'Green manufacturing' to be 'eco-friendly'
A "green" production process refers to an effort to lessen the impact
of the manufacturing process on the environment. In an environmentally
mindful society, consumers and businesses look for ways to promote
"green" business practices. This can include anything from a recycling
program for employees, energy efficient appliances, supplies, machinery
and other components, cautious resource use such as turning the lights
off when not in use, reusing supplies to eliminate waste and refined
manufacturing or production processes.
In fact, society, consumers can also support this notion by
purchasing only from businesses or products that support this global
effort. This sends a strong message to non-green companies that they
should join the cause and reform their practices.
Think about this. If a business is not showing a serious effort
towards green manufacturing process and energy efficient business
processes, they may find themselves losing potential customers. Why risk
Companies also feel pressure from their competitors that have already
joined in the green movement. After all, if the competitors can do it
and gain market advantage, then why can't they.
Companies that take proactive steps towards environmental
improvements in their production processes have a firm advantage over
business that are not doing the same.
In a way, these companies are setting new standards for the
production industry. They benefit on two levels, the first gaining a
greener public view of the company which encourages consumers to buy
environmentally friendly products.
The second is that adopting these new policies takes an initial
investment, but in the end frees up more time for a company to develop
additional methods for reducing waste, saving them both energy and money
in the long run.
Most of our media focus on the green production efforts of larger
corporations; however, many smaller businesses have established
ecologically aware practices also. Many of the companies that tailor to
goods or services for outdoor activities operate in environmentally
These types of companies tend to operate in geographical regions that
are supportive of environmental protection so they may be more concerned
to advertise their use of green production methods and philosophies.
Manufacturing plays a very strategic role in an organization,
especially to build competitive advantage and improve performance. With
rapid changes in technology, customer needs, globalization and
manufacturing itself is constantly transforming and evolving. In
beginning of the century, automobile industry introduce the a mass
production techniques which revolutionized manufacturing processes.
Over the years the need for meeting individualistic customer demands
without compromising productivity or quality, brought about the
introduction of flexible and mass customization techniques.
The focus is now on Green manufacturing. Recent volatility in the
price of fossil fuels and global awareness about the finite nature of
our resources is creating the need for a more sustainable way of how we
produce and use. Green manufacturing itself is not new. The concept has
been around for a couple of decades, but has never received much
attention from manufacturers except for participation in seminars and
scoring well in polls and surveys.
However recent trends show that with the heightened focus on climate
change, a transformation of mindset is happening and so positive action
is now finally imminent.
What is Green manufacturing?
There are many interpretations of green manufacturing and all convey
similar meaning. It is a system that integrates product and process
design issues with issues of manufacturing, planning and control in such
a manner as to identify, quantify, assess, and manage the flow of
environmental waste with the goal of reducing and ultimately minimizing
environmental impact while also trying to maximize resource efficiency.
Green Manufacturing is also known by plethora of different names:
Clean manufacturing, environmentally conscious manufacturing,
environmentally benign manufacturing, environmentally responsible
manufacturing and Sustainable manufacturing. Irrespective of the various
acronyms, the primary goal remains the same - designing and delivering
products that minimize negative effects on the environment through their
production, use, and disposal.
The fundamentals of green manufacturing are very simple and relate to
minimizing the use of resources and the environmental impact of a
product. This philosophy is extended to all the elements of its life
cycle - from its design to its end of life.
There are tremendous opportunities which will arise with Green
manufacturing. Each element of this cycle has the potential to be an
industry by itself, given the rapid growth rate and demand it is
expected to generate in the mid to long term.
Although it is very difficult to estimate the market size for green
manufacturing, industry experts feel this would be very significant in
the coming decade. As government, companies and consumers realize the
importance of going green the barriers for investment in these
technologies is expected to fall rapidly.
The drivers for green
There are many drivers which are expanding the boundaries for green
1. Competitiveness: The natural desire of manufacturing firms to
improve its processes and capabilities for competitive advantage. This
can manifest in terms of technology, new product and process development
as well as opportunities for business.
2. Corporate Social Responsibility: The growing pressure on
manufacturing firms to become more responsible to the social and
environmental impact it creates. Companies would like to brand
themselves with a "green" image.
3. Legislation: Manufacturing firms have to constantly strive to meet
current upcoming stricter environmental regulations.
Although the benefits look very obvious, there are many challenges to
go green. The most significant is the economic mindset and rationalities
of organizations. And it cannot be denied that go green will be at an
initial cost with potential savings coming much later. Another key
challenge is that most companies have not integrated the process of
continuous environmental management into the core of their business
strategy, either because it conflicts with their existing priorities or
simply because they are ignorant about how to do it.
Moreover companies do not have specific environmental performance
indicators or social performance metrics by which they are measured
Many firms today are engaged in some level of environmental
management, however such solutions may not in themselves promote
efficiency gains or improvements in productivity. This would further
reduce incentive for deploying green manufacturing company wide.
The way ahead
The change to green manufacturing will not happen overnight but with
over time. However we do expect a tipping point after which adoption
will be very rapid, when it moves beyond a continuous improvement
approach. Till today, firms have always operated on the concept of
producing quality and technology products at lowest cost to achieve
competitiveness. Manufacturing processes were designed to make products
faster and better on purely economic terms.
The leap into green manufacturing will follow with the fundamental
change in the way companies design, procure, manufacture, distribute,
dispose and recycle their products. It has now been proved beyond doubt
through increasing experience of companies implementing green
manufacturing practices that the payback periods of such investment is
generally 1 to 3 years.
But Industry by itself cannot bring about this change. Government has
to play a very important role of creating the right environment in which
adopters of green manufacturing do not lose competitive edge in the
(The writer is studying international transportation and logistics
management at the CINEC Maritime Campus at Malabe. The writer could be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)