The impact of the digitalisation trend sweeping the plastics industry over the past decade has been – in one word - huge. Data integration, connectivity, smart machines, Industry 4.0 – these are among the concepts that have dominated the digital developments of these past years. Vastly improved sensor technologies allow data collection on different devices across the production processes and have enable the development of intelligent machines, controls and devices that keep track of and monitor the parameters of all these processes in an interconnected, networked manufacturing environment. Advanced robotic systems have boosted efficiency, saving time, costs and resources. And of course, with the outbreak of the pandemic, the pace of digital transformation in manufacturing speeded up dramatically.
The digital transformation has proven to be closely intertwined with sustainability in industry, in ways that might be unexpected. A theme that has gained momentum especially in the last two years is ESG, or Environmental, Social and Corporate governance. ESG issues are putting increasing pressure on business and industry to amp up their sustainability performance, calling on companies to analyse and report their total impacts in all three dimensions. And Industry 4.0 tools, developed to create an advanced manufacturing environment, can now also help companies in this area as well. Software platforms specialised in sustainability data management and designed to make ESG measurements and assessments easier and more transparent are readily available. Sustainable manufacturing is the future - and digital technology is the enabler of that future.
It is a viewpoint that is endorsed by Michael Wittmann, CEO of the Wittmann Group, with whom we spoke about this topic, among other things, for this issue.
As well, you’ll find our newly expanded Prices feature, which now includes a separate page giving the prices of recycled plastics; a contribution from UBQ’s Gil Felus, on the sustainability value offered by additive manufacturing, and much more. Click on the Digital Magazine menu tab to download or read this latest issue of Sustainable Plastics on our website. Subscribers will see the print issue delivered straight to their door in just a few days.