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The future is in our hands

How can we travel without irreparably damaging ecosystems? How can we produce without using up all available resources? How can we ensure prosperity without developing countries or our descendants having to pay a high price for it? Sustainability is one of the most important challenges – and it is time to face up to it.

Teresa Scheunert
29 Mart 2023
Okuma süresi: 3 dakika

Sustainability means acting responsibly and is an integral part of our lives. Many people equate sustainability with environmental protection, but it encompasses far more, namely ecology, economy and social issues. Ecological, societal and economic development are equally important and also of great importance for business and industry.

More than environmental protection

In a recent survey by the digital association Bitkom, almost half of German companies claim that they aim to be climate-neutral by 2030. A further 37 percent of the companies surveyed plan to take this step by 2040. Companies can reduce their risks using a sustainable business model, for example, by reacting at an early stage when feedstocks and materials become scarce. “Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to companies, and many customers are now also focusing more on sustainability performance when selecting their suppliers,” says Kerstin Heinrich, Head of Sustainability at KUKA. 

And if we look at the social aspect, increasing employer attractiveness, for example, helps ensure business success.” Attracting and retaining talent ensures future viability. And that is not all: Sustainability has meanwhile also become a key factor in making employers attractive. In a StepStone study, for example, 76 percent of the employees surveyed said that it was important to them that sustainability was given high priority in their company. This is an important reason for KUKA to show that we are already doing a great deal in terms of sustainability and that we aim to go on improving.


Energy-efficient KUKA robots and solutions help customers achieve their climate targets.

Thinking and acting responsibly

As an industrial company, KUKA wants to reduce its own environmental impact measurably – with specific environmental and energy targets. These include reducing energy  consumption and CO2 emissions and avoiding waste. At the Augsburg location alone, around 80 percent of hazardous waste was recycled in 2021. And the new Swisslog building in Dortmund bears the Gold Certificate of the German Sustainable Building Council, with LED lighting and a photovoltaic installation on the roof. However: KUKA needs to do better when it comes to water consumption, waste generation and energy consumption. There is still plenty of scope for improvement here.

Furthermore, KUKA is also working to make supply chains more transparent. Responsible procurement is one of the top sustainability issues identified by KUKA , along with employee development, responsible products and solutions, and climate protection – a huge challenge, globally and across all departments. 

Responsible products and solutions as well as employee development are among the top sustainability topics for KUKA.

Sustainability: A competitive advantage? 

There is also growing pressure on companies outside their own premises when it comes to sustainable performance. For a long time now, not only the purchase price, but increasingly also the operating costs of a product have been a decisive factor. Companies have recognized that environmental and social improvements bring economic benefits and that they are more successful in the long term with sustainable business models. New KUKA robots consume significantly less energy than previous generations. Against the backdrop of rising electricity and CO2 prices, this makes a big diff erence, especially in energy-intensive production areas, and provides customers with potential for savings.
Digital twins and real-time monitoring of robot fleets help make production more efficient. And automated shuttle systems, like those from Swisslog, increase storage density by up to 60 percent compared to manual systems. This offers enormous advantages, particularly in cold storage depots with high energy consumption. 

Energy-efficient KUKA products and solutions help customers achieve their climate targets. And there is ever greater focus on the transparent presentation of sustainable performance when it comes to awarding contracts. This can be a decisive competitive advantage. Climate protection, cost-effectiveness and business success thus go hand in hand.

Automation for hazardous e-waste: recycling robots in Ireland.

Future market: Sustainability

Companies that fail to address the issue will lose competitiveness – experts are certain of this. Long-term success can be achieved with sustainability, as shown by the example of the circular economy. Materials and products are shared, leased, repaired or recycled for as long as possible. This opens up new fields of application for robotics and automation, for example where toxic vapors or sharp-edged parts pose risks to humans.
The Irish technology company Votechnik, for example, has developed a system with a KUKA robot for dismantling old electronic consumer goods. And in e-mobility, too, experts are increasingly looking at automation concepts for recycling old battery systems. With ever more e-vehicles on the road, the need for recycling is also increasing – this could even result in the emergence of a new market segment for automation. 

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