Sustainable Manufacturing Plants Rock!

Posted by Gerry Poe

sustainable manufacturing plantsManufacturing Sustainability Rocks
As cities continue to grow, as new alternatives are being developed manufacturing companies are working hard to improve their waste management processes. In a recent study conducted in 2008, Canada earned awards for municipal waste generated per capita. It seems as though all that room we had to dump our waste is no longer available, and thankfully there are revolutionary companies literally saving the planet one ton of recycled material at a time.

Going Sustainable:

During the heyday of the technology boom throughout the 1990’s many companies experienced enormous success for a few years, however without creating a solid internal framework many of these companies did not survive. An exception to that business trend is Dell, which was able to address its problems associated with rapid growth, and build itself into a lasting profitable company. Dell was able to create this lasting profitability with three essential ingredients: 1. “Virtual Integration” 2. Real value customer service features 3. Tailoring Manufacturing to customer needs.

Big corporations and some of the world’s most popular brands have taken sustainability initiatives for their corporate fiscal responsibility. This is to not only lessen their carbon footprints but also to gather further support from the public for their products. These industries have worked hard to help in the fight against unsustainable practices, and they are now looking for the recognition they deserve.

As concern for sustainability grows and more and more people become aware of problems such as global changes, toxic substance usage and ever limited natural resources, international groups are encouraging organizations to apply 'sustainable' principles to their areas of work. As part of this drive towards corporate leaning, an increasing number of organizations are adopting the principles of sustainable supply chain management.

While the debate over the validity and potential causes of global warming environments continues to rage in various communities, the values of sustainable growth cannot be argued. The expansion and development of cities all over North America has led to problems dealing with the enormous mountains of waste generated on a weekly basis, both from residential and commercial sources. We are now beginning to see damage of past waste management decisions that often relied on landfills; waste burial systems. Such processes have contributed to environmental problems such as surface and groundwater pollution and numerous other forms of air, soil, and water contamination. Waste needs to be dealt with by creating improved systems.

Consider How ERP Software Improves Processes:

Sustainable Reclamation

At the forefront of sustainability change are companies like Sustainable Materials Management Companies (SMMC). Such entities are dedicated to the collection, processing and reclamation of discarded materials helping reduce and contain waste. It can be difficult to fully understand what this process entails and why such companies truly stand out against typical eco-waste management companies, but there are many reasons. Simply put, they offer a closed loop approach to the collection and removal of discarded materials from any given facility, commercial building or residential area. That’s just the beginning.

Enterprise Environmental Benefits

There are straightforward, low-cost things which every business can do to make a positive difference to their environment, what you decide to buy and whom you decide to buy from can make a difference. Making your supply chain as efficient as possible needn't be costly. Small steps - such as ensuring suppliers, when possible, use recycled or recyclable materials and their packaging is minimized and sustainable - having a significant impact if they're utilized by enough businesses.

  • Novo Nordisk hopes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from their global production by 10 percent on 2004 levels by 2014 through use of renewable energy and implementing energy efficiency measures. The company has also introduced a Take Action initiative, a program for tree-planting and car pools for employees.
  • Kodak’s photo facilities have also helped companies green through use of non-hazardous recyclable plastics. Additionally, Kodak uses thermal photo papers that have been sourced sustainable from forests. The photo company has stopped use of molded pulp insert and bubble
    wrap. Their dry laboratories are also using 70 to 90 percent less energy than conventional silver halide photo minilabs.
  • L’Oreal had reduced their energy consumption by at least 3.6 percent and water use by 6.9 percent last year, leading to a decrease in greenhouse gas production of 6.6 percent. The cosmetics company incorporated recycling in their system, avoiding the sending of waste to landfills and recycling 95 percent of their generated waste or reusing it to generate energy.

How, then, do your enterprise systems and policies fit into the picture of “green” management? Software and hardware systems perform a critical function in your company’s sustainable profile. Here are a few examples of what you can do:

  1. Create a “virtual” data center so your footprint of computer systems is reduced up to 60-75 percent. Virtualization consists of making one server chassis serve up to 15 server functions in a single “box”. Thereby reducing electrical power and heat, while creating a platform of efficiency and effectively saving more to the bottom line.
  2. Consider your enterprise software as the guiding light by which you can gauge those gains and see how better to utilize systems through functional alignment, seamless integration of function, process and financial results. Using your financial reporting and executive dashboards tro present histograms and past, present and future scenarios.
  3. Take into account employee travel, expenses, and think about mobility and broadband integration into your sustainability equation. Take one example; mobile workforce which enables employees to work from anywhere at anytime. This platform of operational integration sustains processes necessary for efficient workflows to be performed while saving on their costs. This may create, for your company, a savings on wages negotiated as a consideration of savings in non-reimbursable direct costs of the job.
  4. On a final note, make sure all of your enterprise systems are efficient by incorporating lean principles into operations and processes. Money is time and lean is about saving money by saving time.


Sustainability, as a culture shift, takes enterprises from wasteful to resourceful. Enabling companies to grow sustainably is the best form of savings with forward thinking. We have opportunities to be more profitable by using principles leaning our supply chain will reduce costs while improving growth measurable at the bottom line and felt across the globe.

For more information and if you would like some help we have a free self scoring Enterprise Self Assessment we hope you will avail your company to the opportunity.

Download the Checklist: The Complete Enterprise  (ERP) Self Assessment


Tags: Sustainability, Lean Manufacturing, Enterprise Sustainability

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