Viewpoints on Innovation

Sustainability Shout Out: 3M Advancing Sustainability During COVID Using Digital Tools

Industrial Manufacturing Medical Device Healthcare
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3M continues to uphold its core pillars of sustainability during COVID-19: Science for the Circular, Science for Climate, and Science for Community. 3M has worked hard to embed sustainability in its product development and manufacturing processes. They have a digital factory program that uses advanced analytics and digital modeling to explore inefficiencies.

While working remotely, two employees identified excess material at a plant that might be suitable for a simple, yet effective face shield. 

An article written by Dr. Gayle Schueller, the Chief Sustainability Officer, recounts, "In less than two weeks, a small volunteer team solidified the design, piloted and refined the construction process, and began producing the face shields in bulk. They reached output levels of 10,000 shields a day within just three days and were able to produce about 550,000 shields. The face shields were then donated to healthcare providers in need through the nonprofit Direct Relief. The use of excess material brought forward a new circular solution while amplifying 3M’s ability to support frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic."

Learnings

This sustainable solution was able to go to market quickly because it was enabled by:

  • Data and Analytics to help discover the excess waste
  • Digitalize Product Creation and Model-Based Enterprise to solidifying a design
  • Digitalize Factory that allows refining the construction process and the ability to scale in 3 days

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Originally published on September 3rd, 2020

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Topics: circular economy, ppe, sustainability shout outs, waste reduction

About the Author

Rein Singfield

Rein Singfield

Rein is recognized for delivering high quality, data-driven solutions to solve strategy and process issues across multiple industries with a focus on fast-moving consumer goods.
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