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A Green Lean Digital Factory is a Profitable Factory

Vera Schneemann
November 2, 2021

It goes without saying that the more efficient and optimized your manufacturing processes are, the more profitable you’ll be. But have you considered how this profitability could go hand-in-hand with sustainability?

The two might not seem natural allies, but the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis has changed the manufacturing conversation. It’s no longer just about speed-to-market and profitability; it’s about how you transform factories with efficient energy, water and materials in the manufacturing processes to minimize your carbon footprint.

In a survey by the Capgemini Research Institute (CRI), nearly eight in ten manufacturers saw improved efficiency and productivity benefits from sustainability, and more than half reduced packaging costs and increased sales. As if the climate crisis wasn’t a big enough imperative for change, there is clearly also a strong business case to be made for transforming factory operations and processes.

Building smart factories

Digital technologies are increasingly part of this transformation into what Capgemini Invent calls a Green Lean Digital Factory. The smart factories of tomorrow will be ones that produce in an intelligently networked and sustainable way by showing emission transparency and leveraging data to facilitate eco-friendly production. They will encourage ethical sourcing and embed sustainable principles and thinking across the end-to-end supply chain.

We’re not alone in our belief in the critical role of technology and data for accelerating the adoption of a Green Lean Digital Factory model. The CRI survey found that more than half of the manufacturers had prioritized the deployment of technologies to meet their sustainability agenda and drive economic growth.

In the Green Lean Digital Factory, manufacturers can exploit the potential of digital for:

  • Green sourcing and efficient consumption
  • Avoid harmful emissions by using renewable energies such as solar, wind and water power
  • Identify energy inefficient operations by anomaly detection on machine usage and process data
  • Minimize over-production and wastage
  • Digitally optimized processes
  • Optimization and digitization of processes such as planning, production & logistic
  • Effective and efficient resource usage
  • Innovation for sustainability
  • Leverage new technologies, such as carbon capture or storage
  • Use of bio-based and recyclable materials for machines and operations, such as eco-friendly packaging for buffering
  • Closed-loop systems
  • Recirculation of value streams in the production system, such as remanufacturing and energy recovery

Measuring a sustainable ROI

While we typically measure ROI in terms of productivity, cost, speed, sales, etc., in the Green Lean Digital Factory, sustainability is another important metric. For example, the German manufacturing giant Bosch has reduced CO2 emissions at some of its plants by more than 10% over two years. How? By deploying an AI system for its manufacturing facilities, in which intelligent algorithms are used to identify deviations in energy consumption.

Yet, while the climate crisis is urgent and the business case is sound, the manufacturing industry still has a long way to go before holistic sustainable manufacturing becomes the norm. However, the climate crisis demands action now, not tomorrow. Digital technologies offer a way to accelerate sustainable ambitions. Scaling digital technologies offers the potential to reduce waste, improve power/industrial efficiency, cut water usage, make cost savings and, of course, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Isn’t it time to accelerate your Green Lean Digital Factory transformation?

Find out more

Sustainability is an opportunity for growth and profitability. At Capgemini Invent, we work with our clients to deploy green, lean, and digital concepts. We identify recycling potential and assess sustainable technology opportunities. We use data analytics, modelling and simulation to reduce energy consumption. And we optimize processes for efficient, sustainable operations.

Get in touch to find out more:

  • Connect with me at LinkedIn
  • Learn more about our Sustainable Operations and Supply Chain offering here.


Vera Schneemann

Director, Global lead Sustainable Operations & Supply Chain, Capgemini Invent Germany


Deniz Rall

Green Lean Digital Factory, Intelligent & Sustainable Operations, Germany