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Steps for green manufacturing

Green manufacturing is fast emerging as a strategic business imperative. As recent headlines involving quality issues make clear, companies that manufacture green products, using green methods are staking a bigger and bigger claim in the marketplace. Manufacturers that want to get ahead of the curve and stay there need to begin thinking green now, and develop an approach to sourcing and supply chain management that factors this new reality into their plans. It sounds like a daunting task, yet by having a plan and following some simple steps, organizations can jumpstart their efforts and get on the path to success. Here are some steps for green manufacturing-

  • Know where you stand-Experts advise that understanding your organization's spend, supply chain and consumption patterns, is naturally the first step because you can't affect what you can't see. Whether this is a detailed carbon footprint study, or an assessment of your organization's "green" status, you must know how your supply chain is positioned.
  • Make sure that you have a plan-When you have a clear idea of where you stand, then you can create a set of goals, and metrics, that can be used to track progress. When this is done correctly there can be several initiatives that result from the identification of a broader goal.
  • Make sure there is a single point of accountability-Many manufacturing companies have appointed chief sustainability officers, whose main job is to oversee their green efforts. The applicability of this specific position will depend on your organization and industry, but the key is to have a single point of accountability, that is empowered to effect change.
  • Make your progress known, both internally and externally-It is important to realize that half of the battle,is getting the word out,and getting people on-board. You will want to be sure to communicate to all levels,why green efforts are being undertaken; what will be measured, and how the company is going to get there.
  • Don't overlook incorporating "green" into your existing sourcing and procurement processes-In order to really "green" your manufacturing you must remember that sourcing and procurement, are more then just price. Factoring green priorities into your existing processes,is a natural extension of the non-price process, and a highly effective way to drive green goals. Manufacturers need to be as detailed as possible, which means they should explicitly disallow harmful chemicals in any of their supplies. It is also important to keep in mind that language needs to specify approved, and preferred materials, such as long-lasting or rechargeable and recyclable.
  • Clearly communicate your goals and standards,to your supplier community-You can easily and quickly improve your sustainability commitment,by setting clear expectations of your supply base,during the sourcing process. You also should be proactively monitoring compliance/progress. Clearly outline what suppliers will be expected to provide and how they will be measured, in order to ensure that they are delivering and putting in place, the processes and procedures,to drive compliance.
  • Make it a priority to keep up with new materials, technologies and processes-There is significant work that is being done to develop new approaches,that can cost effectively address the challenges,and opportunities, that green initiatives present. You should make the effort to stay up-to-date in your industry, participate in industry groups, do whatever it takes to maintain your competitive advantage,and not be left behind.
  • Remember that you can start with the "easy stuff"-You should realize that you don't need to overhaul your supply chain,to see gains from sustainability efforts. Instead, you can identify "quick wins" such as simple improvements in energy efficiency that can both deliver bottom line results, and move your green initiative along.
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