Lean2Sustain Blog

The Way Forward.

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Rubber (Plastic) Roads

 

If you hear the words rubber roads a number of things come to mind. As a amateur racing driver, I think potentially more “grip”. There is a new phenomena taking place. The concept of recycled plastic containers and bottles being combed from our seas and waste dumps, to be converted and substituted for the bitumen that binds our road asphalt. India has been doing it since 2002, and the Netherlands is now actively pursuing it. We have also done some pilots in the UK. This is a brilliant example of recycling. Plastic materials have very long bio-degradation times, and it can take 450 years for a plastic bottle to fully degrade. Anything that can take plastic away from is a real is a real positive. Furthermore, by removing them from the sea and rivers we can further protect fragile marine life. Plastics have a high calorific value, and waste plastic has been considered as an alternative for fossil fuels, but of course this would increase COx. Re-utilising is also a powerful way to reduce landfill, and head to the UK goal of zero landfill by 2020. It also fits in with the framework of the new 6R sustainability system that goes beyond reduce, reuse, recycle to recover, redesign, and re-manufacture.

These are now being pioneered in the UK, and an enterprising company in Scotland has developed the plastic pellet blend that will bind the aggregate. The roads are are pothole free and more hard-wearing, which is solving 2 problems in one. Potholes are a massive issue on UK roads, and these plastic repairs are more robust. This is where Lean thinking is definitely helping sustainability. If you want to know more about this concept, and how we may be able to help you, please download the paper “Delivering Sustainable Value”  from our site. Please also contact us on change@lean2sustain.com if you wish to know more.

 

 

 

 

Alternative Transport

 

There is a lot in the press at the moment about sustainable transport , e-cars, hybrid cars, hydrogen trains, LNG powered super-tankers, but what about e-bikes. These are gradually gaining profile. Traditionally used for leisure in hilly areas and for people want the benefit of the outside but struggle with the undulating train, now these are perfect for the city or suburban dweller. An estimated 1.8 million Britons commute more than 3 hours to work in over crowded trains, cramped and stressed conditions. There are plenty of cyclists who commute in the cities, but have the chore of wearing cycling clothing and often in need of a shower on arrival.  As e-bikes can eliminate the strenuous bits, then the need for  specialist clothing and a shower can be alleviated.  Charging times are getting faster , and bikes can charging simply at work without the need for space consuming bays that cars require. For some this could be the perfect commute vehicle, and also recreational vehicle at the weekends.

 

 

First Hydrogen Train Tested

 

The first Hydrogen Train has been successfully tested in Germany. Another major step on the journey to “zero” emissions. Still a lot to be done to make these commercially viable, but we keep edging closer. Passenger trials are set to start in 2018. It is pleasing to see that fuel cell technology has not been abandoned, and with design development and “lean” thinking the trains will become even more effective /efficient.

Scorched Earth

 

The term “Scorched Earth” has been used widely as a military term for removing potentially useful things away from a withdrawing or advancing enemy in the field of battle. However, I would also like to use this as a metaphor for just destroying anything rapidly, without a great deal of thought. If we take stock of the new US administration and its view on environmental policy we could liken it to a scorched earth policy. There was a detailed report last week from the Carbon Trust, which detailed the rapid shift in US policy and its potential impact on the US and the world. The list of environmental reversals is endless, including allowing coal waste to be dumped into rivers, which is the opposite of the way the developed world is going. As an example, China is actively trying to reduce its dependency on coal by 2020. The UK has also launched its “zero landfill”  policy by 2020 Although the President has put himself under huge pressure to deliver on his election policies, he must think beyond the short term, and not turn the technological clock back. Investing in “Space” with greater budgets for NASA is a good thing, but the majority of sustainable innovation is either driven by a distinct need (famine or war) or adversity (lack of physical resources). As pressure grows on the worlds resources, we need to use what we have efficiently and wisely. The parallels between the environment and manufacturing are clear. Within industry, we have been using “Lean” thinking to eliminate process waste and improve efficiency. It is clear we need to do the same with the environment, and use long term thinking to sustain improved performance. Taking the short term decision, i.e. ignoring pollution will give no long term performance gains and arguably nothing tangible in the short term either, with the exception of possibly cash flow. Winding the technological and sustainability clock back, for even 3 or 4 years, will in reality turn it back by 20 years or more due to the lost opportunity and lack of momentum.

In short, and away from any political affiliations, a scorched earth type approach makes no business sense in the medium to long term, and will certainly not edify those who deploy it. It will not provide a winning position. Encouraging the world to think “Lean” is the only tangible way forward.  We need to get everyone to act as “Waste Hunters” and “Waste Destroyers”, not “Earth Destroyers”.

Sustaining & Saving

A fantastic announcement from the new owners of the Lochaber Smelter this week. They are going to produce automotive  components from a new manufacturing facility on the site. Initial planned investment is £120m, leading to an ultimate planned investment of £450m. This is an excellent example of how “business”, “lean” and “sustainability” can work in harmony. The smelting process, already harnesses the electrical power required from the the hydro-system, which is a renewable. Shortening the supply chain by having aluminium billets available for manufacture on site is classic “Lean” thinking. In addition to saving time, it will improve the environmental footprint, by reducing emissions related to transportation. I have been lucky enough to visit the site on a number of occasions, and the people were wonderful. A great and well deserved boost for the local economy.

Getting Traction

In order to get traction you need to engage the workforce. This can be achieved through awareness training, and creating a passion for change. It is essential to demonstrate quick results in order that the workforce can buy-in to the changes. A first step will be to identify the “Change Agents” who will generate the passion to achieve your goals. These individuals can help you with the scoping and planning for the programme.

The Importance of a Lean Mindset

Our team has a wealth of experience in consultancy and operations in general manufacturing and the chemical industry. We understand what it takes to turn ideas into results. Our unique knowledge and passion for change will help the key influencers in organisations drive towards sustainability by eliminating all types of “waste”. Visualising these wastes, and using the appropriate “Lean” tools, will allow you to understand the magnitude, and determine what to work on first, i.e. the area with the greatest initial impact or return on investment.

Hello world!

Welcome to our first L2S Blog Post from the collaborators. Please take time to read our Mission. We want to share our approach so that every company whether SME or corporate can move in the direction of “Sustainability” by using some practical tools and approaches. We will be sharing these, through a series of workshops around the UK and hopefully other countries as we gain momentum.


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