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Why the future of UK manufacturing is clean

23 July 2021

The contribution of UK manufacturing to create a Net Zero future

With the world’s greenhouse gas emissions still increasing, a clean future is far from a certainty. Since 1970, carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 90%. And despite the Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas emissions are still on the rise. In a world where the climate crisis has become one of the most pressing issues of our time, it’s vital that businesses explore how we can create a Net Zero future. One way that manufacturing is tackling this issue is by investing in new technology and approaches that can produce solutions to these challenges. This blog post will cover some green innovation lessons in manufacturing today, as well as what they mean for all industries moving forward.

Green innovation today

From electric cars to wind farms, UK manufacturing has demonstrated that it has the potential to take us closer to the goal of Net Zero. In Blyth, Northumberland start-up Britishvolt has begun development of a series of gigafactories – large-scale battery technology plants for electric vehicles. Now we need to replicate these developments across Britain and scale green innovations with a combination of investment, incentives and infrastructure.

Green technology is often opposed by business as it is thought to be more expensive and less effective than other alternatives – but that doesn’t have to be the case. At Universal Wolf, we work with our partners to produce innovative, energy saving technology such as the Lontra Blade Compressor, the first clean-sheet compressor design in over 80 years.

Heavy industry depends upon compressors but the currently account for 10 percent of Europe’s industrial electricity use and as much as 40 percent in some plants. That equates to more than 10TWh of electricity every year and 4.3 million tonnes of CO2. Though commonplace, many compressors suffer from air leakage or insufficient compression and can run up high maintenance costs. Despite being a crucial part of everyday life, there has been no major innovation in compressors for almost 80 years.

That’s why we were proud to work with Lontra whose Blade Compressor has the potential to make a substantial difference to energy usage globally. The design and geometry of Lontra’s Blade Compressor mean that it leaks less, uses less energy and is more reliable than traditional machines of this type. With our support, Lontra’s product was a third more efficient than its competitors, offering significant energy savings and delivering improvements in reliability.

The importance of green decision making

The world of metal profiling and welding fabrication may seem remote from the UK’s Net Zero ambitions – but it is clear from this example that every industry can play its part. Every decision – from who to partner with to what materials to use – has potential environmental consequences – and metal bending is no exception. If UK manufacturing is to fulfil its potential in achieving a cleaner future, we have to think beyond wind farms and electric cars and start embracing green decision making at every level of the manufacturing process. That means helping to bring more energy efficient products to market and supporting and working with those businesses whose goal is to make the world better.

In the past, manufacturing was once a dirty word. A byword for smog-filled skies and rivers clogged with rubbish. Today that’s not the case. In a recent survey The Future of Manufacturing Engineer, 65 percent of respondents ranked lean principles and sustainable manufacturing as the most important skills for manufacturing engineers in the next 10 years.

A clean and green future for manufacturing

We now have the knowledge and know-how to use the incredible power of the manufacturing industry to create a sustainable future. And that is what we believe in creating at Universal Wolf: a future in which UK manufacturing is clean and green. A future where we know that the products we are making for our children and the next generation will not only be better than those in the past – but better for the future of the planet. And as we develop new technologies with the potential to make manufacturing more efficient and cleaner, we have a real opportunity to make it happen. The power to change manufacturing is now in our hands.