Lean2Sustain Blog

The Way Forward.

-- A Unique Collaboration --

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.


Lean2Sustain logo