Many industries are undergoing rapid change today as issues such as climate change, environmental sustainability, and plastic waste have taken the spotlight. Automotive manufacturing is one industry in particular where public and regulatory focus on these issues has never been higher.
Road travel, including both passenger vehicles and freight trucking, accounts for 15% of CO2 emissions, making the design, manufacture, and use of vehicles a key area of focus. Automotive manufacturers around the world are facing pressure for unprecedented change, and here are some of the ways that these changes are taking place.
Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is a goal shared by the majority of countries around the world, with many taking decisive action to reach it. In the automotive industry, much of the focus is on electric vehicles (EVs) and other alternative fuels for transportation. However, reaching true net zero requires tackling emissions incurred on the production line as well.
Today, manufacturers can reduce emissions by reducing energy consumption on their production lines. The majority of electricity used is still derived from fossil fuels, making any reduction in consumption a reduction in emissions – along with any direct use of fossil fuels for heating or other processes.
Reducing energy consumption is an important measure to reduce emissions and save on energy costs, but the problem becomes less pronounced as more renewable energies are introduced to the grid. Tackling Scope 3 emissions is a challenge that all manufacturers will face, regardless of any future changes in renewable energy availability.
While Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions cover direct emissions and emissions related to energy consumption, Scope 3 expands a manufacturer’s responsibility to include both upstream and downstream emissions. For automotive manufacturers, this means the entire lifecycle emissions of a vehicle and any components used in its manufacture.
Manufacturers need a solution that lets them understand the emissions impact of the components and materials they use. By tying these to emissions by unit or by weight, manufacturers can always know the actual impact of their material consumption.
Achieving Circular Economy
A circular economy is one in which the industry creates no waste, completely recycling all products at their end-of-life to support new production. While automotive manufacturing might not be suitable for achieving a completely circular economy, manufacturers can take steps to get much closer than they are today.
Most types of vehicles are made of largely easily recyclable materials such as steel, aluminum, copper, and plastics. Reusing these materials has an impact not just on costs but on sustainability as well. The production of new steel, in particular, generates significant emissions, and the other materials generate emissions as well.
Being able to use recycled materials in production lines is key to reducing those emissions. While it may not be possible to achieve 100% recycled material use in automotive manufacturing, manufacturers can also offset virgin material use by cycling end-of-life materials to other industries. Even if a certain material isn’t viable for recycling for its original use, it may serve secondary applications.
On the production line, manufacturers can do their part to achieve a circular economy by ensuring that recycled materials are used in line with their sustainability policies. Creating a plan to use more recycled materials in production isn’t enough. Manufacturers must ensure that actual production conforms with those standards.
Supply chain transparency is another area of importance for automotive manufacturers. Pressures from both within the industry and from regulators mean that manufacturers must be able to provide a clear and accurate accounting of the materials that go into production.
New regulations regarding recycled content and incurred emissions are emerging in many countries. Manufacturers must be able to provide all relevant information about specific vehicles or component lots to demonstrate compliance with these regulations, or they could face fines or other penalties.
Industry pressure is just as, if not more, significant. As manufacturers of all kinds move to improve their Scope 3 emissions, they need accurate information from throughout their supply chain. Any automotive component manufacturers will have to provide clear and accurate details of material emissions associated with their components if they wish to maintain access to the market.
Tackling Energy Management on the Factory Floor
Automotive manufacturing is often an energy-intensive process, with numerous production lines and individual machines to manage. Alongside efforts in material management, automotive manufacturers must also be prepared to implement new solutions to improve energy management.
Real-time energy consumption monitoring is one important measure to implement. It allows manufacturers to identify and respond to any unexpected spikes that could indicate equipment issues. Being able to access consumption for individual machines, rather than only for entire facilities, is also vital to optimize energy consumption.
Implementing Predictive Maintenance
Automotive manufacturing involves tens of thousands of components for each vehicle, made and installed across many individual production lines by a large variety of machines. When any one of those machines goes down unexpectedly, it can cause serious delays throughout the facility and the supply chain – leading to wasted time, labor, and energy.
Today, modern solutions allow automotive manufacturers to implement predictive maintenance. Continuous monitoring and analysis of key production line metrics let these solutions identify when specific machines require maintenance before they go down. This lets manufacturers plan maintenance more intelligently and void the impact of unplanned stops.
Supply chain issues and component shortages over the past several years have highlighted how important maintaining automotive component supplies are. Manufacturers are turning to Industry 4.0 and AI solutions to maximize their uptime and help secure supply chain resilience.
Take Your Automotive and Component Manufacturing Operations Into the Future
Matics Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI) is a comprehensive platform that lets automotive and component manufacturers meet the challenges they face as the industry continues to change. Material and energy management, sustainability, maintenance, and more can all be improved on your production lines.
Matics provides valuable insights in real-time, aggregating all production data and giving stakeholders the information, alerts, and workflows they need to act decisively. Contact our team today to see how Matics RtOI can transform your automotive manufacturing operation.