Green Manufacturing Processes and How to Improve Them
Most manufacturers understandably focus on essential business systems like Kanban, Six Sigma and lean manufacturing. However, green manufacturing processes will also lower costs and increase revenues. Here are three major benefits of implementing green manufacturing into your business.
Reduce Energy Costs
Energy and water bills are very high for most manufacturing companies. A large portion of these expenses are actually caused by long periods of equipment standby and downtime. Strategic production planning and tighter schedules will reduce waste. Regular equipment inspections help through identifying problems, such as air compressor leaks. Changing product processing and packing can also save time and costs. Consider switching to energy-efficient lights and upgrading equipment to energy-saving models. There are many government reimbursements available for companies that buy efficient machinery and install solar or wind energy equipment. Manufacturers must also research how to sell production waste. For example, lumber manufacturing facilities often sell bark and sawdust.
A green maintenance approach proactively evaluates the impact of machine failures on both employee performance and environmental conditions. The goal is to monitor equipment functioning and implement preventive maintenance actions. For example, dynamometers are used to monitor heavy equipment testing systems. Some companies, like Power Test Inc., have dynamometers that test electric engines. Performing such tests makes production easier to manage. Sustainable maintenance will accurately predict when energy consumption levels peak and when material degradation threatens the environment. As a result, maintenance managers can effectively mitigating risks and avoid operational repair costs. One of the best ways to implement an eco-friendly preventative maintenance program is through regular equipment maintenance check sheets that are performed by operators and turned into maintenance.
Designing for Sustainability
When new manufacturing systems are proposed, life cycle cost analyses should be performed during the conceptual design stage to evaluate the best engineering solutions that offer the highest levels of reliability and maintainability. This will help key decision makers identify potential financial gains or losses from poor operational and maintenance practices. During the planning stage, management can evaluate and compare the maintenance needs and energy consumption levels of proposed equipment.
Management can thus select higher efficiency motors, alternative fuels or more eco-friendly energy sources. An additional benefit of sustainability planning during the life cycle cost analysis is that it will be easier to smaller, energy-efficient alternatives and avoid oversized equipment. Complex production systems will most likely require an outside consultant to perform an environmental impact and risk analysis.
Sustainable businesses practices will control costs and curb environmental impacts through efficient asset and maintenance management. Keep in mind that these benefits and improvements are often realized as annual savings instead of quick, short-term savings.