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Sustainable Manufacturing Trends in 2023

October 24, 2023 Avvale

Today’s technology investments can reach every aspect of an organization. In manufacturing, adopting a holistic approach is essential – a strategy that entails maintaining visibility across both downstream and upstream operations to ensure optimization, competitiveness, and profitability. In pursuing these objectives, the integration of sustainability is increasingly gaining prominence in the corporate bottom line.

We partnered with Canam Research to uncover how the manufacturing industry is embracing technology in our latest trend report. In this blog post, we dive into three key discoveries: the evolving sentiment regarding sustainability in manufacturing, the most pressing challenges faced by the industry, and the often-overlooked critical business technology that quietly contributes to sustainable manufacturing efforts.

From Believing to Achieving Sustainability in Manufacturing

The sentiment around sustainability continues to evolve, especially for manufacturers. 92% of respondents agree that a company can be sustainable and profitable. This acknowledgment underscores a significant shift in mindset, as companies increasingly recognize that sustainability isn't just a moral obligation and a viable avenue for achieving economic success. Specific to the industry, the majority of survey respondents say that sustainable manufacturing processes are vital to their company’s long-term goals, yet 56% say they are in the beginning stages of becoming more sustainable. It’s clear that many manufacturers are moving beyond seeing sustainability as a mere trend and embracing the practice as an integral part of their strategic plans while underscoring the complexity of the transition to sustainability in manufacturing, which often involves substantial changes in supply chains, production methods, and corporate culture.

In light of these statistics, it becomes evident that while the sentiment around sustainability is evolving, there remains a gap between awareness and full-scale implementation within the manufacturing sector. This gap represents both a challenge and an opportunity for manufacturers to align their operations more closely with sustainable principles, ensuring that they not only meet immediate goals but also contribute to a greener, more sustainable future for all. As manufacturers continue to grapple with these challenges, the evolving sentiment toward sustainability promises to shape the industry's future in ways that are both responsible and profitable.


Supply Chain Remains a Cheif Concern in Manufacturing

Before even addressing the complexities highlighted above by fusing sustainability and supply chain, the manufacturing industry continues to grapple with supply chain management. The trend report shows that it continues to be one of the greatest challenges that manufacturers face. This is a testament to the multifaceted nature of modern manufacturing. Manufacturers are tasked with orchestrating an intricate dance of sourcing raw materials, optimizing production processes, streamlining distribution, and meeting the ever-evolving demands of a global marketplace. These demands have only intensified with the advent of just-in-time production, global supply networks, and rapidly changing consumer preferences.

In this context, supply chain management is akin to the central nervous system of manufacturing, governing the flow of resources, information, and products throughout the entire production cycle. Any disruption or inefficiency in this critical process can have far-reaching consequences, impacting not only a company's bottom line but also its ability to deliver products in a timely and sustainable manner.

This highlights the need for continuous innovation and adaptation within the manufacturing sector. Manufacturers must grapple with issues such as supply chain resilience, demand forecasting accuracy, inventory optimization, transportation logistics, and sustainability integration. Moreover, they must do so in a rapidly changing landscape where disruptions – from natural disasters to geopolitical tensions – are increasingly commonplace.

In conclusion, while the fusion of sustainability and supply chain management presents its own set of complexities, it's crucial to recognize that the manufacturing industry's ongoing struggle with supply chain management is a fundamental issue that demands ongoing attention and strategic solutions. Manufacturers who can effectively navigate this complex terrain will be better positioned not only to address sustainability challenges but also to thrive in the dynamic and competitive world of modern manufacturing.

The Underrated Role of ERP in Sustainable Manufacturing

72% of survey respondents perceive enterprise resource planning (ERP) as ineffective to moderately effective, and 28% think it is very or extremely effective. This speaks to an opportunity for manufacturers to explore and embrace the capabilities of next-generation, intelligent ERP solutions.

For decades, conventional ERP systems have served as the backbone of manufacturing operations, providing essential functionalities for managing various aspects of a business, from finance and inventory to production planning and human resources. However, as the manufacturing landscape evolves, marked by increasing complexity, global supply chains, and the integration of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), traditional ERP systems may exhibit limitations in meeting contemporary demands.

The fact that only 28% of respondents consider ERP systems as very or extremely effective, coupled with the fact that only 30% of respondents are leveraging 100% cloud ERP,  indicates a widespread recognition of the need for an ERP upgrade. This recognition is not just about staying technologically current but also about harnessing the power of intelligent ERP systems.


Intelligent ERP such as SAP S/4HANA incorporates advanced analytics, machine learning, and automation to offer manufacturers unprecedented capabilities. These systems can provide real-time insights, predictive analytics, and automated decision-making, enabling manufacturers to make data-driven choices swiftly and accurately. Furthermore, intelligent ERP can enhance supply chain visibility, streamline operations, reduce costs, and facilitate more agile responses to market dynamics.

Therefore, the statistics mentioned serve as a clarion call for manufacturers to explore the potential benefits of next-generation ERP solutions. By investing in intelligent ERP systems, manufacturers can not only address the limitations of traditional ERP but also position themselves for a more efficient, data-driven, and responsive future. Embracing intelligent ERP is not just an upgrade; it's a strategic move toward staying competitive and resilient in an ever-evolving manufacturing landscape.

The Future of Sustainable Manufacturing

As we explore the dynamics of sustainability, supply chain management, and the transformative potential of intelligent ERP in manufacturing, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the manufacturing industry stands at a pivotal juncture. With the evolving sentiment towards sustainability, the perennial challenges of supply chain management, and the untapped potential of intelligent ERP systems such as SAP S/4HANA, manufacturers have a unique opportunity to shape their future.

By recognizing the imperative of sustainability, manufacturers can not only align their operations with responsible practices but also pave the way for long-term profitability. In parallel, addressing the intricacies of supply chain management is paramount, as it forms the lifeline of modern manufacturing. Finally, embracing the capabilities of ERP systems can catapult manufacturers into a more efficient, data-driven, and competitive future.

In this rapidly changing landscape, manufacturers who dare to innovate, adapt, and leverage technology will not only thrive but also contribute to a more sustainable, efficient, and prosperous manufacturing industry for years to come.

> Download the full Trend Report



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