Sustainability is more about the cause than the color

One of the toughest decisions we had this month in putting together our cover story on sustainability was figuring out how much green to use on the cover. These are ponderous decisions involving several departments within our organization, and many people offered opinions. “Going green” conjures up all kinds of warm, eco-friendly, environmentally affirming images.


One of the toughest decisions we had this month in putting together our cover story on sustainability was figuring out how much green to use on the cover. These are ponderous decisions involving several departments within our organization, and many people offered opinions.

“Going green” conjures up all kinds of warm, eco-friendly, environmentally affirming images. “Green” is an easy concept to wrap your brain around. It doesn’t require much thought. We all sort of know what it means to be “green” in 2008.

Sustainability, though, isn’t about “green” in the better-known sense. If, as Kermit the Frog suggested (and I promise that this is the last “green” cliche I’ll use), it’s not easy being green, it’s downright tough to be sustainable.

Manufacturing sustainability is not about environmental responsibility, or about fiscal responsibility. It’s about both. It is a business choice as well as a social one. It is a decision not to sacrifice anything in the pursuit of a manufacturing facility that wastes nothing and preserves both the nature of profits and the profits of nature.

It’s a game-changer for many businesses today. In growing numbers, suppliers are finding their customers want someone who cares about the impact their products have throughout the supply chain %%MDASSML%% starting with production. It has become a fact of life that many customers will make that a purchase decision instead of price considerations.

Creating a sustainable manufacturing facility is a gamble, but it is one that major companies have already taken. They have delivered cost savings for their organizations and increased sales for their products by developing a culture of stainable manufacturing.

It is also a factor when manufacturers compete for the shrinking pool of skilled manufacturing talent. Young people evaluating an organization will gravitate toward sustainable manufacturers, becoming an employer of choice in what Plant Engineering’s Salary Survey demonstrated last month is a highly competitive hiring environment.

There are all kinds of good, warm fuzzy reasons to be “green” in today’s manufacturing environment. Few of them will get you much of a profit. The reasons to be sustainable today are measured in different kinds of colors. That’s why there’s a balance on the cover between gold and green.

But unless you commit yourself and your organization to sustainable manufacturing, the color scheme doesn’t matter. It’s about what you do to champion the cause of sustainability within your facility, right away.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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