In the past, sustainable options were considered expensive and difficult to implement while reaching strategic goals. However, as technology has advanced, this is no longer the case.

Author Nick Saraev

Photo: Freepik

It’s a win-win when we are more conscious about our resources and waste. Not only do we take care of the environment, but we take care of our profitability and customer expectations. 

During our recent Copperberg Select, Lisa Hellqvist spoke with Andrea Pelizzaro from Alfa Laval about how pushing for sustainability has helped drive profitability. They debunked some of the most prevalent myths surrounding sustainability in manufacturing.  

Myth One: Sustainability and Profit 

For years it was true that taking the sustainable route in manufacturing meant investing extra money and creating a product that may be seen as inferior. This line of thinking needs to be updated. 

Research shows that sustainability-driven innovations could unlock economic value of up to $12 trillion globally by 2030. This comes from both shrinking the overhead costs of production and boosting the sales price of items. 

73% of industrial customers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products and services. There is a growing demand for eco-friendly offerings as more and more Gen Z professionals enter the workforce. 

Pelizzaro saw this in full effect. He found that some customers proactively asked for sustainability data and focused effort, coming to Alfa Laval with extensive questions. They were looking for

  • Greater transparency around carbon footprint and processes 
  • Optimised machinery that supports the customer in polluting less
  • Green practices incorporated throughout the value chain, including service delivery 

As the demand for sustainable practices grows, companies willing to make changes and engage with the questions will be able to scale far more. The competitive advantages of maintaining these standards far outweigh the initial costs of setting them in motion.  

Myth Two: Focusing too much on sustainability limits innovation in other areas

It’s easy to imagine that advancements in tech stand in opposition to ecological care, especially when you hear stories about how AI impacts the environment. However, lots of innovative practices in the manufacturing and aftermarket spheres actually improve sustainability. 

When striving to maintain a reputation for being an environmentally friendly brand, you are far more likely to investigate and invest in emerging tech like remote maintenance. 

You can see this in action with some of the fresh programs and tech that world-class companies have implemented recently, including 

  • Remanufacture-as-a-Service – Taking back used equipment to refurbish, leading to reduced waste and significant cost savings compared to buying new
  • Parts Take-Back Program – Allow customers to dispose of used parts by returning them to you, where they are refurbished and reintroduced to the supply chain 
  • Predictive Maintenance – Detect equipment issues early with IIoT to prevent downtime, reduce repairs, and minimise resource usage 
  • Remote Service with Augmented Reality – Use augmented reality to troubleshoot and support customers remotely. This reduces travel emissions and costs for technicians

These are just a few of the cutting-edge innovations that can drive both your sustainability efforts and your bottom-line profits. 

Myth Three: It’s impossible to get enthusiastic buy-in for sustainability initiatives 

To successfully roll out a green initiative, you need to get buy-in from all the stakeholders involved. 


While sustainability is likely on the list of values that your C-suite is invested in, not every team will make it a major priority without proof that it will drive business outcomes. It’s vital that you get buy-in at this level because it will trickle down and show the entire company how important this initiative is. 

You can’t tell the effect something has on sustainability or your bottom line without collecting data on it. The more connected you are, the more you understand how the machine behaves, and the more your algorithm will be able to predict what’s possible. 

To show the progress of your initiative and the growth that is possible in the future, there are several KPIs you can track. Ones that are specific to sustainability include 

  • Carbon neutrality 
  • Remote sessions vs. in person 
  • Amount of renewable energy used 
  • Number of service contracts 
  • Energy savings
  • Cost savings 

The more hard data you can show, the easier it will be to get investment from executives. 

Team Members

Just like any transformation, one of the biggest reasons for pushback among team members is a change in routine. Your sales team has sold products in the same way for decades, by focusing on the product itself. 

To bake sustainability into your entire company, you need to equip the sales force to sell the environmental impact as a part of the overall value of your products. Give them information that will excite customers such as 

  • Total cost of ownership
  • Fuel savings
  • Emissions rates
  • Generated income

The more tangible these improvements are, the easier it will be to sell them. 


We are seeing more legislation coming into effect that demands manufacturers and brands offer a completely transparent view of their sustainability.  These laws won’t only affect you, but also your B2B customer base. 

Even if sustainability isn’t top of mind for your partners, it will be for the end user. If your company is seen as a green leader, then working with you will also boost your customers’ reputations and compliance. 

Sustainable Service in Action 

Let’s zoom in on one of the initiatives that Pelizzaro’s team put in place for sustainability. They focused on using augmented reality and remote monitoring to reduce the amount of travelling that their technicians did. 

Instead of going on-site, technicians can be placed in a digital room to look at machinery remotely. Engineers may eliminate the need for travel entirely. The effect of this is three-pronged. 

Firstly, the time between getting a call and starting to work on it is dramatically shortened, exceeding customer expectations and allowing more work to be done in a day. 

Secondly, reduced travel can have a huge impact on emissions. Less driving or flying means less pollution.   

And finally, eliminating long, gruelling trips will improve the mental health and quality of life for technicians, making the program sustainable for the environment and your team.

In Conclusion 

The narrative surrounding sustainability in manufacturing has undergone a significant transformation, and your team needs to be prepared. By prioritising sustainable practices, you demonstrate alignment with your customers’ values, build stronger relationships, and potentially command a premium for your services. 

The message is clear: embracing sustainable practices is not just a moral imperative but a strategic advantage. We are seeing a paradigm shift where sustainability is synonymous with innovation and growth.

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