Green manufacturing: Production can be environmentally friendly and cost-effective

Many manufacturers have hesitated to adopt green initiatives out of fear that it would raise production costs. Nabil Nasr, director of the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology, is among the experts who say that fear can be alleviated by injecting the right technology into the manufacturing process.

03/29/2008


For Harry Brix, director of procurement at Syosset, N.Y.-based Paradigm Group , a supplier of janitorial and sanitary products, green manufacturing is “very chic”, but he wonders if will ever be more than a passing fad. Brix says green strategies emerged in the 1970s, but interest waned, only to surface again in the‘90s, and wane again.


Many believe this time the green manufacturing movement is here to stay—namely Nabil Nasr, Ph.D., director of the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology.


“There is very serious interest from industry surrounding green manufacturing,” says Nasr. “We are starting to see the shift in philosophy, acceptance, and emphasis.”


But an interest in green manufacturing doesn’t necessarily translate into a commitment to making the necessary changes, as documented in a recent survey of manufacturers conducted by U.K.-based Lanner Group , a business process analysis organization. The survey found only 9 percent of respondents prioritized reduction of their carbon footprint in 2007. When asked why, 72 percent of the respondents said they had other priorities to address first, 15 percent said the process is too costly, and 8 percent said they didn’t know how to do it.


Such a mind-set disturbs Nasr. “There is a belief among some manufacturers that green manufacturing costs money,” he says, “so they wait until they have extra money to cover the expenses. This is absolutely wrong!” In fact, says Nasr, with proper training in information technology and usage, manufacturers can identify tremendous opportunities without incurring any costs. “These initiatives offer competitive market advantages,” he says.


Ralph Bianculli, president and CEO of Paradigm Group, agrees. “Historically, one problem with green products is they’re quite a bit more expensive than traditional products, so it was difficult to create a market for them,” he recalls. More recently, though, manufacturers that have invested money in greener production processes have been able to cut the cost of their green products.


One strategy, says Bianculli, is retooling near the end of the manufacturing line. “This allows recapturing some of the product and recycling some of its content,” he explains.


Nasr sees other ways in which technology can aid the transition to green manufacturing. “It’s necessary to take a system wide view,” he explains.

“Green manufacturing cuts across every aspect of manufacturing, including information decisions, process technologies, energy consumption, material selection, and material flow. A lot of the decisions manufacturers make are related to cost, function, and quality. Now they are adding another dimension, which is sustainability.”


There are a number of technologies that can prove useful, Nasr adds, and they vary across industries. Some sectors are interested in technologies that eliminate lead, and those that recover material from the product during processing. In the automotive industry, the focus is on technology that can reduce emissions, as well as finding replacement materials that improve conservation efforts.


According to Lanner Group, another useful tool is simulation technology. In fact, 90 percent of Lanner’s survey respondents say if its potential is maximized, simulation technology can facilitate greener manufacturing.

Simulation has application in new plant design/layout, capital equipment evaluation/justification, new process design, resource planning, and material delivery logistics. “Using simulation to improve business processes is as close to guaranteeing an outcome as is possible,” states David Jones, CEO of Lanner. “It can provide visibility and clarity, and eliminate unforeseen costs that are common in new projects. Effective use of simulation
technology can map processes so that environmental initiatives can be aligned with cost savings.”





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.