Lean and Green: Interchangeable terms to describe business improvement

Lean and Green are terms which are interchangeable in terms of many aspects of business.

  • Many manufacturers know the benefits of lean manufacturing: higher productivity, better quality, reduced cycle time, plus enhanced employee engagement.
  • Lean is excellent at marshalling different groups and individuals into a high performing team focused on rooting out waste.
  • Environmental waste is any unnecessary use of resources or a substance released into the air, water, or land that could harm human health or the environment.
  • Environmental wastes are often a sign of inefficient production, and they frequently indicate opportunities for saving cost and time.

Many Lean implementation efforts often overlook opportunities to prevent or reduce environmental wastes.

  • lean and greenWater: leaks, waste streams from processes
  • Air: evaporation of chemicals, dust, particulate
  • Solid Waste: filters, excess material scrap
  • Toxic/Hazardous Waste: solvents, process residuals
  • Energy: machinery on when not in use, heat loss, oversized motors

Green and Lean should be synergistic not just additive or complementary concepts.  Environmental benefits from Lean alone are often incidental where they are not a result of an environmental focus or concern.  The integrated whole of both methodologies is often greater than the sum of the impacts from each approach.

The tools in the toolkit for Lean and Green improvements are one in the same:

  • Value stream mapping
  • Workplace organisation
  • Spaghetti chart
  • Waste walk
  • Kaizen activities
  • Standardised checklists

These tools are used to visualise and identify the wastes in processes so that they can be reduced or eliminated.

While the pursuit of Lean and Green is not a destination but a journey it is clear that organisations that stretch themselves to build a culture around the values of Sustainability, Excellence, and Equity will ultimately have a big advantage those who do not.

For more information on how you can avail of Lean and Green programmes to improve your business, please contact us.

T:  +353 (0) 61 633644  E:  info@ecos.ie  W: www.ecos.ie

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