“Lean is Green”- Five Reasons to Commit to Sustainability in a Volatile Economy
During uncertain times, businesses will be tempted to shift their attention to budget cuts and other cost-saving steps with sustainability programs likely being among the casualties. On the other hand, forward-thinking companies who embrace sustainability as a part of mainstream product development realize that sustainability is, among other things, a path to a competitive advantage. Here are five reasons to aggressively pursue sustainability in a shaky economy.
Lean is Green
While lean manufacturing has been a focus for companies for many years, it was during the global recession of 2008 that lean design began to come into focus as well. Lean design focuses on optimizing every stage, from ideation, prototyping, materials selection, and packaging to distribution logistics. With lean principles in place, adding sustainability to the mainstream mix does not require changes to existing technologies or processes. Rather sustainability is simply a natural extension of the lean manufacturing ethos as robust software tools are seamlessly integrated with minimal disruption. These tools allow engineers to more fully leverage lean design for complete optimization of product/package designs. Armed with the right tools and better information, product/package designers are able to explore a wider number of design alternatives optimizing everything from aesthetics, materials, and transport through the end of useful life of the product. Lean design allows engineers to identify and solve problems before they occur. Simply put lean design centers around using less of everything: less material, less weighting, reduce the number of different materials, fewer steps in the manufacturing process, designing for less waste or reusing manufacturing waste. The results are shorter development cycles, and improvements across the board to cost, quality, aesthetics, performance manufacturability; and ultimately profitability.