Although it has taken many years of pollution and global warming to capture awareness in a way that truly reflects the urgency of the situation, it now finally seems that most manufacturing companies recognize the degree to which they are responsible for environmental problems and the need for action to reduce environmental damage.
Manufacturers are beginning to recognize the trend of going green is important in an era of environmental responsibility. Unlike lean manufacturing, which focuses on ways to improve operations and cut wastes from the customer’s perspective, green initiatives look at ways to eliminate waste from the environment’s perspective.
Looking at operations from a “green” perspective benefits not only the environment, but everyone in the supply chain from manufacturers to customers.
Ralph Keller, president of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) says “Going green is profitable. It is really about preserving resources and companies pay money for resources. If you can consume fewer resources through implementing lean and green initiatives, it becomes profitable for the company because you’re saving money.”
Earth Day is an event celebrated every year on April 22. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 193 countries every year. One billion people across the world get involved with Earth Day. Let’s take a look at the initiatives manufacturing companies have taken to minimize the environmental impact through the conservation of energy and reduction in pollution, while saving the company and customers money.
The automotive giant Ford has committed to green vehicle technologies, which results in improved fuel economy for customers and reduced CO2 emissions. According to Guinness World Records, Ford’s Dearborn truck plant has the world’s largest living roof. The 10.4 acre living roof is part of Ford’s redevelopment of the Ford Rouge Center, which includes a number of progressive environmental initiatives. The roof is composed of a drought-resistant perennial groundcover called sedum which is planted into a specially layered bed. Virtually maintenance-free, it can absorb up to 4 million gallons of rainwater annually and is part of a broader storm-water management system installed at the Rouge. In addition to absorbing rainwater and carbon dioxide, the sedum roof produces oxygen and provides natural overhead insulation for the final assembly building, thereby reducing energy costs. It is expected to last twice as long as a traditionally constructed roof.
Emirates Steel has made efforts to minimize the environmental impact of its industrial activities in different stages of its operations process. In its commitment to adopt the latest innovations in energy efficiency and sustainable practices, the company addresses issues on sustainability at the early stages of any expansion project. During the design process itself, the company develops a life cycle economic model that examines environmental and cost implications of process choice and the new technology to be adopted.
Along similar lines, Tata Power’s inception nine decades ago revolved around the unique saga of the founder Sir Dorabji Tata’s vision to provide clean energy to the city of Mumbai in India with minimal impact to the environment. In a quest to deliver clean energy, the company is focusing on building a robust renewable energy portfolio, scouting for clean sources of power, reducing its carbon footprint and investing in cleaner technologies and global resources. Towards ensuring a greener and sustainable planet, Tata Power has started a unique concept called Greenolution, which is a fusion of two concepts: “Green” and “Evolution”. It signifies the process and initiatives that the company would undertake to ensure a greener planet and sustainable future.
Furthermore, manufacturing companies are adopting a paperless manufacturing strategy which offers the potential to improve operational excellence through higher quality, greater responsiveness to change, and less waste.
As more companies come to realize the importance, and financial benefits, of environmental sustainability and green supply chain practices, the day is not far away when we will be able to achieve what we set out for—a greener planet.