Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dimensions and Metrics of Green Manufacturing

We will discuss this topic in two sections - first, dimensions and then metrics. They are linked, as we will see, but best described sequentially.

The dimensions of design, manufacturing and environment can be represented as follows (and see the figure.) Think of three axes defining a volume (a cube, one axis along each principle face.) Along one axis (x) we express manufacturing throughput (quality, yield, production rate, lead time, flexibility, "lean-ness, etc.), from low to high; Along the second axis (say the y axis) we show design related attributes (functionality, complexity, life, maintainability); and the third axis (say z) represents environmental impacts (including energy, consumables, waste, hazards, end of life, etc.) from low to high. In this volume space we can plot "cost" as a function of these three axes (meaning ... the particulars of the elements of each axis will drive the cost up or down, or, in some cases, have no effect.) Our challenge is to find the "sweet spot" in this domain where we maximize production (and all its features - specially quality), minimize environmental impact, and optimize design - all at the same time. This is not easy but is our goal.

We measure our success or failure in this space using measures of performance - for example amount of waste, materials used and resources consumed (recall the Interface Carpet example?), energy consumed in production (primary and secondary) often expressed as specific energy or energy per unit of volume/mass or product, and the production rate (inverse of production time per piece, feature, etc.). Increasing process yield is a green option of course but, as we discussed some blogs ago, is usually done in the normal course of continuous improvement. But, if motivated by reduction in use of some resource, certainly supports green manufacturing.

My friend from Cambridge University in the UK, Professor Julian Allwood, outlines five options for sustainable manufacturing which I have adapted towards "greening manufacturing":

  • Use less material and energy
  • Substitute input materials: non-toxic for toxic, renewable for non-renewable
  • Reduce unwanted outputs: cleaner production, industrial symbiosis
  • Convert outputs to inputs: recycling and all its variants
  • Changed structures of ownership and production: product service systems and supply chain structure

(see http://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/sustainability/seminar/documents/050216lo.pdf)

These are solid elements that, if pursued, can lead to a greener process, system, facility, enterprise. But, the question arises - how much "less material"? or "less energy". Or, how much substitution is needed? How much do I need to change my distribution or supply chain? Basically, how do I know how much is enough to really make a positive change?

To answer these questions we need metrics.

I define a metric as a type of "measurement used to gauge some quantifiable component" of performance, such as a return on investment (ROI) for a company's revenues, etc. These metrics are used by engineers and designers for accumulating and analyzing information and data to enable better decision making, including trade-offs among several alternatives. According to SearchCRM.com Definitions (a source I googled when defining 'metrics') these types of "systematic approaches ... can be employed to transform an organization's mission statement and business strategy into specific and quantifiable goals, and to monitor the organization's performance in terms of achieving those goals."

(see http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid11_gci940481,00.html accessed 8/24/09).

For green manufacturing these metrics could include:

  • Global warming gases emission (CO2, methane CH4, N2O, CFC’s)

- per capita

- per GDP

- per area/nation

  • Recyclability (or percent recycled)
  • Reuse of materials
  • Energy consumption
  • Pollution (air, water, land)
  • Ecological footprint - “fair share” - footprint (discussed in an earlier blog)
  • Exergy (available energy) or other thermodynamic measures

And, these can be represented in terms of a "return on investment" - for example, greenhouse gas return on investment (GROI). Other forms of return measure include:

  • Energy payback time
  • Water (or materials, consumables) payback time
  • Carbon footprint
  • Efficiency improvement (for example, wrt exergy)

For green manufacturing these need to be linked to traditional design and manufacturing parameters. And they need to be assessed over all three scopes of ISO 14064 (1- direct emissions from on-site or company owned assets, 2- indirect emissions created on behalf of the company from energy generation or supply, 3- all others resulting from your business operation including business travel, shipping of goods, resource extraction and product disposal).

Some examples of how these links are set up and the application of these metrics will follow.

Reminder: "Why Green Manufacturing?" Join my webinar on September 17th - go to

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/187277227 to register.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Green Manufacturing News Items

I am preparing my class material for the graduate course on "Sustainable Manufacturing" I teach this fall (http://www.me.berkeley.edu/e290c/). The course attempts to do much of what this blog is aimed at - defining the key terms, understanding motivations, introducing metrics, tools and analytical techniques to assist manufacturing engineers in developing the processes and systems to implement green (at least) and eventual sustainable manufacturing. We also talk about "communicating" this information to our customers and shareholders.

I like to read a variety of information sources. And, when something is interesting or catches my eye, I present it to my class or, in this case, to the readers of the blog as constructive information. I'll do this from time to time.

As a preamble to my "selection criteria" for these articles and books, I try to make sure I am not distracted by idealistic arguments, unrealistic proposals, unfounded bias or political jingoism. I've found, after 30 years of teaching, that if you present material based on any of that the students (undergrads more aggressively than grads) will catch on early and pull at the loose threads on my cheap suit of logic until I am standing there with sleeves dangling and cloth around me on the floor. No respect for my long resume or vast experience! So, please feel to tug away if you sense some "dangling threads."

Here are a couple of recent finds in the "why green manufacturing is important" category.

The McKinsey Quarterly article "Profiting from the carbon economy" (http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Financial_Services/Banking/Profiting_from_the_low_carbon_economy_2412?gp=1) accessed August 17, 2009 discusses the opportunities presented by the carbon economy. They predict a "massive shift of industrial and financial resources. To cut emissions of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide), consumers, companies, industries, and even entire countries will have to abandon current forms of carbon-based consumption and switch to new, less-polluting alternatives. New industries will be forged, going far beyond the nascent companies we see today. New financial products and markets will be necessary to manage and transfer the risks and costs of carbon emissions. Investors and regulators will demand better information about the economic impact of climate change." Later in the article it states "Many parts of the world have begun to ask the businesses to bear the costs of the carbon emissions they create."

And the EU is moving rapidly on this. They've agreed to increase the range of industries covered by their emissions trading schemes (called ETS) and to enforce a minimum of a 21% reduction of carbon emissions (relative to 2005 levels) by 2020.

One of these days we'll look at what that really means in terms of changes to basic manufacturing and material conversion - it is not putting more insulation on the furnace or turning the lights out when we leave the shop floor! We're talking substantial changes in the way manufacturing converts and processes materials. Flat world indeed - and increasingly low carbon!

What is the takeaway here? This highlights our link - manufacturing doing what it has been doing well for centuries now being forced to include the costs of carbon emission associated with their business. Not just in the plant ... in the materials and components coming in the plant from the supply chain ... in the transportation to deliver our goods to our customer ... and so on.

This is where the next big shift in manufacturing comes from. Define the impacts, see how they are linked to our production process, machinery, plants, supply chain - and then change them, redesign them, re-organize them, and so on to reduce our risk to this "new expense." And gain competitive edge.

This will be a constant theme here.

On the other end of the equation is the technology needed to supply the growing demand for alternate energy and where we fit into that market. The Christian Science Monitor, August 9, 2009, includes an article on "China's Green Revolution" by Peter Ford. The author quotes an energy legal expert at the Wilson Sonsini firm in San Francisco as saying "The rest of the world doesn't even realize we are very likely ceding the next generation of energy technology to the Chinese." He is referring to the aggressive development of energy technology to meet the impressive need for energy in China - much of this development (industrial and infrastructure) is built on forward looking government policy. This applies to the electric car sector, solar and, "clean" coal. One of the closing comments in the article includes an observation by an expert indicating that China sees this as a market not presently "claimed or controlled by any one nation" thus giving them the opportunity - using education, manufacturing technology and careful substantial capital investment.

Finally, the Economist, August 15, 2009, includes an article on "Greening the rust belt" reviewing the balance between an evolving clean energy industry and potential stifling of that due to carbon emission regulations. The concern is that the developing alternate energy business may be thwarted by the increasing regulation of carbon emissions. The midwest is specially sensitive to this (recall our discussion some blogs ago about the varying energy mix throughout the US - some states relying heavily on coal power for a large carbon dioxide to electrical power ratio). With respect to the stimulus spending in green technology, the president of a young solar power company in Toledo (and a professor to boot) comments that "... this is an investment for our economy, and our future."

And, a key part of realizing the benefits of that investment is the growth of a manufacturing technology base capable of scaling up these green sprouts using low carbon machines, processes and systems.

Finally, in the "This may interest you" department - a Webinar.

Thanks to this blog I've been getting some very interesting contacts. One, a company called Climate Earth in San Francisco (http://www.climateearth.com/), offered to allow me to use one of their regular "webinar" slots to present some of the material on "Why Green Manufacturing?" (sound familiar?!).

The details are- Date: Thursday, September 17, 2009; Time: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM PDT. Registration for the webinar is at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/187277227 and after registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. Did I mention it was free? Hope you can join us for this.

And, I have no involvement with this company myself but one of my PhD students is working part time with them.

Two other interesting sources I've come upon since the blog began that will stimulate some discussion are "manufacturing crunch" - http://mfgcrunch.ning.com/, and "environmental leader" - http://www.environmentalleader.com/. They've both been very supportive of some of the ideas expressed in this blog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's your manufacturing footprint!?

Footprints can reflect many things (carbon, world's resource share, water, green house gases, etc.) and usually refer to a conversion of some aspect of the energy, materials or other resources used in a product or consumption into a common metric and then compared to some average. A carbon footprint is defined as "the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product" (UK Carbon Trust 2008; http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/solutions/CarbonFootprinting/what_is_a_carbon_footprint.htm).

Or, a popular measure reflects our individual lifestyles and the impact of that compared to how much of our "fair share" of the world's resources we consume with that lifestyle. For example, http://www.myfootprint.org/ purports to calculate the amount of land and ocean required to sustain an individual's consumption and absorb their waste based on their reported consumption pattern and lifestyle. It then tells you how many times your share of the earth's resources you consume (based on some estimate of how much is available world wide divided by the world population.) Another one is http://www.carbonfootprint.com/ which is linked to a business site. There are many more. Warning: read carefully and do not assume the same data entered into another calculator will give you the same results!

One that I use in class is from colleagues at UC Berkeley, http://bie.berkeley.edu/files/ConsumerFootprintCalc.swf. It allows much more detailed entry information on types of autos used and gas mileage, flights (long or short- it matters since, I understand, the takeoff and landing have a different impact than a long flight at altitude), and dollar values for expenditures in housing, food, etc.

This is fun when we apply this to our personal lives but it would not help much in manufacturing analysis. That is much more complicated since, as we discussed in an earlier posting, this conversion from consumption to impact varies tremendously depending on the source of energy and, importantly, the bill of materials/supply chain providing the components for your product. We'd like to see the quantitative link between a machine or system design and its performance and impact. Otherwise it is not much help to us as engineers.

It is even more complex than one might envision when we try to determine "how low can you go" in your footprint - that is, how little of the earth's resources can you use?

Overall, energy use scales with disposable income (above a certain base level of income). So, your "footprint" will reflect your consumption of a number of resources:
  • energy - heating, lighting, food/cooking
  • housing: how big, how many share it, what climate do you live in, do you have air conditioning/heating, etc.
  • consumables (in addition to energy) including dietary choices (eating locally raised food rather than out of season food from afar, or food transported some distance to you
  • transportation: whether or not you carpool, ride a bike/walk/public transportation, take long airplane trips- business or pleasure (short or long?), have an efficient auto/hybrid
  • entertainment/leisure preferences (ie are you a surround sound mini-theater blue-ray junkie or do you take long walks on the beach),
  • plumbing/showers/gardening water use, etc.
You get the idea. When you see this list you understand why consumption follows available income - it is a lifestyle issue.

A friend of mine, a professor at MIT, Tim Gutowski and his students conducted a study as part of a class project assessing life styles and the resources required to sustain them - in the US. (Source: Environmental Life Style Analysis (ELSA) Timothy Gutowski, et al, IEEE Int'l Symposium on Electronics and the Environment, May 19-20, 2008, San Francisco USA). He and his students studied 18 different life styles ranging from homeless people and Buddhist monks to multimillionaires and an "Oprah approximation” (their words!). In many of the cases they also tried to consider variants on the life style (meaning for a given life style, variations in income and variants for a given life style within a fixed income.) Recall the discussion of my father's activities in the depression - that describes an "income variation for a given life style."

The MIT folks used an economic input-output life cycle analysis technique available for such calculations. Sort of a total cost of ownership calculation for the environmental impact. "Services" and subsidies were included in the assessment (such as those provided by the government). I can't summarize the whole study here but one major finding was that housing, transportation and food often dominate the environmental impacts of individuals.

Included in their summary from the assessment is the following - "...by including the subsidies, we identify a floor, below which environmental impacts for people living in the United States do not drop. For example, none of the life styles studied here ever resulted in an energy requirement below 120GJ (in 1997). This includes the life style of a five year old child, a homeless person and a Buddhist monk. [This] is almost double the global average energy use in that year (64 GJ)."

Even Buddhist monks, if living in the US, will consume the equivalent of double the global average energy/person in a year!

This study also re-iterated an important point - if you cut down in one area but use the savings to engage in riotous living in another area ... the impact may be negative. For example - if you buy a hybrid vehicle and then use the savings in gasoline to fund an airplane trip to Paris for vacation, the impact of your airplane ride may wipe out the gains of your energy conscious purchase.

But, you are probably asking at this point, what does this have to do with green manufacturing?!

This is a big issue - one of the key issues I would say. How can you tell whether or not the cure is better than the disease? How do you know your careful system to reduce cutting fluid and lubrication during machining (so called MQL for minimum quantity lubrication) does not require additional part cleaning capability, dust/particle evacuation or chip handling hardware, or specialized tooling that, combined, require an investment in materials and energy (production, installation and maintenance) that exceeds the savings anticipated with the new system?

This is what metrics are for and, if embodied in analytical tools, can give the engineer, designer, and technical specialist the ability to make a "cost-benefit analysis" (except this time it is environmental cost) as part of the due diligence. And insure it covers enough of the life cycle. If we can determine the "footprint" of our product or process or system, and we know what parameters affect it, then we can start to make informed decisions about our manufacturing processes and systems.

This part of the discussion is to be continued in a future posting.

By the way ... my footprint is 5.6 "earths" - meaning if everyone lived like I do we'd need that many earths to support us all. I'm working on it. What's yours?

Green Manufacturing Note: Here is an informative site if you are following green business trends and practice, http://www.environmentalleader.com/.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grappling with Sustainability

Subtitle: "Why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?" — Groucho Marx

In the posting on July 17th we started to address this issue of "what is sustainability." The Brundtland Commission, 1983, of the United Nations defined sustainable development as
"development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
• the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
• the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

The full report is available at http://www.worldinbalance.net/agreements/1987-brundtland.php.

We may disagree with the approach or conclusions reached by the report but the topic is worthy of consideration and, increasingly, the term is being used to promote action (legislative, business, social/consumer) that will affect how we do business. We'd better be comfortable with how we fit into this discussion and know where it is heading.

The Brundtland Commission report points out the need for recognizing the social, as well as economic and environmental, aspects of sustainability. This has been one of the problems with understanding what sustainability is and how is applies to our particular area of interest - manufacturing.

I referred a few blogs ago to a simple definition that has been offered by the Japanese copier company Ricoh (http://www.ricoh.com/environment/policy/5.html). Ricoh has defined sustainability, in terms of development and progress, as follows: "We are aiming to create a society whose environmental impact is below the level that the self-recovery capability of the natural environment can deal with." They gave a simple example: "... the reduction target of CO2 emissions is generally based on the 1990 emission level, but in the future we need to limit emissions based on the estimated emission level that the self-recovery capability of the Earth could deal with.” This example is what Brundtland Commission report was referring to with respect to "limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs." Ricoh addresses technology. Social organization is more complex.

Ricoh have started to bring this definition closer to earth for manufacturing practitioners. How to define, measure, react/modify - that is, how to tell whether or not you are "sustainable" or on a road to sustainability - is a big challenge. This is specially acute with respect to social aspects.

We need to first define a metric for assessing our level of activity with respect to any of the critical elements (from energy and resource consumption to social impact). Once having that, we can determine where we are and, over time, assess or rate of change and the "slope" of our actions. The term "changing the curve" is used more and more these days to indicate that we need to take action to, first, reduce the movement away from a desirable outcome (for example growing deficits moves us away from a balanced budget), then reduce our impact so that we approach a more sustainable level of operation (to continue the budget analogy, reduce spending so that our outflow is appropriate for our income to balance our budget). That's what Ricoh was referring to.

I was preparing a lecture for my graduate class this fall on "Sustainable Manufacturing" and came upon the corporate sustainability report of United Parcel Service (or UPS). Companies issue these reports annually, for UPS see http://www.sustainability.ups.com/sustainability/index.html. The content varies depending on how seriously the company, and its management, take sustainability as a critical element of their business. UPS does a pretty good job and I was impressed with their definitions, or characterization, of three legs of sustainability.

They define economic prosperity with respect to "strengthen[ing] the enterprise," social responsibility with respect to "improv[ing] the human condition," and environmental stewardship with respect to "protect[ing] the environment." They give details:
  • environmental stewardship includes conserving energy, protecting natural resources, reducing, reusing and recycling, delivering green services and operating efficiently (these last two are shown overlapping with economic and social aspects.
  • economic prosperity includes growing the business profitably, focusing on customers, building the brand, providing value added solutions, supporting global trade and acting responsibly (this last one overlapping with social and environmental aspects.)
  • social responsibility includes supporting communities, embracing diversity and human rights, providing competitive compensation, promoting wellness and safety, developing people and leading by example (these last two overlapping with the other aspects).
So this is a good start. Some of the terms are still a bit fuzzy and, maybe, "buzz wordy" but they are on the right track. There is more on the UPS site. And, of course, many other examples from other companies.

When reading these keep in mind our prior discussion about greenwashing (posting of July 30th) and think about how you would measure your current level and rate of change in any one of these elements if you were tasked with doing the "balance sheet" on sustainability for your company. Then, another challenge, how to report it to the public (so some professor writing a blog doesn't find it on line and quote from it and make critical comments!)

Next time we'll start on defining metrics with a special emphasis on our "footprint."