SPECIAL FEATURE: GREEN MANUFACTURING
Two dominant trends in the industry, lean manufacturing and green manufacturing, are converging. While lean initiatives do not automatically translate to minimum environmental impact, the two notions do share some common goals. By scaling down waste in all capacities—not just physical—via lean principles, companies are often lightening their environmental impact by default.
Combining the mentalities of both lean and green manufacturing is the objective of the Lean to Green Sustainability Tech Group hosted by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (Dearborn, MI; www.sme.org/leantogreen). The organization has compiled a variety of reports, presentations, and numerous other resources to persuade manufacturers to implement sustainable processes and to guide them in how to do it.
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Espousing similar intentions, the Green Suppliers Network (www.greensuppliers.gov) is a multiorganization collaboration launched to help small to mid-sized manufacturers diminish their environmental impact without sacrificing profit. By joining the network and participating in the Lean and Clean Advantage program, suppliers undergo a technical review of their facility and receive training by the Green Suppliers Network.
The group then offers confidential recommendations to suppliers on how to modify their existing operations to optimize clean and lean practices.
OEMs, on the other hand, can team up with the Green Suppliers Network by becoming a Corporate Champion. This title is reserved for large manufacturers interested in helping suppliers achieve a lean and clean business. Corporate champions can nominate suppliers who could benefit from the program and even review their progress. As a result, OEMs can simultaneously enhance and green their supply chain. Moreover, Corporate Champions can enjoy the same benefits granted to their suppliers, including training and even receiving a technical review. Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories, and Baxter International Inc. are among the current Corporate Champions.