You may have heard about the importance of sustainability and reliable operations in business. You may even know they are critical to unlocking an organization’s potential, but what does this mean, and what are practical steps you can implement?
Below are five easy, actionable steps your organization can take to get on track with sustainable operations. But before we dive into these steps, you may be curious about how to define sustainability and reliable operations.
A holistic approach toward sound sustainability practices can help achieve more than a few good PR campaigns or slow progress toward ESG goals. Sustainability is the marriage of environmental and economic sustainability that can quickly drive organizational change and impact industry. Factoring sustainability into the context of asset management initially adds a dimension of complexity. Still, it pays off in cost savings, customer loyalty, and the health of operations, employees and the environment.
Sustainable operations translate into greater efficiency. It means that energy consumption lines up with environmental standards, and assets are operating cost and energy-efficiently. It also means approaching every aspect of work and planning to maximize the sustainability of timing, price, materials and consumption.
Organizations can measure sustainability across five dimensions:
• Corporate: maintaining or exceeding ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and CSR (corporate social responsibility) goals from the top down
• Supply chain: partnering with sustainable suppliers and adopting new technologies to increase efficiency
• Operational: maintaining equipment health and supporting efficient operations from the bottom up
• Materials: reducing waste both materially and financially
• Financial: realizing the economic benefits of sustainability while increasing market share
Reliable operations are designed to ensure assets consistently function as expected within defined operating conditions. While sustainability refers to operational efficiency and environmental balance, asset reliability is geared toward meeting stakeholder requirements, business requirements and regulatory requirements. It includes reducing unplanned downtime and allowing organizations to optimize operational efficiencies.
Here are five actionable steps your organization can implement immediately to drive organizational value and increase sustainability:
As with any significant endeavor, the first step in achieving sustainable and reliable operations is to create a framework. If the organization is aligned from the start and individuals understand both the tangible and intangible benefits, you can achieve greater momentum and progress.
When everyone inside an organization aligns on value, they can get behind the process. Here are questions that will help you create alignment within your organization:
• What tangible and intangible value will this initiative deliver?
• What are the operational and visionary constraints for success?
• How do you want to define value and return on investment?
• How can the organization communicate the value these initiatives will bring to the business in a way that allows individuals to trust the process and follow through?
To ensure the initiative’s success, you want to implement changes at a reasonable pace within achievable timeframes. A great place to start is with the most critical issues your business faces that are also the simplest to solve.
Once you’ve identified your business’ most significant issues, determine which one you can most easily address for the greatest impact. This is your starting point and an excellent way to begin with measurable results that can propel future momentum.
When you start sustainability and reliability efforts focusing on what impacts your business, you help everyone align on value and give yourself a quick win. The results are better follow-through, greater impact and executive buy-in.
An initiative may be significant and have value, but if the people who need to implement it aren’t motivated, don’t understand why it is important, or don’t have the right tools, it will not get very far. Success in driving organizational value through sustainable and reliable operations will depend on key people in your company.
How will this change make your employees more effective at what they do? It helps communicate the value any initiative may bring to the company, but it is just as essential to connect it on a personal level and identify the value it can bring to your employees’ daily lives.
When you define the tangible and intangible value of your efforts, prioritize key problems that will bring impact and benefit, and inspire and motivate your people to buy in, you create alignment across the business.
Operating at the highest level requires overcoming any cultural biases that keep IT and OT functioning separately. Many sustainability and reliability initiatives require a convergence of IT and OT. Value engineering studies help facilitate this convergence by providing teams with probable value outcomes, but the efforts need to be guided by the right vision.
The alignment of these two crucial departments starts with the vision, standards and goals to achieve the bigger picture of reliability and sustainability. Once the vision, standards and goals are defined, the teams can align on the best practices and tools to get there.
The best path forward is not one that’s best for OT or best for IT, but one in which they work together to achieve the goals of the business. With the right vision, you can identify the necessary tools and training to ensure your teams can execute the vision.
If you have a vision, alignment and buy-in, you still need to ensure your teams have the right tools, practices, and training in place to execute. When you deliver the proper tools, this is where vision starts to translate into performance.
When you enable your organization with an accessible vision and a well-defined set of standards and goals, and you’ve given everyone the necessary material to really be their best and excel in the new vision, you can get to a state of performance. You have successfully enabled and empowered your organization to succeed.
Pave the Way for a more Sustainable Future
If any of these five elements are missing, your efforts toward sustainability and reliability may fail. You need alignment across the business, early wins that establish clear value, buy-in from employees who will lead or execute the work, coordination between key departments and the proper tools and training. Each step along the path brings its own benefits, and the consistent execution of a clear vision can unlock organizational value beyond what was originally conceived.
The five actionable steps outlined above pave the way for the realization of the greater good through sustainable business practices. Achieving sustainability across the world can’t happen from a consumer standpoint alone; the impact is not great enough. Sustainability needs to be driven at the enterprise level to make measurable change.
It is time for technology and industry to come together for greater environmental consciousness. However, it is not only an altruistic effort. These steps provide organizations with real and measurable financial and operational benefits. When you point your organization in the right direction for greater sustainable practices today, you are actively playing your part in this necessary and important global movement.