A Lean & Clean Approach to Manufacturing

Posted by Marketing Support on Feb 27, 2012 10:30:42 AM

Reducing costs associated with your waste stream

Excited about lean manufacturing methodologies, an engineer forms an internal team to map the value stream of her company’s key product line or processes, revealing cost and time saving opportunities.  Feeding on the enthusiasm of her team, recommendations are made to management about the path to move forward. 

Management encourages the engineer to focus on eliminating traditional wastes such as time spent waiting, inventory, and excess material or component transportation. Meanwhile, some obvious environmental wastes are ignored, and along with them, the opportunities for significant savings.

“Lean & Clean” is an emerging concept in continuous improvement that balances the efficiencies of a company’s processes with development of sustainable operating practices.  Plant managers and upper management tell IMEC they need to reduce costs associated with their waste streams.  They are challenged by:

• Inability to identify less expensive, non-landfill options for waste
• Stringent regulations for alternative waste solutions
• Their inability to separate waste streams
• Material waste caused by ineffective processes

When embarking on a lean continuous improvement, a company will almost always indirectly eliminate green-related wastes.  For example, by reducing inventory, a company will inherently save on materials  Or, when reducing batch sizes per a standard lean recommendation, material wastes may also be reduced because extra materials are no longer needed during changeover. 

However, combining Lean with a Green component, with specific waste elimination metrics, will ensure that continuous improvement programs do not ignore environmental wastes such as excess electricity, discarded materials, overuse of water, etc.   Also, making green a part of continuous improvement and lean is needed to ensure that it is not thought of as some separate program or "flavor of the day." Creating green improvements will result in improved efficiencies and significant savings and will enhance a company’s sustainability program. This ensures that the company’s machine resources, people resources, capital resources and environmental resources are utilized as effectively as possible, with minimal impact on the earth.

Beyond the environmental benefits, the consequences of not dealing with these wastes include increased disposal costs, regulatory paperwork and fines, and increased costs assigned to waste materials.

A Lean & Clean approach will give manufacturers the ability to:

• Identify recycling and reuse options.
• Improve the quality of the waste stream so it can be reused internally or by another manufacturer as input.
• Develop efficient systems that will enable reuse or recycling waste.
• Aid in product design that can minimize the use of materials, resulting in less waste.

If you’re company is not a running lean and clean and you wish to reduce costs associated with your waste stream, please call IMEC at 888-806-4632 for a free assessment.

Marketing Support

Written by Marketing Support

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