Resilience and efficient Sustainability

The challenges posed by advancing climate change make it necessary for companies to improve and rethink their production and overall economic activities from the perspective of sustainability. In addition, resilience is increasingly becoming the focus of attention, not only with regard to the consequences of climate change, but also to crises in general.

Managing crises using resilience

The term »resilience« originally comes from psychology and in this context refers to a person’s psychological resilience, i.e. primarily their ability to deal with difficult life situations and crises. However, systems and organizations can also be resilient – an aspect that has gained considerable importance in recent times. Resilience also means being able to respond to changing environmental conditions by constantly adapting and thus coping with them. Particularly in times of crisis, resilience makes an important contribution to dealing with change. Not least the effects of the Corona virus have shown companies that they need to become more adaptable and flexible in order to keep up with crises at the cutting edge.

To build and leverage resilience, companies can take action before, during and after a crisis. Particularly when preparing for crises, they often have to weigh up protection against efficiency, as resilience initially requires additional costs and resources. Examples of this would be keeping protective equipment on hand or equipping employees with the technical infrastructure for any time they may need to spend in their home offices. Companies must therefore weigh up how much protection makes sense and is necessary. Another key factor in preparing for crises is to define clearly defined and flexible processes to enable a rapid and coordinated response in the event of an emergency. Following a crisis situation, lessons learned should be recorded in order to learn from mistakes and continuously improve resilience in the spirit of »failing forward«.

The topics addressed by the S-TEC Centers contain numerous starting points for strengthening a company’s resilience. For example, the concept of biointelligence envisages basing production as far as possible on locally available resources. The Corona crisis has shown how quickly problems can arise when global supply chains are disrupted. In the medium term, supply chain structures need to be rethought, not only to strengthen resilience in times of crisis, but also with a view to the environmental impact caused, for example, by transporting goods. The biointelligence approach is also relevant to increasing resilience because companies can take advantage of researching and adapting biological principles of self-healing.

Sustainability – central challenge for companies and production

It is necessary for companies to position themselves more resiliently due to the already noticeable effects of climate change. At the same time, however, they must also rethink existing processes, procedures and production methods in order to minimize the negative environmental impact of production, for example by reducing CO2 emissions and minimizing the use of resources.

Impulses for how production processes and procedures can be made more sustainable are offered, for example, by the biointelligence approach. The idea of integrating biological materials and structures into industrial processes represents a promising approach to reducing the negative impact of production on the environment, for example through waste streams or resource consumption. The target picture of biointelligence includes, among other things, implementing production mainly using locally available resources and completely avoiding environmentally harmful waste.

Producing without waste is also an aspect of ultraefficiency. The aim of this approach is to make production loss-free and to minimize its negative impact on the environment. The focus of a holistic approach is therefore no longer just on manufacturing processes and methods, but also on the production environment. This means, for example, striving for a complete recycling economy, avoiding emissions and using renewable energies as exclusively as possible.

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