Sustainable manufacturing, recycling, repurposing, reducing your global footprint, going green. All of these phrases have become more and more widely used in the last 20-30 years. At first they were just phrases; ideas that were maybe a little ‘out there’ but now increasingly manufacturing companies are implementing business processes and philosophies to bring the phrases to reality. And why? It turns out sustainable manufacturing is profitable.
‘Sustainable manufacturing’ includes the manufacturing of ‘sustainable’ products and the sustainable manufacturing of all products. It’s the environmental responsibility of manufacturing companies to begin to keep this phrase in mind. It caught my attention because the idea is not only should we manufacture sustainable products, but the way we manufacture them should leave a small footprint. I like the idea of only using the resources you need and reusing them if possible.
I’m excited to see the Department of Commerce (1) and the United Nations (2) taking an interest in sustainability. Their buy-in will help promote the ideals of sustainability. However, I know there are a lot of manufacturers who implemented grass roots sustainable manufacturing business processes a long time ago because they knew eventually they would be more profitable. And profitability is still the bottom line.
A 2008 sustainable manufacturing study by Atos Origin reported, ‘These companies have set up initiatives to apply business intelligence to operational data that reveals areas where raw materials can be saved and energy conserved, which delivers immediate business impact through lower costs while, at the same time, reducing the company’s environmental impact.’ By doing the ‘green’ thing, they are also more profitable than before.
There have recently been two examples of sustainable manufacturing in the media with regard to products. The first one was a dog toy that just went on the market. It’s a virtually indestructible ball made completely of scrap material. The other product was a salad spinner (generally made of regrind) that’s also used in third world countries to identify anemia. I know, you are feeling the love with these products; they fulfill needs, they are sustainable, repurposed and bring profitability to the companies who manufacture them along with an environmental pat on the back!
When I read about those two products it was easy to come up with an example for the manufacturing side of the sustainability initiative; a new product recently released to beta customers by IQMS. It’s RealTime Process Monitoring and it gathers machine performance and process data in real time. Users define which performance and measurement parameters to capture for each item or project. When limits are met or exceeded users can quickly identify necessary adjustments to the machine or device allowing for maximum efficiency while utilizing the least amount of resources, for example water and heat, and still manufacture a quality product.
Companies can begin to implement sustainable manufacturing with the goal of profitability and not just due to the pressure they receive to be ‘environmentally correct’. It’s a mindset that takes very little time to acquire and the benefits will be long lasting.
I’m proud to be part of IQMS who is a part of the chain in sustainable manufacturing. As a company they are very involved in the ‘green’ initiative. IQMS recycles many of the resources it uses. From recycling just about everything, to hosting an electronics recycling event, to reusing obsolete CD’s and DVD’s on a parade float. It didn’t take long for IQMS to realize going ‘green’ doesn’t take a lot of effort, just a change of habits and how we view and reuse resources.
1.“Sustainable manufacturing is defined as the creation of manufactured products that use processes that are non-polluting, conserve energy and natural resources, and are economically sound and safe for employees, communities, and consumers.”
2. Sustainable manufacturing “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”