According to Google, 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. Sustainable manufacturing can save you money by:
• Lowering utility bills
• Reducing scrap costs
• Cutting waste hauling bills
• Minimizing downtime
• Decreasing operational costs
The three biggest areas for utility savings include:
1. Lighting: Switching to LED or other energy-saving lighting systems could save you a lot of
green. Don’t overlook ways to maximize natural lighting by using skylights.
2. Compressed air: One company I know saved more than $90,000 a year just by eliminating
fugitive air leaks.
3. Water: I’m amazed at how many companies use water for non-contact cooling and still “pump
and dump.” Using a closed recirculating system can lead to major savings.
Recycling, reusing and reducing materials can greatly decrease the number of dumpster charges. Sometimes, it can even generate much needed income. For example, I witnessed a company that was able to transfer the cost of having pallets hauled away into a revenue stream—simply by refurbishing their pallets and selling them. Think out of the box (dumpster) on this one.
There are two types of scrap: manufacturing scrap and quality scrap. Using sustainable manufacturing practices can reduce both of these. I’ve observed how one resourceful company cut its manufacturing scrap (offal) by 80%—just by finding ways to better stamp out their product.
A lot of people often overlook Total Product Maintenance (TPM) as a sustainable manufacturing practice. According to Google, TPM is a system of maintaining and improving the integrity of production and quality systems through the machines, equipment, processes and employees that add business value to an organization. It can drastically decrease the amount of unplanned downtime.
Unfortunately, we can’t produce our products for free. So, the next best thing is to produce products at the lowest cost that quality and delivery can accommodate. The whole premise of sustainable manufacturing is to make products with minimal resources and the lowest environmental impact.
Resources have associated costs. As we shrink our resources being used, the costs will be lowered. Everything mentioned above will not only drive down costs, but also lower our environmental footprint. Sustainable manufacturing = reduced costs = increased profits. The equation is simple. The math works. Let sustainable manufacturing work for you!
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Quality and Environmental Services Program Manager
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.