3. Using market data to reduce resource consumption
A third way in which data can be used to boost sustainability is the use of market data to optimise your production and strategy. Demand forecasting, for example, can produce relatively precise estimates of future demand, enabling manufacturers to avoid overproduction. Other potential benefits include cost savings and possible competitive advantages.
Analysing market data can also help you better understand how your products are used, enabling you to channel your development accordingly. Here’s a relatively straightforward example: a medical device manufacturer manufactures a device which makes most of its sales in Southeast Asia. Based on this insight, it is able to design its product to be less cold-resistant, but better able to operate at high temperatures. The result is increased customer satisfaction and fewer device failures due to high temperatures.
One of the big advantages of market data is that it is generally relatively easy to get hold of. You don’t have to network your devices, often this data is already sitting in your ERP or CRM system. Applied consistently, the primary benefits this approach offers manufacturers are a competitive advantage and cost savings – but with the happy side effect of potentially boosting sustainability.
Partnerships and an ecosystem can be key success drivers
For companies aiming to make really effective use of data or who want to evolve in the direction of a circular economy, there’s one factor the importance of which can’t be overstated. They have to be prepared to look outwards and enter into partnerships with outside entities. Many different combinations are possible:
pharmaceutical/medical technology companies working together on combined therapies
pharmaceutical/medical technology companies working with large tech enterprises to develop data-driven solutions
medical technology companies partnering with health insurers to lease out equipment or agree outcome-based payment models
medical technology companies forming networks with other manufacturers as part of a circular economy ecosystem
improved access to up-to-date supplier sustainability data, enabling you to optimise the environmental footprint of your products
A further area for potential partnership is the sharing of ideas for enhancing sustainability. Sustainability is one area where competition between companies plays much less of a role – sustainability is not a zero sum game. On the contrary, companies can rarely become sustainable on their own – it requires collaboration with partner companies within the relevant ecosystem. And, when other companies become more sustainable, we all benefit. That’s why Zühlke has initiated a Sustainability Circle, where businesses and experts share their thoughts and ideas on sustainability.