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Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability: Powering the Green Industrial Revolution 

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is helping manufacturers take control of their environmental initiatives and fast-track progress to a more sustainable future.

Achieve manufacturing sustainability

In an era where sustainability has transformed from a buzzword to a business imperative, manufacturers find themselves at a crossroads. The need to reduce their environmental impact, while enhancing operational efficiency, is driving companies to find innovative and disruptive solutions.

Recognising this need, Microsoft has introduced Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, a pioneering platform that brings together a growing set of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) tools from across Microsoft’s cloud portfolio, plus solutions from its global ecosystem of partners.

This powerhouse combination provides manufacturers with the transparency and insights they need to manage their environmental footprint, embed sustainable practices through their end-to-end operation and create new value in a rapidly changing landscape.

It does so by addressing four common sustainability challenges:

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability transforms these challenges into efficiencies that are good for business and the planet:

Let's explore these green manufacturing transformations in greater depth.

Unify data intelligence

Manufacturers across industries are under increasing pressure from stakeholders, regulators and customers to report and manage the environmental impact of their operations. 

Manufacturing operations and the supply chains that support them are more complex than ever. Mapping the full environmental footprint of a manufacturing value chain is a time-consuming and difficult task.

Imagine a world where your organisation’s data is effortlessly collected, organised and analysed. With Cloud for Sustainability, this vision becomes a reality. 

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability acts as your manufacturing organisation’s central nervous system, collecting and centralising data from any business system or platform.

Streamlining the collection process and converting raw data into a common format breaks down siloes and enables you to continuously measure and monitor emissions, waste, water and energy. 

Calculated estimates for Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and several categories of Scope 3, can also be generated through prebuilt, dynamic formulas to provide a near real-time record of your carbon and water footprint. This makes it easier to create and deliver accurate, reliable and auditable sustainability reports to the public and regulatory bodies. 

Consistent visibility into emissions activity, coupled with actionable insights delivered through simple dashboards, mean you always know which areas require more attention and if you’re on track to achieve your sustainability goals. 

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability

Accelerating the pace of progress by making it easier for manufacturers to record, report and reduce their environmental impact.

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Build a sustainable IT infrastructure

In the drive to adopt sustainable practices and solutions, one crucial element can slip through the cracks – your IT department. Energy-hungry servers, inefficient devices and the mounting problem of electronic waste are often overshadowed by more visible priorities such as vehicles, materials and factory processes.

Yet, manufacturing technology holds the key to unlocking substantial – almost immediate – environmental gains. Simply migrating workloads to the Microsoft Cloud, for example, can be up to 93% more energy efficient and up to 98% more carbon efficient than on-premise options.

The devices you use also contribute to your environmental footprint. You need to be able to make informed decisions about recyclable and repairable devices, with a focus on both embedded carbon and circularity. 

Device sustainability starts with design and extends through responsible sourcing, product use and end-of-life. Microsoft products and solutions, for example, are designed, built, operated and retired with sustainability in mind. The Microsoft Circular Centers are a prime example. 

The Microsoft Cloud is powered by millions of servers and a range of networking and storage hardware in data centres spread across more than 60 regions globally. On average, a server has a lifespan of five years. This creates a huge amount of electronic waste. 

The ‘Circular Center’ is a first-of-its-kind area in a Microsoft data centre facility where equipment is broken down into its individual components and given a second life. Servers might find a second life in schools or job training programmes, and reclaimed memory cards might be used in electronic toys or gaming systems. 

Takeback and buyback models have also been successfully demonstrated with Microsoft’s original asset suppliers, resulting in significant emissions reductions and material recovery. All contribute to Microsoft’s goal of reusing or recycling 90% of its cloud computing hardware assets by 2025.  

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability – accelerating the pace of progress by making it easier for manufacturers to adopt sustainable technologies and strategies

Reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing operations

With the right data intelligence, manufacturers can direct targeted efforts to lessen the environmental impact of operational systems and processes. Positive actions often include transitioning to clean energy, raising the efficiency of buildings and equipment, modernising supply routes and promoting collaboration internally and externally. 

This is now easier thanks to a global ecosystem of partners delivering solutions powered by Microsoft Cloud that use advanced analytics, machine learning and virtual models to help manufacturers optimise the efficiencies of their facilities, fleets and production processes. 

Collaboration is an essential part of any sustainable strategy. Bringing different groups together to work sparks innovation, promotes knowledge sharing and creates a shared purpose. Microsoft Teams empowers everyone involved in sustainability efforts to collaborate seamlessly.

Sustainability leaders can quickly and easily engage with contributors such as system and process experts, department heads, energy providers, key suppliers and C-suite leaders to share insights and resolve issues faster. By enabling, tracking and storing conversations in context for easy access and reference, Microsoft Teams creates a living work thread to keep progress going. 

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability – accelerating the pace of progress by making it easier for manufacturers to optimise the performance of their operations and assets.  

Create sustainable value chains

As much as 90% of a manufacturer’s carbon emissions originate outside of its operation within the value chain – either upstream (through the supply chain) or downstream (in product use and disposal). 

The problem is most organisations don’t currently have access to the data they need to measure their environmental impact in this space. Without data insights, they can’t know the full impact of each supplier in their chain or understand the cost and carbon impact of changing suppliers. 

Digital tools from Microsoft and its partners delivered through Cloud for Sustainability can help manufacturers create greater transparency and accountability through their value chain to drive efficiencies, reduce emissions and minimise waste. 

Microsoft Sustainability Manager, for example, helps break down data silos across emissions sources with a publicly available Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability data model, which can be shared with value chain partners to centralise emissions data in a common format.

Pairing that system of record with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems allows manufacturers to populate data and manage the supply chain in real-time. 

Digitally connecting suppliers through Cloud for Sustainability not only enhances upstream and downstream visibility, it also helps create more circular products and services by facilitating reuse, repurposing, and refurbishment.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability – accelerating the pace of progress by making it easier for manufacturers to promote transparency and accountability through the value chain. 

Contact HSO to find out how Microsoft technology can support sustainability throughout your manufacturing organisation. 

How technology can help achieve sustainable manufacturing goals

As net-zero deadlines loom, manufacturers across the world are struggling to accelerate their company's sustainability journey.

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