Saturday, March 9, 2013

Linking Lean Manufacturing and Climate Change

In his article, Rob Honey Cutt describes the existence of a spider web of networks made up of small factories supplying parts to each other forming a distribution chain of goods. These goods are delivered or moved from one factory to another with diesel trucks that emit great amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The factories are not located close to each other and the diesel trucks move through intensive traffick before they are able to reach their respective delivery points. Furthermore each of the factories are fueled by great amounts of dirty coal with continually smoking backup generators that are fired by coal. The finished products coming out of these factories are then transported by tracks to the port. They are loaded onto ships that run with bunking fuel that equally transmits harmful substances into the atmosphere which then transport the goods into different parts of the world. He adds that the different projects within this region are run by personnel who do not live in close proximity. They therefore have to continually make trips by air or sea to this region. He describes this to be a redundant supply chain process that is indeed wasteful and as a result harmful to the environment in terms of its contribution to climate change. At this point he introduces lean manufacturing, a concept incorporated into the Toyota system of manufacturing that reduces the timeline from the time a consumer makes an order to the time it is delivered by reducing thhe non value added wastes. In this case, eliminating transportation wastes would increase the efficiency of the system and reduce its effect on climate change. Looking further into this case with the scope of lean production systems, he proposes vertical integration, a process that would ensure that more levels of the supply chain are incorporated under one manufacturing company. This would reduce the number of movements of products from one factory to another thereby reducing the need to use transport wastefully. For example, an assembling plant would be absorbed by a production company that supplies the component parts of the product that is assembled. With vertical integration, you can also enusre that a whole process of production incorporates green energy because in this case, you are able to make decisions for one company or factory as opposed to trying to influence environmentally friendly processes to different producers. These different producers may not be willing to incorporate environmentally friendly solutions because of the costs that are perceived with making such changes and it is therefore difficult to control methods of production across the board within the supply chain process. In addition, he recommends that it would be important to locate the various delivery points in close proximity with each other to eliminate harmful carbon dioxide production through transport. An important aspect of the lean manufacturing process is to empower the workers to make decisions that would increase the efficiency of the supply chain. Climate change is a critical issue that is increasingly afffecting the global village. it's efects are felt all over the world in the form of global warming and irregular climate patterns. It is therefore inevitable that each individual will need to participate in decision making that will contribute to the mitigation of climate change. It is therefore important for management to lead by example in the decisions that they make on the supply chain processes and how environmentally friendly they are, as well as train their members of staff on the importance of lean manufacturing. What decisions would you make to control climate change within the supply chain process? Is lean manufacturing one of the feasible solutions to climate change?? Lean Manufacturing: Addressing Climate Change Through Reductions In Waste by Rob Honeycutt 4 January 2013 Class Lecture, by Tim Zak Introduction to Supply Chain Management and Systems (94-810) Spring 2013

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