This is one aspect that manufacturing companies can look into to get more energy from the same raw materials as this will lead to a lesser need for energy and thereby, a more sustainable future for the companies.
Save time and effort
When many people think of implementing sustainability, they think of the bigger things, but not the simpler ones that can provide a good measure of savings in terms of environmental resources. One of the least thought of ways is saving time and effort. When a machine can complete the same process in a shorter period of time, it saves on energy without compromising on the quality of the end-product. This is more challenging than one may think, but its definitely worth the effort.
Examples of Implementation
An example of such a sustainable manufacturing initiative is taken by Ford to revamp their practices at the River Rouge Factory. The proponents had proposed to make changes to the plant that resembled a natural ecosystem. It consists of a 93,000 meter plant and the roof will be covered with 42,000 meter sq of sedums, succulents and other plants that will hold the rainfall. Such a roof not only acts as an insulation, but also provides efficient storage of water. Also, the waste water will drain into underground holding tanks where the particles will settle down at the bottom of the tank. The clear water will then be released to wetlands while the toxic materials will be absorbed by plants and other materials. In addition, the River Rouge area, a designated brownfield site will be treated by Clayton Rue (Brouwer, 2002). These sustainable environmental manufacturing steps will improve the quality of the people working and living in the surrounding areas as well as the entire environment.
Another example of sustainable manufacturing is the initiatives taken by VT industries. This company is based in Holstein, IA and is one of the largest manufacturers of doors in North America. It uses lean manufacturing techniques to reduce its time and also, its green initiatives makes it a model company for many others in the same line of business. The doors are manufactured using renewable and recyclable materials that are FSC-certified. Moreover, people using these doors can earn LEED credits and all the products are in compliance with the California Air Resources Board (CARB)'s formaldehyde regulations (Koenig, 2011).
Passing it on Companies using these sustainable manufacturing practices should also explore the ways and means to export it to third-world countries that do not have access to his knowledge. This will ensure that the world at large will be able to contribute to the sustainability of the planet. The exploding population has led to a surge in the need for manufacturing and its important that manufacturing plants around the world follow these sustainable practices.
A good example is the initiative taken by the Rochester Institute of Technology that partners with manufacturing companies in developing countries such as Dominican Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia and Peru to help them to adopt more environmental-friendly practices. They are working with universities in these countries to create materials, guidelines and mentor-ship programs that are valued at about $2.3 million (Nasr, 2011). These initiatives also help to improve the lives of the people involved as well as the environment surrounding these industries.
Sustainable manufacturing is an important part of our future as its helps businesses to generate the same quality of products with minimal or no impact on the environment. It reduces the dependence of companies on natural resources and more importantly, it reduces waste and pollution that harms the environment in a big way. Most companies today understand the importance of integrating the environment in their business processes and they have taken numerous steps towards sustainable manufacturing. It is expected that the future will see more of such initiatives for the benefit of the company as well as the environment at large.