Friday, August 9, 2013

What's the Difference Between Lean Manufacturing and Green Manufacturing?

When Michigan-based seals and gasket maker FNGP enacted a lean manufacturing initiative in 1992, it slashed staff in one particular department from 21 to three, its square footage from 2,300 to 1,200, and upped production from 1,155 to 1,800 units a month. Productivity rose from 55 monthly units per employee to 600 units.

As evidenced by the Midwest manufacturer, lean policies are good for business. But in improving efficiencies, the company also shrunk its carbon footprint, notes an article recently published on The unintentional side-effect proves that the intersection of lean manufacturing and green initiatives are key to reducing waste.
Is Lean Manufacturing Green Manufacturing?
Is Lean Manufacturing
Green Manufacturing?

"The economic benefits are pretty obvious," Charles Cohon, a manufacturing executive, tells ThomasNet. "But if you look at the same numbers from the standpoint of what effect it would have on carbon footprint, you can see even greater benefits ... going from 2,300 square feet to 1,200 square feet, you've cut almost in half the amount of space you have to provide lights and heat to."

Bishop-Wisecarver Group is no stranger to the advantages of both lean and green. We're a certified Bay Area Green Business. In reaching for the distinction a few years ago, the company went through a process that included eliminating non-recyclable packaging and upgrading to Energy Star electronics, among other things. The certification had more than the effect of making the business of creating guided motion technology more sustainable, though: it was good for the bottom line.

"All the required changes were not just green but better for our business overall," Bishop-Wisecarver President Pamela Kan said back in 2010.

Our Vice President of Manufacturing, Aldo DeAmicis, reiterated Kan's point when he came aboard  in 2012. Lean manufacturing is about reducing and eliminating:

  • Overproduction
  • Defects
  • Unneeded movement
  • Unnecessary inventory
  • Wait times
  • Redundant processing and transportation
It's also, in a big way, about motivating workers to live up to their potential.

As ThomasNet points out, those priorities lend themselves well to improving sustainability by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, excessive water and power use and trash. It also keeps the people who work there safe and healthy.

We want to hear from you! Tell us in the comments about ways your company has implemented policies that qualify as both green and lean. [ CLICK HERE ] to check out the infographic we made about the symbiosis between lean and green manufacturing.