Fireside chat: Where efficiency meets sustainability
In today’s manufacturing landscape, business value and sustainability go hand-in-hand. More and more companies seek to create value through efficiency and technology, which often bring sustainability benefits of their own. Sit down with Bill King, Chief Scientist at Fast Radius, and Katie McClain, Partner at Energize Ventures, as they discuss efficiency, sustainability, and the future of manufacturing.
Bill: Hi, I’m Bill King, Chief Scientist at Fast Radius. And with me today is Katie McClain, Partner at Energize Ventures. Hi, Katie.
Katie: Hi, Bill.
Bill: How are you doing?
Katie: I’m great! How are you doing? Thanks for having me.
Bill: Thanks for being here. I’m excited to talk about sustainable manufacturing with you today.
Katie: Me, too.
Bill: So there’s a way for companies to achieve their sustainability goals and also to get tangible business benefits at the same time.
Katie: Absolutely, we’re seeing a lot of sustainability benefits that also benefit companies in other ways. We’ve got a company that we’ve invested in, and they have drone analytics. And what they do is they help solar developers who used to have to walk hundreds of acres to measure out their solar project. Now, you can fly a drone over that land to get the same information, and so you’re seeing that efficiency element there and that’s what is going to drive a lot of the sustainability benefits as well: being more efficient.
Bill: I want to talk about how we can drive business value and sustainability at the same time. That they’re not opposites, but in fact, we can do both of them together.
Katie: Yeah, when we look at sustainability, it’s efficiency a lot of the time. And so folks are getting that double benefit of doing things more efficiently, doing them more effectively, doing them faster. And then there’s a sustainability benefit because it’s just the best way to do things, and so you’re seeing a lot of companies come around to that.
I think you’ll see a lot of additional benefits because — we’re really so new in the sustainability space and you’re seeing these corporates making these big announcements but haven’t really implemented their action plans yet — and so you’ll see a lot of innovation coming in the next couple of years on the implementation side of things. We made the announcements, we’ve made the goals, and now how do we achieve those goals.
Bill: Manufacturing has a reputation as an industry that’s dark, dirty, and dangerous. How do you see technology changing that, and what do you think is the future of manufacturing?
Katie: I think manufacturing is at a really interesting point right now. You’re seeing a lot of innovation. We see a lot of startup companies that have new software, new technologies to help make manufacturing — make it more efficient, make it safer. I think safety is a big driver for a lot of these software movements, as well. We’re seeing that all over in different areas.
And manufacturing is not alone. We see it in energy, we see it in multiple industrial settings. I think the future of manufacturing will be digital, it will be software-first. It’ll be much more efficient. And I think that you’ll be making the parts much closer to the customers as well.
Bill: So why now? Why is the world ready for sustainable manufacturing technologies?
Katie: Yeah, I think it’s a couple of different drivers. I think that customers are asking for it. So once you have the customers really asking for that sustainability, and that software and digital solution, that’s a big driver behind it. You’ve got investors asking for it as well, and so when you have that combination between customers, investors, I think it’s this big set of everyone coming together and realizing this is the future and where we need to head.
Bill: Katie, thank you so much for joining us. It was a great discussion.
Katie: Thank you, Bill. It’s been my pleasure.