Lean and sustainable manufacturing: How the two are connected

Podcast series highlights the ways in which lean manufacturing initiatives can also be used to improve sustainable production practices, as both are focused on reducing or eliminating waste.


Bosch Rexroth, a global provider of drive and control technologies, has begun offering advice on how basic lean principles can be used as a means for reaching sustainable manufacturing goals.
Developed with recognized lean manufacturing expert Jamie Flinchbaugh, Rexroth’s “Lean and Sustainability” online content discusses the relationship between lean manufacturing and sustainable manufacturing. The challenge centers on how to effectively use lean as a tool to drive sustainability in manufacturing operations.
Flinchbaugh, who is co-founder of the Lean Learning Center and co-author of the popular book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean,” emphasizes that manufacturers can experience double benefits by implementing lean principles that also have a positive effect on the environment. Doing both as not as difficult as it may sound, considering that waste reduction lies at the heart of both lean and environmental improvements.
For example, when implementing lean, consider these tips to also help reduce environmental impact:

  • Manufacturers can eliminate much of the damage done to the environment by going after the waste in a given manufacturing process. This way, the waste no longer affects the environment, and also improves the company’s bottom line.

  • Check for air leaks such as split hoses, punctured bladders, leaking connections, etc. Leaks cause the plant to run less efficiently, costing more to maintain and keeping compressors working harder to deliver air pressure while also wasting electricity in the process.

  • Reduce the inventory needed to cover up waste. This will also reduce the need for driving forklifts to move the inventory, reducing the use of propane or electricity.

  • Utilize materials more effectively. A more efficient use of materials will deliver the same value, at less or equal cost, and with less impact on energy and resource demand.

Further, more specific details are accessible in the “Lean and Sustainability” podcast, which is episode number ten in Rexroth’s lean manufacturing podcast series, available for listening or free download from Bosch Rexroth’s site by clicking here . The podcast series is also available from the iTunes podcast library and other podcast directories on the Web.
Developed by Bosch Rexroth’s Linear Motion and Assembly Technologies group, each eight- to ten-minute lean manufacturing podcast episode presents guest experts and information to help manufacturers and OEMs understand and apply lean principles and practices in their businesses.
See also this Control Engineering article on Lean Manufacturing:

And visit the Sustainable Engineering Channel
– Edited by David Greenfield , editorial director

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