Sustainable industry – 6 steps to a more sustainable production

We all have to take ecological responsibility. In this article, we will show you how industrial production can become more sustainable using 6 effective measures.

Industrial manufacturing is not at the spearhead of the sustainability movement. But in the face of alarming climate change, politicians, shareholders and customers are increasing the pressure on companies to operate more ecologically. If companies do not want to risk a drop in demand, it is in their own interest to realign themselves. A new beginning can be felt in many industries.

One of the pioneers is the automotive industry. In a 2021 Deloitte survey, 89 percent of managers in automotive groups said sustainability was an essential part of their organization. 40 percent stressed that they consider the entire value chain in their sustainability initiatives.

Even if companies are not yet feeling any economic pressure to act more sustainably. The legal framework in Germany and the EU is currently changing. One example is the European CSR guidelines (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) .

In April 2021, the EU Commission presented a proposal to restructure the current CSR guidelines, and the new rules are expected to come into force in 2023. The aim of the new guidelines: To oblige companies to include their sustainability activities in their management report. This should make it easier to compare the sustainability of companies in the EU. Several thousand companies in Germany would be affected by the change.

The proposal also stipulates that companies must publish all facts relevant to sustainability that are necessary to understand the company’s business development and results and to be able to comprehend the impact of the company’s actions on society and ecology.

Regardless of whether companies will be affected by the legal changes, the example shows that sustainability is no longer a marginal issue and must become the focus of corporate thinking.

There are many ways in which companies can make their processes more climate-friendly, resource-saving and socially responsible. Some measures are well on the way to becoming the new standard: Companies are switching to green electricity, offering their employees e-bikes, paying attention to energy-efficient hardware and relying on regional food in their canteens. But in production, in particular, change has been slow to come. Here, too, it’s not all that difficult to reconcile climate and profit.

6 measures how production can improve the environmental footprint

Avoid waste during processes

When machines produce components, they usually cut them into blocks of material with extreme precision. This produces waste that is not reused. Up to now, manufacturers have generally accepted this because precision is crucial, and they are not aware of other reliable processes.

With its production of drive and transmission shafts, Felss shows that the demands for precision can very well be combined with sustainability. In the innovative axial forming and rotary swaging processes, tubes are no longer milled or turned, but cold, semi-hot or hot formed without cutting. Waste is thus reduced to zero.

Reduce lubricants

It is impossible to imagine industry without lubricants. But crude oil is one of the main drivers of the climate crisis. Simply save on use? Not an option. If you save, you risk friction and wear. In Germany alone, this damage to machinery costs companies around 30 billion euros a year. Nevertheless, there are ways to switch to sustainable lubricants.

Felss, for example, will be using water-based lubricants for its machines in the future.

Execute maintenance digitally

Manufacturers of new industrial products or purchasers of new machines are making no insignificant investment. To minimize the risk of planning errors, prototypes are part of everyday product planning. However, it is not sustainable to produce different threads or housings only to determine how the molds should still be optimized.

For cost reasons alone, companies should switch to digital simulations wherever possible. Using 3D CAD visualizations and VR goggles, manufacturers can quickly allow customers to view different product design options without consuming resources. Even the fit of machines into the production environment can be visualized on the computer with millimeter precision using specialized software.

VR glasses are not only ideal for planning, but also for the maintenance of machinery and equipment.

When machines break down, every minute costs. With specialized equipment, companies sometimes have to wait days for service technicians from the manufacturer to arrive to analyze the problem. If they have to order spare parts, it’s not just more waiting time. The environment is also burdened again by the journey or flight.

It is more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly if companies equip internal employees with AR glasses. Felss has been testing the use of such data glasses for some time with encouraging success.

Customers and service technicians use the glasses to get remote assistance with problems. They share the field of view of their glasses live with a technician from headquarters. The latter can give them instructions via audio transmission to find the cause of the malfunction and fix it directly. He can also send instructions directly to the glasses, project hint arrows and drawings into the real environment, ensuring efficient action.

Plans are already underway to use AR glasses at Felss Systems and Felss Rotaform for other areas of application in the future in order to handle projects across locations without the need for travel.

Develop long-lasting machines and components

It’s not just a question of sustainability: the longer machines run, the greater the return on investment. However, it is not enough to rely on solid quality. Companies often fail in their attempt to operate more sustainably because spare parts are no longer available or they have to modernize their equipment for competitive reasons. Then old machines with repairable defects are disposed of and even fully functional equipment is replaced.

Felss therefore guarantees to keep original spare parts available for many of its machines, even beyond the minimum period of 10 years. We also offer retrofit solutions that allow companies to modernize their machines in a cost-saving manner.

Reduce CO2

The obligation to hold an emissions certificate for every ton of CO2 emitted makes it attractive for companies in the EU to look for environmentally friendly production processes. After all, lower CO2 emissions benefit sales and the environment.

However, the automotive industry cannot avoid a fundamental reorientation toward reduced-carbon and new carbon-free drive technologies if it is to meet the German government’s binding CO targets. It is not yet possible to predict which technologies will prevail in Germany. Elsewhere, clear trends are already emerging: In countries with high reserves of fossil fuels such as the USA, further development of the internal combustion engine dominates, while in countries with high electricity capacity such as China, electric drives are the focus of the industry.

But it doesn’t always take such fundamental changes in direction to achieve significant CO2 savings. Felss has cleverly reduced the weight of its components in recent years and has thus been able to massively reduce CO2 emissions in production. Because the calculation is simple: The more material is used, the more energy must be expended and the more greenhouse gases are produced.

Establish circulation system

The linear economic model is overexploiting our planet. The more sustainable alternative is a circular economy in which there is no or hardly any waste. Companies then use by-products and waste products to produce something new and use recycled materials. In this way, they not only act in a more resource-conserving way, but also increase the resilience of their value chains, which are becoming a cost factor due to increasingly scarce resources and a risk factor due to long transport routes.

No company can switch to a circular economy overnight. This is because it requires the involvement of all departments, from research and development to production, HR and IT. But it is also worthwhile in monetary terms to take steps in the direction of sustainable resource use. Felss follows the circular economy model and uses used and remanufactured parts in its production. According to a KPMG study, companies can reduce their energy consumption in the production process by up to 80 percent through remanufacturing. It should not be concealed that the initial investment is high if companies want to integrate recycling into their production. But the time is right to get started. This is because politicians are planning to launch subsidy programs for companies in the course of the year.


Just a few years ago, sustainability was considered a marginal issue and an image factor. Today, we live in a completely different world. Political pressure and changes in the legal framework, together with shortages of raw materials and bottlenecks in the supply chains, are ensuring that sustainability is becoming a key business issue. Sustainable solutions can be decisive value drivers. It is therefore in the very own interest of companies to transform themselves.

In fact, a lot is happening right now. Management is rethinking. In production, however, only a few companies have so far exploited the potential for a positive sustainability balance sheet. We hope that our 6 impulses have given you inspiration for your first or next steps toward changes that will benefit the climate and sales alike.

Are you already implementing ecological measures in production? Join the discussion on LinkedIn.