Four key steps manufacturers can take towards a carbon-neutral future
The journey toward a more sustainable construction industry is well underway with a clear roadmap ahead to deliver carbon neutral equipment fit for the future. Battery electric and fuel cell electric products form a major part of this ambition. But if we want to reduce our environmental impact, there are many more factors to consider.
Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has commited to reaching net-zero value chain greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Developing battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric technology will go a long way to deliver on that ambition, but for a construction company today, there is much more to do to drive industry change. Below are some of the other significant actions that are required on the journey to a carbon neutral future.
1. Get everyone on the carbon reduction pathway
"Perhaps the biggest hurdle ahead for us humans lies in changing mindsets. Combating climate change is not only about advancements in technology. We all need to do this together, think differently and change our behaviours and ways of working," explains Niklas Nillroth, Head of Sustainability and Public Affairs at Volvo CE.
Once a niche responsibility area, carbon reduction efforts now need to be the responsibility of each individual across an organization's value chain with all parties having an important role to play.
2. Take action across the supply chain with a circular approach
Manufacturing is one of the largest single emitters of greenhouse gases in Europe, responsible for some 880 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents a year. As part of its Science Based Targets goals, Volvo CE has set itself the challenge to reduce CO2 emissions in its own operations by 50 percent by 2030. We know that reducing our vehicles' emissions through electric solutions is integral to carbon-neutral ambitions, but cannot forget the importance of our manufacturing processes.
A circular economy approach will be vital to shift from the linear ‘take, make, waste' production and consumption model to a more sustainable value chain that designs out waste and pollution, bolsters competitive agility and drives new value. As well as incorporating recycled components for parts supply and manufacturing, Volvo Reman solution is focused on extending and optimizing the life of its machines by refurbishing and refining them to deliver like-new service. The end goal being to deliver a truly circular vehicle or machine that uses renewable energy efficiently, is built without waste, has maximum uptime and an optimal lifespan.
3. Leverage the power of partnerships
Real transformation requires a more cohesive, cooperative way of thinking. As Brunno Muller, Head of Advanced Manufacturing Engineering and Research at Volvo CE, says: "We cannot build the future we want by ourselves. We need to consider how we do this end-to-end, joining forces with partners and sharing experiences."
Whether that's working with customers on test pilots to consistently improve the power of new technologies and products, through to collaborating with suppliers to source sustainable parts and processes, we need to partner with a range of groups from across our business and supply chain if we are to accelerate sustainable solutions. All actors in society need to come together - corporations, academia, policy-makers, and municipality leaders - to accelerate in important areas such as technology adaption, infrastructure and legislative transformation. With our combined expertise, we will be best placed to find new ways of working and to accelerate the changes needed for our carbon neutral future.
4. Use data to deliver on sustainability goals
According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, most of the data in the world (90 percent) was generated in the last two years. Harnessing the full power of this data is the challenge.
With more than 150,000 connected vehicles and machines, Volvo CE is using the data it collects from customers across the globe to deliver improvements in safety, uptime and fuel efficiency, for today and tomorrow. New digital services, like Efficient Load Out, are making it possible for trucks and excavators to communicate more effectively with one another on the job site. By doing so it ensures trucks only depart for their destination once a goal weight has been reached, thereby reducing the number of trips and in turn reducing the associated emissions.
The connected solutions we have made available today, and those that we are working on for tomorrow, allow our machines to operate in the most sustainable way possible. All of these incremental improvements combine to deliver energy efficiencies across all types of machines, whether they are electric or not - a vital step forward in our ongoing journey towards a carbon neutral future.