One way in which today’s corporation is becoming enlightened to the fact that green manufacturing CAN equal more profitable manufacturing is through a new concept called “lean manufacturing“. In the 1980’s, JIT, or just-in-time techniques became all the rage in management circles as they shaved costs from production by eliminating the need for high levels of inventories by focusing on using just what was needed, when it was needed.
Lean manufacturing takes this one step further and focuses on the elimination of ALL wastes in the production process. This results in higher value to the customer, less raw materials waste, less wasted worker effort, and an overall greener AND more profitable company!
The shining example of this new way of thought is Toyota Motor Company – which arguably is the most successful automotive manufacturer on the planet today. These concepts were also drawn from the original work of Henry Ford, however, Mr. Ford didn’t anticipate the dynamic environment most companies face today. Much of the original work by Ford Motor Company worked well in a closed system, but not one in which things change as dramatically as they now can.
Lean manufacturing identifies wastes as coming from three sources; “muri” wastes which occur during the planning process and result in unnecessary process steps or work, “mura” wastes which are due to inconsistencies in the processes themselves, and “muda” wastes which occur during the actual production process itself.
Any waste creates inefficiency and erodes the sustainability of the enterprise – whether it be waste of human talent, effort, or the transportation of unnecessary materials.
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