Friday, April 5, 2013

Green Manufacturing: From Trend to Cornerstone


If you’re a manufacturer in Michigan, you’ve probably heard the phrase “going green.” Going green used to be a trendy thing for celebrities to talk about, but this is more than a trend for the manufacturing community. By implementing more environmentally sustainable practices and green manufacturing initiatives, Michigan’s manufacturers can:

  • Improve their brand and appeal to more customers
  • Better manage energy costs
  • Reuse materials to reduce waste and save costs
  • Improve processes and efficiencies during production

Green manufacturing is no longer simply a “nice thing to do” – it’s becoming an increasingly important business strategy for the manufacturing community. Customers and suppliers now consider how “green” a company is when making a purchasing decision. It could be the deciding factor between your product and a competitors in an increasingly competitive market for green products.

Many manufacturers once equated “going green” with “more expensive.” Now, they are realizing that there are simple, yet effective ways to go green with their existing products and practices. I mean, if you’re a manufacturer, why pass on the opportunity to reduce waste, preserve energy and make everything more efficient? Let’s be real – energy, water and labor costs aren’t going down anytime soon. The reuse, renew, recycle aspects of green manufacturing initiatives help businesses control these expenses. Often, the realized improvements are annual savings rather than one-time cost-reductions.

While those efficiencies improve and costs shrink, manufacturers can also sleep better at night knowing that their operation is reducing emissions and its 
carbon footprint. This is a key driving point for a manufacturer’s marketing team. Marketers can promote their green practices to attract new customers and enhance their branding image. Furthermore, a company’s staff becomes engaged during green initiatives – employees are educated on critical factors such as increasing efficiencies. This fosters a culture of continuous improvement.

Sustainability can energize innovation as well. Challenged to reduce product packaging materials by a %, recycling more waste, such as micro filtering to extend the life of fluids used during manufacturing processes, or modifying those same processes to reduce material scrap, your engineering and machinists could surprise you with their ideas for improvements, cost savings, and reducing defects.

Overall, making the effort to convert to green practices is worthwhile for any manufacturer in Michigan. It improves your public relations efforts and has tremendous potential to reduce waste and harmful emissions.

According to the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association International, Ford, General Motors and Freightliner are all making sizable investments in equipment to reduce energy usage and waste:
  • Ford Motor Company uses solar panels to generate approximately 500 kilowatts of electricity at its plant in Wayne, Michigan.
  • General Motors facilities are working toward landfill-free status, meaning that more than 95 percent of waste is reused or recycled. Its goal is to achieve 100 landfill-free manufacturing and 25 non-manufacturing sites by 2020. As of most recently published data, GM’s totals were 84 and 16 respectively, with on average, 97% of waste recycled or reused and 3% converted to energy.
  • Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation now dumps zero solid waste into any landfill with the use of reusable packaging, product redesigns and by identifying recipients of solid waste for reuse.
If you are interested in transitioning your company to green operations, MMTC can help. Our experts can help your company be more efficient, environmentally safe and more sustainable. For more information, contact us at 888-414-6682 or via email at inquiry@mmtc.org .  

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