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Environmental pollution caused by sea freight traffic can be decreased significantly by producing goods locally. With today’s advanced manufacturing and robotics, it is now possible to bring production close to the consumers.

Cargo ships that use heavy fuel oil as their source of energy make the wheels of the global economy turn. Up to 90% of raw materials and goods are transported via sea routes.

Today, cargo ships account for 2–3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It has been estimated that 15 of the world’s largest cargo ships produce more environmental pollution as all the cars in the world. Over five thousand cargo ships sail the oceans just to transport containers. Not all of them pollute as much as large cargo ships, but the emissions they generate are nonetheless staggering.

Despite significant emissions, the pollution caused by ships was not acknowledged in the Paris Agreement in 2015. The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming published in October 2018 highlights an unprecedented, significant need for change in all areas of society in order to restrict global warming to 1.5 °C.

The trend of moving production to countries with cheaper labor and production, which already started in the 1980s, has been the largest single contributor to the increased cargo traffic.

This overseas manufacturing trend has luckily started to show signs of abatement, as companies have started looking into other options.

Many western companies have moved or are in the process of moving their production closer to the end client.

Local manufacturing – impacting ecological sustainability

What, then, can an individual consumer do about this particular issue? The answer is simple: prefer locally produced goods.

Moving production closer to consumers is ecological and cost-efficient, when you add up all the costs. The capital tied to the overseas operations, prepayments, costs arising from inconsistent quality, customs fees and taxes as well as logistics expenses can take even the most diligent manager by surprise. In addition, the ongoing trade war between China and the US causes uncertainty throughout the global economy and weakens the operational conditions and revenues of American companies operating in China.

Many durable goods can be manufactured easily and profitably close to consumers with the help of advanced manufacturing and automation. By increasing local production, controlling the manufacturing operations becomes easier, the need for working capital is reduced and the negative environmental impact is minimized.

The mission of the ANT Plant manufacturing concept developed by EID Robotics is to bring manufacturing back to local production facilities close to the consumer. The ANT Plant manufacturing concept can be used to manufacture different high-quality durable goods from ready-made components in a sustainable manner.

The impact of local production is far-reaching:
  • The need for global freight is decreased.
  • Automated production facilities are energy-efficient.
  • Automated production ensures the highest possible product quality.
  • Business eco-systems around the local factory are activated, supporting wellbeing of the local community

Change takes time

The best strategy by Western manufacturers in transition to sustainable manufacturing, would be to bring the production back from Asian countries back to near the consumers over the coming decades. A fundamental paradigm shift such as this cannot be implemented overnight, but it is critical in supporting sustainable global development.

The time for technological innovations like the ANT Plant manufacturing concept is now, as humankind is faced with the biggest challenge of its time: how can we arrange our lives today so that people in the future will have the same opportunity to live a good and healthy life?

It is high time to take action, and we can all make a difference with our individual acts: by making and buying products locally.

Paavo Käkelä
VP Sales
+358 50 361 3945