Enhancing Sustainability in Manufacturing in America

The Sustainable Manufacturing Summit provides the opportunity to find out how top manufacturers and their customers are lowering their carbon emissions and…Fifty Sustainability Experts To Speak At Sustainable Manufacturing…
Jan 21, 2008… Sustainability experts are looking forward to sharing their carbon reduction strategies on April 8th and 9th at the upcoming Corporate…Green Manufacturing Expo 2009
Sustainable manufacturing, defined as the “creation of manufactured products that use processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural…Information and ProgressThe existence of information, conferences, books, tips, be it from the U.S. or Australia in the examples is an excellent first step in promoting the improvement of manufacturing based on sustainability principles. However, information alone is not sufficient to propel manufacturing concerns throughout the U.S. to begin adopting on a large scale more sustainability oriented manufacturing practices.One challenge to securing broader and more rapid adoption of sustainability oriented manufacturing processes is that there is no universal agreement as to what “sustainability” really means. Tremendous work has been done on creating very useful sustainability “scorecards” and measures, and this is very helpful. In an effort to give a simple, yet direct definition of sustainability in manufacturing, we offer the following definition.”Sustainable manufacturing processes deploy the optimal use of material and human resources for the long term to produce the desired product.”That is the official definition adopted by the Sustainable Business Group concerning manufacturing and sustainability. It is simple and direct and focuses on one key term: Optimal.When a manufacturing concern can shave one kilowatt or one cubic foot of natural gas use through energy conservation, without creating an inferior product or inferior work conditions, then it is not operating in a sustainable manner because it is not operating in an optimal manner. Even when it can use less energy in peak times, it becomes a more sustainable manufacturing enterprise since peak energy use is by far the most costly (in dollar and environmental terms) type of energy use that exists.If the employees of a manufacturing concern are not properly trained and educated by the company regarding how to conserve energy and materials use on their jobs, in their homes, their churches, and in their life-style choices, then these employees are not engaging in the highest level of sustainable activities since their actions are not optimal.These are easy words to write, but brutally hard to implement at the manufacturing plant level or across an entire globalized manufacturing concern. Where does a manufacturing concern start on the path or expand its already existing efforts toward becoming a more sustainable enterprise? This article begins in a very small way to address this question.10 Recommendations to Promote Sustainability by Manufacturing Concerns1. Make the optimal use of human and material resources in the production process, a key performance objective goal of the company with metrics to measure performance along this dimension. These metrics can be produced hourly, daily, or weekly and shared with employees, stockholders and customers. They should become a true source of pride in the company.
2. Create real incentives and rewards for everyone in the company to be more energy efficient, deploy human talent more effectively, reduce materials waste, reduce pollution and green house gas emissions, and promote the design and manufacture of the next generation of products that are more sustainable in the long run. Share in the savings being generated by implementation of a “gain sharing” type program to reward the employees and encourage creativity and savings.

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