It would pretty hard pressed to find someone in the manufacturing industry that had not heard of or worked in a Lean environment. Lean methods have been on the rise for the last two decades across many industries. If you asked someone what they’ve heard or seen as a result of Lean, chances are they will tell you about increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved customer response times and an overall improvement in productivity. Slowly but surly though, another benefit to Lean is making its presence known. “Green” has become quite the trendy word over the last decade, but it takes more than talk to make something “green.” Lean initiatives however, are putting the talk aside and showing the manufacturing world what it really means to be “green.”
Lean and Green
When the foundation of your processes is to eliminate waste, use fewer resources and streamlining your product, it’s hard not to think “Green.” Why it’s not a bigger focal point in most Lean initiatives is beyond me, but I think times are changing. A study by the EPA examined nine different companies and the direct effect Lean had on their Green impact.
|Apollo Hardwood Company|
|Baxter Healthcare Corporation|
|Boeing Company (Everett)|
|Columbia Paint and Coatings|
|DuBois-Johnson Dieversey and Steelcase|
|General Electric (Peebles, Ohio jet engine facility)|
|General Motors (Saturn)|
The results from these case studies is outstanding for anyone considering or already a part of a Lean culture. The potential “green” impact Lean has is astonishing when you start to actually keep track. Many organizations don’t consider the financial impact of a “green” workplace when they are factoring in their Lean initiatives, therefore they don’t keep track of what Lean can do for “green.” Future Lean implementers must start to recognize and track the importance of sustainability within their continuous improvement process. The more data we have, the more information we have to make continual improvements to the system.
Clearly, Lean processes have the ability to produce substantial “green” benefits when they are kept track of. For many reasons, the environmental performance gains should be quantified into the financial justification of Lean initiatives. They are yet another major benefit to Lean benefits that continue to pile up.
Source for case studies: http://www.decisionsciences.org/