Engineered for sustainability

The topic of sustainability is quickly becoming a reality for manufacturers of all types. A majority of you are implementing sustainability initiatives for reasons related to your own operations as well as because of partner and customer requests and requirements, according to a Control Engineering subscriber study conducted this summer.


The topic of sustainability is quickly becoming a reality for manufacturers of all types. A majority of you are implementing sustainability initiatives for reasons related to your own operations as well as because of partner and customer requests and requirements, according to a Control Engineering subscriber study conducted this summer.

So why is this suddenly becoming such an overwhelmingly important issue? It’s not about being “green.” It’s about good engineering practice. At its core, sustainability is not about where you stand on climate change; it’s about where you stand on efficiency. It’s about looking at everything you do from an engineering perspective and asking if it is architected as efficiently as possible. Even with energy prices currently on the retreat, the issue is not whether sustainability is worth the effort; it’s about whether you are OK with throwing away, say, $50,000 or $500,000 a year on energy costs—all depending on the fluctuation of prices and the size of your business. Regardless of the size of your company or the amount you pay for energy, can you really afford to be wasting any of it while working to stay competitive?

The answer is obvious, and that’s why Control Engineering is launching its coverage of Sustainable Engineering with a special supplement in this issue, inserted after page 56 . We focus and define sustainability on four core engineering issues: energy management, raw materials management, regulatory compliance, and product safety. Each of these topics is addressed in the supplement, as is a summary of the results gathered from our subscriber survey. Our coverage of sustainability will continue in 2009 with monthly feature articles addressing the four core issues. We’re also launching a monthly newsletter in December and holding quarterly Webcasts.

Our goal with this coverage is to help explain the bottom line benefits of sustainable engineering and create an ongoing dialogue with you about the topic and the role you play in it. The best news about sustainability becoming such a critical issue is that engineers exist at the core of its success or failure—because it’s all about efficiency, and that’s where engineers are trained to excel. Therefore, engineers will be relied upon for implementation, and increasingly looked upon to lead the way and help direct the future of the manufacturing business operation.

We look to be your primary source of information, direction, and ideas as you continue (or embark upon) your journey into sustainable engineering. Your stories and opinions on this issue are always welcome. Let me know what you’re thinking.

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