Everyone’s talking about sustainability and energy-efficiency. But, for manufacturers, such idealistic goals cannot be pursued apart from their production objectives. Sustainability —using a ‘regenerable’ system so that its essential characteristics are preserved — has to focus on the entire value-creation chain.

At EMO Hannover 2013, September 16-21, several presentations will seek to demonstrate how sustainable production, or sustainable manufacturing, from raw materials to recycling, will secure global competitiveness for the organizations that achieve it.

For example, in the forestry sector, the producers have understood for centuries that they must not fell more trees than can be replaced by new growth. This principle of sustainability is being adopted in modern manufacturing technology, and is fitting that it will be reflected in the motto of the EMO Hannover 2013, “Intelligence in Production”.

“For more and more manufacturing companies, ecological efficiency is the obvious complement to economic efficiency,” observed Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christoph Herrmann, an executive board member of the Institute for Machine Tools and Production Technology (IWF) at Brunswick University of Applied Science.

“But,” Herrmann continued, “changes towards sustainable production are possible only if the product’s entire lifecycle — from raw material procurement, part manufacture and assembly, actual use, all the way through to final disposal, is taken into due account.”

Without such a perspective, “potentials can easily be overlooked, or worse, problems merely relocated from one phase in the lifecycle to another.”

The reason for the latter is that when discussing the entire value -creation chain of a product, “we have to think in terms of beginning-to-end, or complete product and material lifecycles,” explained Herrmann, who at the IWF heads the Product und Lifecycle Management Department. In addition, he also is the academic executive director and a member of the board at Lower Saxony’s Vehicle Technology Research Centre (NFF.)