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Manufacturing a safer planet: Go green with your production


This guide outlines strategies and tactics for green production in your business, starting with an audit.

Despite many claiming that we live in a post-industrial age, the manufacturing sector is still the global economy’s biggest sector, and the one that has the most influence on our trading position with other countries. It’s worth remembering just how big the manufacturing sector is because it’s also the sector that wreaks the most havoc on the environment.

When you’ve got an industry that big wasting so much energy and causing so much pollution, it should really give you pause for thought. And if you’re running a manufacturing business yourself, then you should give serious consideration to the practices in effect at your factory and move to green production.

You should be thinking about this because of the health of our planet in the future, for sure. But if that’s not enough to convince you about green production, then it’s probably worth pointing out that it’s simply good for business in general.

Green production for a safer planet

So we’re going to take a look at some of the things you should be looking into when it comes to green production and improving your factory’s impact on the environment.

Getting an energy audit

It’s pretty difficult to resolve problems if you don’t know where those problems are! The best way to find out where the most energy is being wasted in your manufacturing process is to get a professional energy audit. This is a green production review of your entire process. It will highlight the problem areas in your factory, both in the form of ‘leaks’ that need repairing and practices you need to either start or stop. It’s the best way to get started with a greener factory.

The offshoring problem in green production

The things that take place outside your factory also make a big difference to the effect you’re bringing to the environment. Consider the fact that a huge number of manufacturing companies are offshoring their processes. The factory that is used in the other country may not have very stringent green production environmental standards. Once the project is finished there, it needs to be transported via airplane or ship. Reshoring these activities can help the environment as well as save you money. Let’s say you’re offshoring injection molding. You can figure out the benefits of reshoring using an injection molding cost calculator.

Tackling inefficiency for green production

There should be a strong correlation between the amount of energy you use in your process and the output you actually get. If you’ve got equipment running all day and you know that your process is only producing about 80% of its capacity in that time, then you’ve got a serious green production problem with efficiency. This is resulting in a lot of waste. You need to ensure your equipment is being maintained regularly. You also need to make sure your staff are properly trained so that they can be as productive as possible.

Is solar power feasible?

We’re still waiting for the verdict on Tesla’s Gigafactory, but the projections suggest that clean-energy factories are going to be feasible. It’s certainly something you should look into for certain parts of your green production process, but the fact remains that the ‘conversion’ green advocates are waiting for is still way too expensive and time-consuming a process at the moment. Keep your ears to the ground about any updates regarding clean energy factories.

Green production strategies: summary

To start green production, the company must first carry out a pre-assessment of its entire operation, analyzing all activities performed by the company, studying in which industrial plants or production process the P+L can be applied. Afterwards, a flowchart is prepared identifying the stages of application of the program.

After the pre-assessment phase, the next step is the training and awareness of the company’s employees on the fundamentals of cleaner production. At this stage, it is important to explain to employees the phases that the company will go through to apply the technique, which industrial plants will be modified, products, etc.

In a third moment, the company’s environmental and process diagnosis must be prepared, this step is the basis of cleaner production, since the company must analyze its real relationship with the environment, examining:

1. Its main raw materials and inputs, and how they harm the environment;
2. The production volume;
3. What are the sources of water supply of the factory or company and the destination given to it;
4. Equipment used in production;
5. production fuel consumption;
6. energy consumption.
7. Location of storage of inputs and raw materials;
8. Compliance with environmental legislation;
9. Treatment and disposal of solid waste generated;
10. Existence of liquid effluents and their destination and treatment;
11.The existence of atmospheric emissions and the control used;
12. The costs generated by controlling all other steps.

After the diagnosis, together with the flowchart prepared in the pre-assessment phase, an environmental, economic and technological assessment of the entire production, from raw material input to output, should be carried out, evaluating how to make more environmentally efficient production process, focusing on the reasons why waste is emitted and how this can be minimized.

Economically, the assessment must be how to contain the costs generated by the treatment of affluents, solid waste and atmospheric emissions. With an understanding of the costs of environmental management and how its production pollutes the environment, the company studies the technological level adopted by it, and how it can look for new techniques that reduce costs and risks.

With the information gathered, the next step is to identify the opportunities, or problems, found, and where to apply the cleaner production methodology to solve what was diagnosed. At this stage, it is essential to pay attention to the most critical points of production, those that are less efficient and generate more waste.

Finally, it is necessary to prioritize the prevention of waste generation, and for this the organization will change the raw material, replace its technologies, and apply housekeeping techniques. Eventually, if necessary, you can cancel the production of any product that presents significant environmental problems, replacing it with a more sustainable line.

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