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While sustainability is top of mind in most companies’ mission or purpose statement, few have the visibility and processes in place across the supply chain to achieve these goals today.

This is the major focus of a new video, “Forward – The Next Normal with Baratunde Thurston: Accelerating Sustainability.”

Forward references a 2021 Oxford Economics survey of a thousand supply chain decision makers across industries and around the world, of which 88% have either created a clear mission statement around sustainability or they're in the process of writing one.

This sounds great in theory, but in practice only 52% have put those words into action to reduce their shipping miles. The numbers are even more troubling when you look into the supply chain where, according to the survey, less than half of respondents have significant visibility into their own sourcing of sustainable products. And only 21% have complete visibility into their supplier sourcing of sustainable products.

Forward also looks into companies’ business processes and supply chain to find out how green they actually are, highlighting that “every company knows that the financial cost of what they're doing, but it's now time to factor in the environmental costs too.”

Sustainability by design

A recent Forbes article highlights the partnership between Porsche and equipment supplier Shuler, who created a state of the art, highly flexible, Smart Press Shop that makes automotive parts on demand to reduce waste.

“In the intelligent and fully networked Smart Press Shop, we can use predictive maintenance and reduce scrap by increasing the quality of the parts produced with big data and artificial intelligence in order to ensure productivity, while also reducing energy requirements,” said Dr. Timo Böhm, Project Manager, Smart Press Shop GmbH & Co.

And it's just one example of the ways that companies can make positive environmental changes in their supply chain. Companies need to look across a product's lifecycle from design to decommission. And that means that companies will have to redesign their business processes to meet their sustainability goals.

Talking electric vehicles with Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team

In recent years, as consumers become more aware of the impact of fossil fuels in the environment and got burned by fluctuating gas prices, there's been a huge up take in demand for electric cars.

During the video there was a great discussion with Ian James, Team Principal of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, who competed in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship for the first time in 2019.

They're not only doing it to win trophies. They're also doing it to win customers and Mercedes-Benz isn't just doing it under the hood using business systems, they were able to find the right parts and vendors to shift gears to build a better electric racing car.

“Mercedes-Benz has been involved in motorsport for some hundred and 26 years now,” said James. “It's got an incredible heritage and we've always used motorsport and racing as a test bed for new technology.”

James discussed how the company leveraging the lessons learned on the racetrack, to bring innovation to the road.

“We have a great team over here in the UK, in Mercedes AMG High Performance Power trains,” said James. “That same team has been tasked with supporting the development of a new concept car, which is called the vision EQXX And what we're aiming to do with that is to actually, for the first time, develop a car, which is capable of a thousand-kilometer range in real-world driving.”

James also discussed the importance of not only developing sustainable products, but also having a sustainable supply chain.

“Only a couple of weeks ago, Mercedes announced the new strategy which is very much centered around moving to a fully electric future,” said James. “So you've got to look at the whole chain of events which goes into producing those vehicles.”

The need for speedy action

In wrapping up the session, Baratunde explained, ”The 2020s have been named the decade of action by the United nations, which calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world's biggest challenges.”

This is becoming a reality in the automotive and many other industries informed consumers are pushing manufacturers to provide sustainability information about both the products, and the processes that make and deliver them.

“If consumers and governments and businesses continue to work together to look deeply both inside their organizations and across the supply chain and design manufacture, and deliver with sustainability in mind, then together, we can drive towards a more sustainable future,” said Baratunde.

Watch the full video to learn how electric cars and sustainability across the supply chain are changing the automotive industry.

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