Alex West
Alex West

As sustainability topics rise on the agenda for many manufacturing CEOs, more companies are sharing their approach to environmentally sustainable practices alongside standard fare of production targets and profit/loss statements. But how well are companies doing, what else can be done, and who’s setting the example? Below, Alex West, senior principal analyst in research firm Omdia’s manufacturing technology practice, takes a closer look at sustainable manufacturing.

MPT: How would you describe the current landscape of sustainable manufacturing?

Alex West: According to a recent Omdia survey 30 percent of manufacturers describe themselves as having implemented an environmental strategy with a long-term road map, and this is estimated to increase to 42 percent over the next twelve months. Companies are allocating additional budget to support these such projects. Target setting is also on the up. In the first six months of 2023, the number of manufacturers having committed to science-based targets (SBTis) for emissions reduction increased by 40 percent.

However, while the focus is fixed and intentions are intensifying, the reality of the size of the challenge is only becoming more apparent. Decarbonization of the manufacturing sector is proving more challenging than many expected.

MPT: Could you explain some of those challenges?

Alex West: According to Omdia, more than 40 percent of companies are slightly or significantly behind target when it comes to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The delay is even more significant in transitioning to renewable energy, with 47 percent not expecting to meet the targets that have been set. Over the last year the proportion of companies falling behind has only increased.

The focus on the availability of near limitless renewable energy has been misinterpreted to reflect availability by some. And with challenges in not just the intermittency of the energy source, but also the limitations around infrastructure readiness and integration capacity, companies cannot simply rely on decarbonizing their energy source and must look internally at how to improve their usage of energy.

MPT: Where do you see the path forward?

Alex West: A combination of existing and new technologies will be central to facilitating these improvements, with industrial automation vendors playing a key role in offering solutions across hardware, software, and services they can provide.

Beyond this, the range of solutions, including energy management and emissions monitoring systems, as well as analytics tools to optimize process control, improve waste management, coordinate across a vendor ecosystem and consider and balance the needs for sustainable operations with business profitability.

Per our survey, leaders in the statistics of energy intensity, owned emissions, and renewable energy were Rockwell Automation, Siemens, and Schneider Electric respectively, with these companies also scoring significantly better than their peers in aggregate as well.


To read more of Alex West’s outlook on sustainable manufacturing, sign up to receive his reports on Omdia’s website. Omdia is a global research leader that helps business leaders connect the dots across the technology ecosystem.

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