Industry and the Drive to Net Zero | A Blog by Business Butler

Industry and the Drive to Net Zero

Never was there a greater responsibility for every business to maximise its efforts to drive to net zero.  Correct machine maintenance and Lean CI processes, once just the domain of the manufacturing industries are now proving to be a force multiplier across all business in the drive to net zero. At Project 7 Consultancy we have seen Total Productive Maintenance, and Lean Manufacturing processes reduce waste and carbon footprint in projects from construction to food production, from building and operating aircraft, to automotive and vaccine production, to rail operation and ship building. 

Irrespective of the industry, the drive to net zero is accelerated as business drives out waste in all its forms. In ‘Lean’ we see waste in the following 8 areas:

1. Waiting time

Machines running whilst waiting for product are either burning fuel such as on a construction site or consuming electricity such as on a production line. On top of this the company is paying people to do nothing which leads to frustration and unwanted turnover.  It is essential to have raw material ready when its required and Lean tools will show how to reduce waiting by ensuring suppliers deliver Just in Time for your product, and ensure each stage of your process is optimised and will produce first class quality right first time every time.

2. Over Production

Manufacturing product just to keep a machine running with no customers to purchase the finished product is wasteful of energy and resources, let alone a very poor business model. Lean tools will help you anticipate customer orders and manufacture Just in Time (JIT). Tools such as level loading, and Coefficient of Variance (COV) reduce waste and thus your carbon footprint.

A paper converting plant was overrunning each order to avoid costly and lengthy changeovers. By working with them on SMED and workflow optimization the team was able to reduce a changeover from 93 minutes to just 19 minutes. This with COV enabled targeted production, reduced waste and reduced inventory. Over production also causes machines to wear out faster which then requires unnecessary cost of maintenance and parts and impacts your Total Productive Maintenance program and outage planning.

3. Re-work

Re-work, re-building, re-engineering, re-surfacing, re-wiring in fact ‘re’ anything burns energy by extending task duration. A Lean process ensures the product gets to the customer, be that internal or external, at the rate and condition expected, right first time, every time. Short interval control and KATA coaching be that in building a road or maintaining a train engine drives out waste and so reduces the carbon footprint.

4. Movement

Having people move around a production area be that a building site, manufacturing work cell or an aircraft hangar to collect parts and materials is wasteful of effort and time. Wasting time means the lights are burning longer, the fork lift trucks are wearing our faster, fuel is being used unnecessarily. Reducing movement with models such as Kanban reduces your carbon footprint. 

5. Over Processing

Over processing is a sign of a poorly designed process. Poor leadership, poor instructions, unnecessary administration, poor communications, all these cause over processing. Over processing may also be the result of poor machine design, inadequate maintenance, inadequate job station tooling or facility layout. Design for Maintainability, Design for Reliability and Autonomous Maintenance are all tools that reduce over processing. 

Value Stream Analysis (VSM), is a primary tool for eliminating waste by firstly enabling an organization to completely understand its current process (often for the first time) and then reengineers the process to drive out waste, optimise production and power up the drive to net zero. In a paper plant VSM improved processing time so that weekend working was no longer necessary. A plant where the light and heating are off, quickly reduces its environmental footprint. 

6. Too Much Inventory

The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) estimates that warehousing in the UK accounts for 420 million sq ft of property. It is a significant part of the UK's building stock and therefore has a considerable carbon footprint. The energy used to heat and light these vast areas is contributing tens of extra tonnes of carbon on single sites. 

It is continually amazing to me how many companies still manage huge warehouses of product, that they then call ‘Work in Progress’ WIP, whilst that product has no immediate customers. In one plant the leadership solution to overspill of ‘WIP’ was to rent more warehouse space, increasing the carbon footprint even further, rather than solving the problem. Adding more space is not the solution, true Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing is the solution. Solve the problem, not the symptom.

One project used 6 Sigma DMAIC problem solving because the company could not find its manufactured goods in their multiple warehouses. This project reduced the footprint by organising the product by customer and SKU so extra product was no longer being manufactured to replace product that could not be found. This meant that warehouse space was reduced. This also meant truck loading time was reduced from an average of 2 ½ hours to an average of 43 minutes as product was now easy to find. As a further bonus, air-conditioned trucks were now running for less than half the previous loading time. Driving to Lean also helped the drive to net zero. 

7. Not Using Your People’s Intellect

Your people are your best soldiers in the fight to achieve net zero. By giving them a culture where they can contribute to continuous improvement such as Preventative Maintenance Optimization, Work Place Organization, and Kaizen Tieon, and through nurturing corporate citizenship and building High-Performance Teams, people become the powerhouse of change to reduce waste in all areas and driving the reduction to net zero. When teams then share what they have learnt with others, (Yokoten) they also encourage others in the drive to net zero.

8. Transportation

Transportation is often seen as the bad boy of carbon and the drive to take dirty fuel of the streets is now getting some traction with electric vehicles. However large fuel hungry vehicles will still be needed for some time, but their considered use can reduce carbon footprint. Far too often, for example in work we have done in the paper industry, we see half empty trucks leaving the depot. Better planning with level loading, workplace organization and integrated IT processes can ensure trucks are full or travel shorter distances before they fill up to reduce cost and carbon. We have also seen how VSM in how orders are processed and how and when loads are planned have considerably reduced cost and carbon. As a by-product, the search for an ever-reducing pool of qualified drivers becomes that bit easier so when full loads are ready to go, there is also a driver available to move that load.

So, we can see that at every turn Total Productive Maintenance and Lean Continuous Improvement processes, drive out waste. This ensures your people and processes are optimised to drive out waste saves money improves productivity, and every effort helps in the drive to carbon zero. 

To find out more or to receive expert advice get in touch with Dr Anthony Kenneson-Adams by clicking here.

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