follow:

-Analysis refers to the degree to which the roots of problems are analysed to provide the best solutions, which ultimately results in a more efficient allocation of resources to solve problems and also achieve organizational goals.

-Pro-activeness is defined as the extent to which a firm continuously searches for emerging opportunities in its business environment, and then actively participates in these opportunities by responding to changing trends.

-Defensiveness, which recommends undertaking defensive behaviors that manifest themselves in enhancing efficiency and in cutting costs while maintaining continuous budget-analysis and break-even points.

-Futurity is reflected in the degree to which the strategic decision-making process takes a two-way approach—-an emphasis on both long-term effectiveness and shorter-term efficiency concurrently.

Analysis strategy is regarded as the tendency to search for problems and their root causes and generates better alternatives to solve them. Analysis strategy, an academic term that is very applicable to executive span of control is also concurrently aired in the academic circles of higher education. For instance, analysis strategy is highly related to firms’ capacity to generate new ideas and knowledge and plays a crucial role in acquiring knowledge. Therefore, I appeal to executives across the globe that analysis strategy could improve the quality of products and services, which can in turn enhance profitability and market share.

I also feel that as executives use the pro-activeness strategy which refers to finding new opportunities and proactively responding to current challenges in external environments, they are also enhancing their span of control. Therefore, the pro-activeness strategy can provide a higher degree of knowledge through developing interactions with external environments. As executives effectively use knowledge management for projects and organizational investments they require a continuous investigation from external business environments. The pro-activeness strategy enables companies to identify changes in external environments and accordingly help them to actively respond to these emerging rapid changes.

Some executives feel that a defensive strategy, while necessary, sets a negative connotation on their span of control. However, it is believed that a defensiveness strategic approach enhances efficiency through cutting costs which in turn increases organizational revenue and the company’s financial performance.

Futurity strategy can also enhance financial performance by providing a series of clear guidelines for companies to track future trends in the business environment, and accordingly conduct “what-if” analysis and allocate organizational resources. My explanation of this is clearly within the executive span of control and potentially limits operational risk. My conclusion for executives is that organizational strategy has a positive association with financial performance. Therefore, I suggest that a firm’s ability to enhance financial performance can be highly affected when executives develop and implement an effective corporate strategy as the primary form of managing people, resources, and profitability.

Does Corporate Culture Increase Financial Performance?

Corporate culture is the resource that builds upon the foundations that helps organizations prosper. Andrew Pettigrew initially introduced the term corporate culture into the business literature. [3] Edgar Schein, one of the prominent management scholars, describes corporate culture as a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems. [4] Corporate culture is, therefore, reflected in shared assumptions, symbols, beliefs, values and norms that specify how employees understand problems and appropriately react to them.

To analyze the relationship between corporate culture and financial performance, corporate culture could be visualized by its three major aspects, including collaboration, trust and learning. Both cultural aspects of collaboration and trust positively contribute to companies to effectively and actively respond to environmental changes and customer needs and employee growth needs through developing effective learning workplaces within these companies. Thus, these two cultural aspects can help companies to improve the quality of products and services and increase financial performance in terms of profitability and sales.

Learning culture is another cultural aspect sheds light on organizational capabilities to develop learning. It is quite understandable that this cultural aspect can particularly increase financial performance for companies, by developing suitable workplaces for employees to effectively share their knowledge with others. People, in fact, recognize how old resources can address new and problematic situations by sharing their knowledge within companies, and this can help to create more innovative ideas for organizational problems. David Maister in Harvard Business School in his book, Managing the Professional Service Firm, says that innovative ideas generation can improve profitability for companies. [5] Thus, I suggest that executives should consider corporate culture as an important enabler to enhance financial performance.

In Conclusion

This article may be the answer executives need but may also lack the fundamental fortitude necessary to be an all-encompassing model to predict financial performance. This article has started a mindset that encourages executives to investigate scholarly work to increase financial performance, enhance profitability and improve shareholder value. Executives can contribute to meet dynamic market needs, through reshaping an organization’s internal resources (i.e. knowledge management, information technology, strategy and culture) to meet the needs of customers in the marketplace. In fact, this article has been focusing on thus far is the needs of companies for enhancing financial success. This article presents executives with organizational factors that can be effectively manipulated to improve financial performance and become more profitable.


Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.


[1] Jones, K., & Leonard, L.K. (2009). From Tacit Knowledge to Organizational Knowledge for Successful KM. In W.R. King (Eds.), Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning, (pp. 27-39), Berlin: Springer.

[2] Tsoukas, H. (1996). The Firm as a Distributed Knowledge System: A Constructionist Approach. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 11-25.

[3] Pettigrew, A.M. (1979). On studying organizational cultures, Administrative Science Quarterly, 24(4), 570–581.

[4] Schein, E. (1984). Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture, Sloan Management Review, 25(2), 37–50.

[5] Maister, D.H. (1993). Managing the professional service firm, Free Press, New York.