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Local Creation: how micro-factories will pave the way for a more sustainable global supply chain

It’s time for supply chain management to move beyond spreadsheets

By Ben Perry, CEO of SA Systems

By Ben Perry, CEO of SA Systems

By Ben Perry, CEO of SA Systems

In the age of Amazon Prime, ASOS Premier, Deliveroo and Uber, consumers have come to expect to have everything they want instantly, regardless of where the items are manufactured or the distance they need to travel.

To ensure products reach consumers in every corner of the world in the shortest possible period of time, businesses have been relying on a global supply chain that is built on large production centres and massive delivery networks.

While this mass scale production and long-distance delivery model manages to provide consumers with the level of convenience and speed they demand, it creates knock-on effects, such as stock waste, packaging waste and delivery mileage, all of which have damaging consequences for the environment.

Local creation presents a new way for stuff to be created and delivered to consumers;a way that’s better for the environment, better for communities and better for individuals. Imagine a micro-factory in your local bank, pharmacy or even phone store – creating products tailor made for you, as you need them.

By creating what we need locally and on demand, we can eradicate stock waste, packaging waste and delivery mileage, while still providing consumers with the level of speed and convenience they want.With technology developments in automation, 3-D printing and recyclable materials, these micro-factories are no longer just a fantasy.

Consider a single payment card – while it might not seem menacing at first, this tiny piece of plastic carries a sizable carbon footprint. 6.4 billion Cards are issued around the world, with less than 0.1% being recycled. The plastic they’re traditionally made from takes up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. And millions  -printed bank cards stockpiled in warehouses will end up being discarded after their expiry dates. And for those cards that are delivered to consumers, they’ll encounter several modes of transport on the way to their final destination, and that’s without mentioning the packaging it requires on its journey.

There are a multitude of benefits to producing the stuff we need locally. Imagine you lost your bank card and instead of having to wait at least five working days for a new one to be delivered to you, you could just nip into your local bank branch or high street and get a new one, printed in front of you in just 90 seconds. This is local creation in action, empowering local communities to take control of what they need when they need it, in a much more sustainable way.

We think payment cards are just the beginning. This style of manufacturing could revolutionise the way people get access to prescriptions, essential household goods and more.Local creation will benefit individuals, communities and businesses by providing immediacy and sustainability in tandem. It has the capacity to massively decrease the carbon footprint manufacturing currently creates while enabling local communities to access necessities on their own terms.

The technology to make this a reality exists, it’s not a distant aspiration. We’re doing it right now with cards but the possibilities for this technology in the future are endless.

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