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How to use sustainable manufacturing practices

manufacturing_systems.jpgSustainable or "green" manufacturing practices have gone from being a trend, to being a mainstay in most types of businesses. Manufacturers are finding that if they want long term staying power in the marketplace, then they must begin using sustainable practices throughout their manufacturing. It is important to note that not only are businesses, of every type and size, finding that "going green" saves them money, and improves their bottom line, they are addressing the concerns of a more educated consumer, who is looking for products that are sustainable, right from the point of design, to the point of purchase. Manufacturers who are taking the time and making the effort, to address the sustainability concerns of their target market, are finding themselves with a distinct advantage over their competition. Here is what you need to know about how to use sustainable manufacturing practices.

Sustainable manufacturing practices are just as important as using sustainable materials. Both are factors in the production of any eco-friendly product. However, while most sustainable practices focus on the materials end, it leaves many wondering what exactly is a sustainable practice?The bottom line is that any manufacturing process should also be a responsible process. When manufacturers are using sustainable manufacturing they are making sure that every aspect of what they make is responsible and will not harm either the environment or their potential customer, in any way.Here are some sustainable practices-

  • Sustainable Design-It all begins at the point of design. Any sustainable manufacturing process will begin at the very first starting point: design. The product should be designed in such a way that makes it efficient, user friendly, durable, and easily recycled. When the product has sustainable design it can then be easily supported by a more sustainable manufacturing process.

  • Alternative Energy Use in Manufacture-In order to be truly sustainable the manufacturing process must employ a renewable energy source. Manufacturers of every type and size are turning to solar, wind, and biodegradable fuels in their manufacturing process.

  • Resource Efficiency in Manufacture-This is perhaps the most important part of sustainable manufacturing. In order to conserve natural resources, the manufacturing process should be efficient, in its use of energy, water, and materials. When energy efficiency is factored into operations it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing production at the same time. There are numerous waste reduction programs (Six Sigma, TQM etc.), that will help the manufacture decrease waste, improve efficiency and help the entire manufacturing process become more sustainable.

  • Non Exploitative Labor-Any sustainable product is designed or manufactured by people, who benefit from their work, and their labor is not exploited. Manufacturers must understand the importance of the human factor in the manufacturing process. Paying fair wages, scheduling employees on humane schedules and making the workplace safer, are all a part of making a sustainable product. In addition, manufacturers must take steps to make sure any work that is outsourced, follows the same Human Resources guidelines that are practiced within the site of origin.

  • Making It Come Full Circle-In order for a product to be truly sustainable, there should be some way to recycle the product, at the end of its lifecycle. The product should be developed, with a view to recycling the material that has already been used, so that new, quality products e created without using new materials. In addition the manufacturer should focus on making sure any packaging that is used along the production process, from raw material to finished product, can be recycled or reused. Finally, making sure the shipping of the finished product is done in the most efficient way, is the final step in sustainable manufacturing practices.

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