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How digitalisation drives green manufacturing

How digitalisation drives green manufacturing

27 Jun 2024

THE manufacturing sector, Malaysia’s third-largest carbon emitter, is at a pivotal point, requiring transformational changes to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Recognising this need, the government is promoting green manufacturing through the Investment, Trade and Industry Ministry’s National Industry Environmental, Social and Governance (i-ESG) framework.

This initiative is a cornerstone of the New Industrial Master Plan 2030, which sets a strategic roadmap towards sustainability and achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

According to Lenovo Group Ltd director of Greater Asia Pacific region services sales Ronnie Lee, the i-ESG framework integrates environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles to align industrial growth with global sustainability standards.

“It emphasises implementing eco-friendly practices, enhancing energy efficiency, reducing waste and improving the overall environmental footprint of manufacturing operations. Digitalisation is central to this transition,” he said.


Adopting technology-enabled sustainability practices in manufacturing significantly contributes to achieving sustainability goals.

“Digitised operations allow manufacturers to monitor and optimise energy consumption, reduce waste and enhance resource efficiency.

“Meanwhile, smart sensors and IoT (Internet of Things) devices provide real-time data on equipment performance and energy use, facilitating predictive maintenance, preventing equipment failures and reducing downtime, thus contributing to energy savings and operational efficiency,” said Lee.

He said digitalisation enhances supply chain resilience by helping manufacturers anticipate disruptions, optimise inventory management and streamline logistics.

“Digital tools and advanced analytics predict demand fluctuations, enabling proactive adjustments to production schedules and inventory levels. This reduces the risk of overproduction and waste, making supply chains more responsive and resilient to changes and unexpected events.”

Additionally, smart manufacturing advances sustainable product design and resource management.

For instance, 3D printing minimises material usage through its

layered construction method, which utilises precisely the required amount of material. It supports on-demand production to reduce inventory waste and enables localised production to reduce transportation emissions.

Many 3D printers use recyclable materials to lower environmental impact and energy consumption.


Despite the evident benefits, Lee said the transition to smart manufacturing in Malaysia faces considerable resistance.

“A staggering 80 per cent of organisations are hesitant to adopt smart manufacturing technologies due to a lack of awareness about the tangible benefits and perceived financial and technical barriers,” he said.

Lee said many leaders are intimidated by the upfront costs associated with digitalisation, including investment in new technologies and workforce training. Additionally, there is a lack of understanding of how these technologies integrate into existing processes and the longterm return on investment (ROI).

“Overcoming this resistance requires a concerted effort to educate and support organisations, demonstrating the clear link between digital investments and enhanced sustainability and profitability,” he said.


When considering technology investments, Lee said organisations

must evaluate several key factors:

1. Alignment with strategic goals: Technology investments should align with the organisation’s long-term strategic goals, particularly those regarding sustainability and efficiency.

2. Scalability and flexibility:

Any chosen solution should be scalable to accommodate future growth and adaptable to evolving business needs. Flexibility is crucial to ensure seamless integration with existing systems, allowing organisations to expand their capabilities without significant disruptions.

3. Cost-benefit analysis:

A thorough cost-benefit analysis should be conducted to evaluate the potential return on investment (ROI), considering both financial returns and sustainability

gains. This comprehensive view helps manufacturers make informed decisions that balance economic and environmental benefits.

4. Vendor support and expertise: Partnering with technology providers who offer comprehensive support and possess a proven track record of successful implementations is crucial. Such vendors can provide the expertise and resources necessary to navigate the complexities of new technology adoption, ensuring smooth deployment and ongoing operational success.

By embracing digitalisation and aligning with the i-ESG framework, the manufacturing sector can make significant strides towards reducing its carbon footprint and achieving its long-term sustainability goals.

Source: NST