Using Materials to Get to Net Zero: Four Best Practices

February 16, 2024 Conrad Magalis

Sustainability has become a top-of-mind issue for manufacturers worldwide over the last 25 years. This has been driven in large part by global legislation like the Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement, the European Green Deal, and others.

As climate change becomes a higher-profile concern, many countries, cities, and companies are striving to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. In the manufacturing sector, materials management and selection will play a central role in attaining this goal.

Here are four best practices that manufacturers on the road to Net Zero should consider:

  1. Build sustainability into designs early on. According to the European Commission, 80 percent of product-related environmental impacts are determined during the design phase. However, many manufacturers lack adequate information to make tradeoffs about materials based on criteria like cost, weight, or carbon footprint. A change in materials late in the design process can cost millions of dollars. At the same time, manufacturing products with unsustainable products is also costly. Regulatory non-compliance can result in product recalls that impact the bottom line.
  2. Implement tools to make material trade-offs faster. Advanced material selection solutions like Ansys Granta MI Enterprise help teams identify the best alternatives that balance technical, economic, and environmental properties. The Granta MI platform also enables manufacturers to assess bills of materials (BoMs) and run rapid what-if studies to evaluate the impact of different materials, processes, and parts. Using a materials data management platform provides manufacturers with key insights into sustainable packaging, lightweighting, durable design, material circularity, and harmful substances.
  3. Supplement in-house data with information from reference databases. Many companies have access to a broad range of proprietary materials information. Gathering and maintaining this in-house data, however, can be time-consuming. Ansys Granta MI offers generic data from reference databases that can be used as a baseline for rapid environmental assessment and other tasks. The combination of in-house and reference database information supports more educated choices about materials, standardization on sustainable materials, and higher-quality sustainability reports.
  4. Create a single source of truth for materials data. To meet sustainability objectives, designers and engineers need materials data at their fingertips in the CAD, PLM, and simulation systems that they use on a daily basis. Ansys Granta MI integrates with these systems, creating a single source of truth for materials data. Preferred materials and processes can be published to CAD and PLM tools. Sustainability metrics can be flagged directly in design tools. In addition, BoMs can be transferred directly in Ansys Granta MI to evaluate the environmental footprint or restricted substances content.

To learn more about how technology-enabled materials selection can serve as a cornerstone for sustainability programs, feel free to contact us

About the Author

Conrad Magalis

Conrad Magalis is responsible for the adoption of advanced digital engineering practices at Rand Simulation. Conrad has a broad range of experience within manufacturing and industrial industries. His acumen is focused on progressive business and engineering decisions, with practical outcomes.

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