7 Steps to Building a Successful Sustainable Manufacturing Operation

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People, Planet, Profit. The intersection of these three concepts is the core driving force behind sustainable manufacturing. So, just what is sustainable manufacturing and how can you make it work for your company? Broadly speaking, sustainable manufacturing is the creation of products through the use of economically responsible processes that minimize negative impact on the environment. These processes not only protect employees and consumers, their efficiency also increases profits.

Becoming a sustainable manufacturing operation is a journey and there are degrees of difficulty in that journey. Think of it like a video game. Each step towards sustainability is the equivalent of leveling up the in the sustainable manufacturing game. For instance, you might begin the process by making simple improvements in previously established practices. When you’re ready, you can take it a step further by optimizing the production process for better efficiency and workflow. And if you’re really committed, you might even go as far as drawing up new product designs altogether that produce minimal environmental impacts all the way through the product’s life cycle.

No matter how far you delve into sustainable manufacturing, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to transition from one step to another successfully. Here’s how you can accomplish that:

  • Get Informed: Familiarizing yourself with the concepts and terminology associated with sustainable manufacturing will get you moving in the right direction. Taking time to learn the basics is a great way to get your feet wet and figure out whether further steps are necessary to achieve your sustainability goals.
  • Consider Your Foundation: Successful implementation of sustainable manufacturing simply cannot be done without setting a solid foundation. The foundation on which you build your sustainable manufacturing operation will support your future efforts and progress as well as help you establish a baseline for how work should be done.
  • Understand Your Values: Every company has different values. Yours may be to show how much you care about the health of the community, to increase energy efficiency, or to create safer working conditions for employees. Whatever your company’s values may be, exploring and developing them will help you gain a better understanding of how sustainable manufacturing can help you reach your goals.
  • Communicate Openly: Once you’ve decided to start on a path toward sustainability, your next step will be to communicate your ideas and intentions to company employees and stakeholders. Explain to them why the company is pursuing sustainable manufacturing and how it might prove to be a beneficial endeavor. The better they understand the value of this new and exciting change, the easier it’ll be to move everyone toward a common goal.
  • white-board-593300_640Set Performance Goals: Speaking of goals, you’ll also find that establishing and articulating production or performance goals will help shape your understanding of how sustainable manufacturing makes sense for business. Ultimately, goal-setting helps you gauge progress and adherence to sustainable standards.  
  • Develop Your Staff: If you’re set on implementing sustainable manufacturing processes throughout your company, then investing in quality training is a necessity. Not only will training ensure that everyone is on the same page, but it will also make the transition from traditional manufacturing to sustainable manufacturing that much easier.
  • Establish Management Systems: Without proper management, your sustainable manufacturing efforts are bound to fail. You want an operation that works smoothly from the top down, so be sure to establish management systems that effectively eliminate any kinks in the manufacturing chain. Doing so will boost efficiency, productivity, and profits.

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