Lean: A catalyst for sustainable businesses — Guest appearance in Indianapolis

Lean: A catalyst for sustainable businesses — Guest appearance in Indianapolis

This Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2023, while we were enjoying little chocolates with our significant others, our Social media Chair and resident knows-a-lot-about-sustainability, Veronica Marquez, M.Sc., CSSBB, ASQ Member, President, Founder and Senior Consultant of Aristeio was sharing her knowledge and experience on Lean: A catalyst for sustainable businesses with participants at an event put on by the ASQ Indianapolis Section. Her presentation aimed at showing the synergy that exists between Lean management and realizing a sustainable organisation. Here are some notes on that presentation.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Recent unusual extreme weather events in our southern neighbour’s regions, probably peaked her audience’s curiosity to learn more on how “human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate”. Veronica, a believer that lean tools are in the forefront of solutions, proposed ways for participants to instigate the necessary changes in their organisation so that sustainability becomes part of their Lean path and evolution.

Her basis is from various European studies in 2019 which showed that ten countries produced more than 68% of global greenhouse gas emissions (!!). In that report, China was the largest, followed by the US, India, the European Union (27 countries counted as one), Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran and Canada. It also showed that for the US and Canada (in similar proportions but not quantities), the majority of the effects were from Electricity/Heat, Transportation, Building and Manufacturing/Construction. It was proposed that in 2016, globally, energy use represented 73,2% of the 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Having made that statement, it followed that there goals must be set and solutions found. The United Nations (UN) set 17 goals. Veronica proposes that Sustainability in Supply Chain management — the orchestration and continuous improvement of planning and execution of processes on strategic, tactical and operational level along a value chain end-to-end, operating within economic, environmental, and social thresholds — should be one of them.

The emissions throughout the supply chain may be identified and then reduced or eliminated by thinking in terms of Lean and Green processes — economic growth is combined with continued reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. This may be achieved by the use of effective demand management and efficiency measures, the efficient use of energy, water, and other natural resources, optimized inputs to production processes, and a decrease/elimination of the level of waste to landfill.

Lean   Green
  • Management System
  • Improve performance
  • Create value for the customer
  • True north
  • Efficiency
  • Waste reduction
  • People involvement
  • Cost reduction
  • Reducing hazardous emissions
  • Eliminating wasteful resources
  • Recycling
  • Minimizing health risks and environmental footprint during the whole life-cycle.

VSM Green CharacteristicsVisual Stream MappingBecause “linking Lean and Green is a real advantage as opposed to implementing two distinct approaches”, Veronica explained that of the various tools currently available to the professional (5S, ANDON, JIT, KANBAN, POKE-YOKE, SMED and TPM), shared examples of 5S and TPM could work to solve productivity and environmental issues as part of  a strategic vision for Lean and Green. In that regard, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed adding a “Green” layer perspective to the traditional Visual Stream Mapping (VSM) typically used in Lean to document every step in the process. This “Green” layer perspective could then be applied to environmental projects and help instigate the necessary changes in an organisation so that sustainability becomes part of their Lean path and evolution.

Veronica then proposed how to integrate the Lean-Green deployment as a strategic sustainability, the integration into the corporate bottom-line and discussed steps to overcome barriers. An interesting presentation indeed.

Some further ressources:

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