Industry Market Trends

Is Lean Manufacturing Green Manufacturing?

April 15, 2013

Can lean manufacturing, as exemplified by the renowned Toyota Production System, be a path to greener manufacturing? It would make sense, as both concepts can involve stripping out the waste from operations. A leaner operation will likely consume less energy and fewer resources, resulting in lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and less waste to the landfill. A lower carbon footprint can be an “unexpected windfall” of lean manufacturing, according to a presentation in March at ABB Automation & Power World 2013 by Charles Cohon, CEO of Prime Devices Corp. of Glenview, Ill. "Consider the waste of over-production," Cohon urged in his speech, quoting legendary Toyota engineer Taiichi Ohno, "It is not an exaggeration to say that in a low-growth period such waste is a crime against society more than a business loss." Reading about Cohon's presentation and knowing something about lean thinking, I thought it was an important insight that lean can also be green. In a number of ways, stripping out inefficiencies should also be able to help a company reduce its environmental impacts. So I reached out to Cohon to find out more about the thinking behind his presentation at the ABB event. Read More