When corporate America first started talking about lean manufacturing in the 1980s and 1990s, they were looking at ways to cut costs while maintaining customer satisfaction. These days, companies are also interested in portraying themselves as environmentally conscious, but are concerned about the costs associated with green initiatives.
According to two Missouri S&T researchers, manufacturers can be both lean and green by incorporating processes designed to conserve energy and minimize environmental impact with a lean manufacturing philosophy.
Elizabeth Cudney, PhD EMgt’06, and Katie Grantham Lough, AE’02, MS AE’03, PhD AE’05, discussed the benefits of meshing lean manufacturing with green initiatives during the Institute of Industrial Engineers’ 2008 Operational Excellence Conference and Expo held in Minneapolis in September. “Going green is a must for companies to stay in business,” says Cudney, an assistant professor of engineering management at Missouri S&T.
“While the stigma of green initiatives is that they are costly and uneconomical, that is simply no longer true.”
At the conference, Cudney and Grantham Lough, an assistant professor of interdisciplinary engineering, discussed how industries can link green initiatives to cost-saving manufacturing practices and calculate return on investment for alternative or renewable power systems.