PLANT

How green are your machines?


The Eco Footprint Manager sources data from within the IFS Applications components to drive environmental impact data on a parts-driven basis.

Photo: IFS

As environmental regulations and tax laws advance around the globe, manufacturers are under increasing pressure from governments and consumers to reduce their impact on the environment and have documents to back up their efforts.

Environmental impact software has been around for some time, but it’s more of an overall measurement solution that’s independent from the manufacturing process. What if a manufacturer could track and measure its eco-footprint right down to tooling machines, materials and parts?

IFS, a global supplier of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and enterprise asset management (EAM) systems, have developed a unique Eco-Footprint calculator application for its ERP and EAM suites.

“Green has become increasingly important for our customers to understand the environmental impact of the products they manufacture or assets they operate,” says Rick Veague, chief technology officer at IFS. “With that in mind we built Eco-Footprint as an integral part of our business applications.”

This integrated software management tool allows manufacturers to use existing components within IFS applications to identify what products and processes need to be tracked and document environmental impact by product, work centre, volume, transportation or a range of other parameters.

As a user-defined application, Eco-Footprint operates on a very open structure.

“We built the application to define different aspects of environmental impact, from power consumption and waste created to environmentally controlled substances and carbon emissions,” says Veague. “That can be applied using different formulas to different processes and steps in the manufacturing process. So, if I’m building a product, I can accumulate and roll up the environmental costs.”

IFS’s idea of tracking and measuring environmental cost is in line with exactly how manufacturers develop product cost roll ups—when a product is going to be built, businesses calculate over-all cost, factoring in labour, materials, machine operation time and overhead.

“This gives [companies] visibility in an area that has never really had visibility before. As I would look at where I put my efforts to lower my costs, [Eco-Footprint] tells me where to put my efforts to lower my environmental impact,” says Veague.

The software plots trends, produces plan estimates and monitors the lifecycle of inputs and outputs, from product source and use to recycling, thus helping manufacturers decide what actions will best reduce environmental impact.