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This article is part of an ongoing series called Machine Learning for Manufacturers, which focuses on the uses for artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing. It began with our article introducing machine learning and AI, and continues to spell out the many ways that AI solutions are relevant to manufacturing and supply chain operations. 

What Does “Sustainability” Even Mean? 

You have probably heard or seen the word “sustainability” more than once by now, perhaps when scrolling through social media, browsing news headlines, or listening to podcasts. 

Wherever you heard or saw the word, it is possible that you still do not have a total understanding of what it refers to. 

It has—let’s face it—become a buzzword at this point, but that does not mean that it has become meaningless as a result. 

If you think of the word “sustain” by itself, you can get a hint at the definition of sustainability, which in the business world could be defined as the effort to reduce the usage of natural resources so that those resources can be available for a longer time, and therefore the business can operate for a longer time. 

There are also social and economic factors involved in sustainability, where the broader aim is to make sure, in a word, that the people of tomorrow do not need to suffer extreme economic, environmental, or social hardships because of decisions made today.

Environmental Concerns

Sustainability is often linked to environmental concerns, since much of the focus of sustainability is on natural resources. Businesses interested in sustainability put a lot of focus on solving the problem of how to increase profits while decreasing the depletion of natural resources. 

This is especially true for industries like manufacturing, where a large amount of natural resources are used to create and transport finished products to clients. 

Increasingly, AI is being used as a solution to the sustainability problem, and there is plenty of evidence that AI-based solutions can be very helpful in sustainability efforts. 

To learn about how AI is being used by manufacturers to foster sustainability, read on. 

An Artificial Solution to a “Natural” Problem

It needs be mentioned that sustainability, as a concept and practice, has drawn criticism, with some believing that it is not entirely possible to achieve sustainability. 

Whether you are a critic or supporter of sustainability, your stance does not take away from the fact that many manufacturers, along with other industries, are putting plenty of time and effort into introducing sustainability into their operations. 

As mentioned, one way they are doing so is through AI methods. 

If you have been keeping up with this series, you will know that data is the digital fuel that powers AI’s inhumanly accurate predictions. 

In the case of sustainability, AI will pore over data relating to raw materials used in a process, energy expenditure, transportation itineraries, and the like, this data coming both from your own internal operations but also external sources as well, such as other manufacturers. 

An AI agent can take the available data and make data-driven predictions about different ways of structuring your process, creating various models that get tweaked through adjustments regarding how much a certain raw material is used in a production process, or a driver’s route from A to B. 

These tweaks come with predictions about how much your bottom-line profits will be impacted, allowing you to measure the costs and benefits of sustainability-based decisions. 

From there, you can make decisions regarding product design, waste management, maintenance, equipment usage, and other factors in your operations that impact your long-term sustainability goals. 

AI-Powered Data Solutions for Your Company

The ongoing supply chain crisis has made the time- and cost-efficient uses of AI in the manufacturing process even more relevant than ever, so do not hesitate to make the investment in AI, which has saved many manufacturers from going under in these turbulent times. 

To learn more about AI-based solutions, manufacturing-related or not, reach out to Findability Sciences, a leading AI service provider. From predicting customer churn to installing chatbots in your supply chain, you are sure to find what you need at Findability Sciences. 

Read other informative articles in our ongoing Machine Learning for Manufacturers series: