May 9, 2024

Sustainable manufacturing: How your efficiency helps the environment

  • Manage systems and machines
  • Two things can be true at once. On the one hand, global manufacturing production continues to grow, up 1.5% as of Q4 2023 (year over year). New developments in smart manufacturing continue to push the competitive edge for the entire sector. 

    At the same time, 2023 set new benchmarks for ocean heat, sea level rise, ice loss in Antarctic Sea ice, and glacier retreat. The consequences of global warming are manifesting in day-to-day life, sometimes disrupting supply chain operations themselves.  

    Given the undeniable ties between manufacturing output and environmental impact, there is plenty of work left to do to reduce our carbon footprint. 

    The good news is that manufacturers are trying to do better, up and down the global supply chain. In the United States, for example, more than 200 clean technology manufacturing facilities have been announced since 2019.  

    Manufacturers are also discovering the business case for sustainable operations, which is growing stronger by the day. This includes: 

    • Reducing cost and limiting waste 

    • Improving public standing and brand reputation

    • Meeting new regulatory demands  

    • Positioning for longer-term viability

    One area of focus is outsized carbon emissions, in which travel plays a central role. Many manufacturers still rely heavily on travel throughout their operations, from supporting industrial machines onsite, to providing daily IT support. With the right technology in place, much of that travel becomes unnecessary — or at least drastically reduced. 

    Recently, Five Glaciers Consulting published a study on the environmental impact of TeamViewer’s remote connectivity solutions. The study found that TeamViewer helped its users and customers avoid approximately 41 million tons of CO2 in 2022. That’s the equivalent of approximately: 

    • 42,000 roundtrip flights from London to Tokyo in a Boeing 777-300ER 

    • 10x the emissions of Germany’s entire waste management sector

    • All the CO2 stored in 147,000 hectares of U.S. forests 

    How? By providing the means for more efficient operations, improving the experience of frontline employees, and even eliminating certain travel needs altogether. Here’s a closer look at these strategies in practice.

    Reduce operating costs and downtime

    One of the clearest ways to reduce environmental impact is to do more with what you already have. Easier said than done, especially in a sector so fraught with stiff competition. Yet, remote connectivity unlocks new means for streamlining labor costs, maintenance, and downtime:

    Improve employee efficiency to reduce direct labor cost

    This is one of the most significant and challenging categories of manufacturing costs. Rising costs are the number one supply chain concern for 71% of global organizations. It’s also an area, in which remote connectivity solutions are particularly suitable for improving efficiency.

    For example, TeamViewer Frontline Make is an AR solution capable of providing visual cues to frontline workers wearing smart glasses. With Frontline Make, a frontline employee can get on-the-job guidance in real-time, helping them to avoid costly mistakes that might slow down or degrade production quality. This is achieved using built-in quality assurance features, which help check and approve each step of the assembly process in real time. For the worker, AR-powered solutions can speed up training, improve performance, and reduce workplace stress.

    Airbus is a great example of how remote connectivity solutions like Frontline Make can improve operating costs. By digitalizing their comprehensive inspection processes, the aerospace manufacturer was able to achieve 100% data reliability, 40% faster gearbox inspections, all while going 100% paperless.

    Minimize downtime when and where it happens — immediately

    One of the reasons downtime is so costly is that it can be difficult to identify, diagnose, and address the cause in a timely manner. And time is money in manufacturing: even a few seconds of downtime can translate to significant consequential costs. 

    Instead of sending a tech onsite to address issues, integrating remote connectivity IT systems can resolve machine downtime with the help of a remote expert. What used to take minutes, hours, or even days can be achieved much faster — from nearly any location on the planet. 

    Improve training engagement and outcomes

    The manufacturing sector is not immune to the widespread labor shortage. In the United States alone, some 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2030. It’s critical that manufacturers shorten time to value for their frontline workforce, especially along production processes requiring a high degree of quality assurance.

    By investing in innovative remote connectivity software solutions, employers can gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent. Employees value companies that prioritize their professional development and provide them with the resources they need to excel, including robust remote troubleshooting and training capabilities.

    A solution like Frontline Make makes training interactive with AR or mixed reality, providing a far more hands-on (and effective) training experience. The result is a more efficient onboarding and upskilling process overall, one that better prepares the workforce to adapt to new ways of troubleshooting. This is critical to retention: when frontline workers feel that their employers are invested in training them to succeed, they are far more likely to stick around.

    Manage infrastructure

    In the world of always-on production lines, mismanaged infrastructure can cause even minor issues to balloon. In the case of framas, a plastic components manufacturer with 13 locations worldwide, sustainable operations depend on the ability to provide efficient and secure IT support for employee devices. 

    This often means accessing infrastructure-critical terminals in production, which employees can now do remotely (and securely). At a global level, the framas IT team can now monitor its global device pool to facilitate faster, more efficient service.

    Accessing, managing, and controlling devices across a digitalized value chain has become a critical pillar of sustainability for manufacturers like framas. Beyond enabling its employees, this modern approach to IT infrastructure management improves two other important aspects of manufacturing: 


    When the number of production facilities and connected employee devices grows, so does the number of connections. The last thing any production line needs is a security breach — bad for efficiency and cost control, and potentially catastrophic for customer relations. Herein lies the power of enforcing access controls, authentication measures, and encryption for each connection.

    After-market services

    Interest in after-market services is high among industrial players, to the tune of 71% according to Deloitte. With such robust remote connectivity solutions at hand, few manufacturers can afford the hit to business continuity that comes with constantly sending techs onsite to service customers.

    The business benefits of greener manufacturing

    Helping the planet can help the bottom line. As good as they are for the environment, well-optimized operations and reduced waste are also good for the business. Investments in efficient IT support, employee training, and beyond create working environments that help to attract (and retain) employees. 

    They can also translate to more tangible ROI. Strong ESG scores can translate to approximately a 10% reduction in capital costs (McKinsey). According to the World Economic Forum’s Beyond Supply Chains report, ethical supply chain practices can reduce supply chain costs by up to 16%. 

    But manufacturers won’t be able to realize these value propositions without modernizing their approach to connectivity. New pressures, including remote work and rising fuel costs, arise daily. As do new concerns about where the global environment is headed.

    The cost for inaction is high. A Swiss Re Institute stress-test analysis revealed that 18% of GDP could disappear from the world economy if no action is taken on climate change. It’s a great opportunity for manufacturers to step up. 


    While it will take much more than one solution to reach carbon net zero, TeamViewer represents a simple yet highly effective step towards more sustainability in manufacturing. By enabling remote connectivity and collaboration across the supply chain, manufacturers can contribute significantly to a greener future.

    About the author

    Ariadna Petticrew

    Marketing Program Specialist at TeamViewer

    Ari is an agile digital marketing specialist focused on B2B programs with a diverse background in developing and executing strategies for tech companies. She began her career in SMB markets but motivated by her passion for the latest trends and exciting challenges, she has transitioned her skills into the enterprise sector focusing on the manufacturing industry.

    Ready to explore how TeamViewer can help your production processes be more sustainable?