Thursday, October 29, 2009

Moving Green "Upstream"

The last two postings we've been discussing "ubiquitously green" and how to insure that green design and manufacturing incorporates all the stages of the product from extraction of materials through the process of material conversion, to manufacture and assembly of the product, its distribution and delivery, use and eventual  reuse, remanufacture or recycling- that is,  "everywhere at the same time" - the meaning of ubiquitous.

We also discussed means to insure that the cure was better than the disease - return on investment in terms of reduced impact or consumption of the technology wedges we're implementing.

The recent rise in oil and other forms of energy derived from carbon-based fuels has been a big driver in reduced consumption of energy. Increasing scarcity of water and some other materials has driven the point home. The requirements for reducing impacts  haven't always been so obvious.

Earlier this week I had a guest lecturer in my graduate class on Sustainable Manufacturing, Dani Tsuda from the WSP Group (a global consultancy specializing in, among others, environment and energy in industrial sectors). Dani has lectured to my class before and, with his experience in environmental regulations and compliance and prior experience with a major computer manufacturer, offers a rare view into the design of products for global markets with, often, differing materials, impact and other regulations.

He started with a review of the evolution of regulations. As I was listening to this interesting scenario of increasing regulations in response, usually, to some disaster or near disaster I was building a mental image of a rock tossed in a pond with ripples moving out from the center of the impact - meaning the coverage of these regulations expanded over time.

As I discussed some blogs ago when speaking of the "tragedy of the commons," most of these regulations have made our lives substantially better - more sustainable one might say.

In fact, to me the the evolution of these regulations seems to be moving green concepts in design and manufacturing further upstream.

Here's what I mean. Initially there were essentially no regulations - laissez faire. Not good for reasons we know too well (Dani reminded us of Rachael Carson and the battle over the use of DDT.) The focus then shifted to the "end of pipe" solutions - meaning, clean up what comes out of the end of the process -and much effort went into technology to remove unwanted and/or hazardous materials from liquid, solid and gaseous waste from our factories.

The next evolution of regulations then covered manufacturing processes and what materials were used in them to try to catch the nasty stuff at the source before it got into the waste stream - move up the pipe so to speak. This is, of course, much better since you are not creating waste that then needs to be treated.

Following this, spurred by European Union (EU) and others, we saw a move to affect the design of the product and the materials that were specified in the product at the earliest stages of conception. Regulations such as ROHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances - see came into force and gave some lists of materials not to be used. Companies ran afoul of these lists at their own peril. An excellent example is Sony and their Play Station fiasco in 2001 although this was "pre-ROHS" and likely due to specific Dutch regulations (

Dani Tsuda reminded us that still, in many cases, the impact of the product in the market in terms of unanticipated problems with materials it contained had usually been identified after some number of complaints or effects were seen in the user community. And then a regulatory reaction would take place if it was determined that a link between the product and the problem was identified.

We now see regulations addressing this moving upstream with such things as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals - see which essentially requires the manufacturer to essentially prove, in advance, that the product being introduced to the market does not contain any materials, chemicals, etc. that are hazardous.

And, with the recently introduced Ecodesign program, addressing the improvement of the environmental performance of energy-using products by the EU (see, and insuring harmonization of performance across the EU, the movement of green upstream seems to be complete.

Wikipedia defines ecodesign ( as regarding the whole product life cycle should be in an integrated perspective, with representatives from advance development, design, production, marketing, purchasing and project management working together on the design of a further developed or new product so the environmental aspects can to be analysed for every stage of the life cycle. These aspects are defined as:

- Consumption of resources (energy, materials, water or land area)
- Emissions to air, water, and the ground as being relevant for
the environment and human health
- Miscellaneous (e.g. noise and vibration)

I hope that at this point I don't have to pose the rhetorical question "what does this have to do with manufacturing?" (!). You should be able to see that to operate as a business in a global environment where the world is your marketplace you will need to embody the principles of ubiquitously green we've discussed as part of our strategy for green manufacturing.

In the first few blogs some months ago we talked about "why green manufacturing" as an opener. Add this evolution of requirements for operating in  the global marketplace to the list.

Green manufacturing has really moved all the way back upstream.

By the way, I've gotten a few responses to my "assignment" last week to find some examples of companies moving towards "ubiquitously green" and send them to me (use the comment section below or e-mail: I'd very much like to hear your suggestions and will put together a list of the more interesting ones in a future blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ubiquitously Green - II

Sub title: Manufacture for Green and Sustainable Design

Last time we presented the concept of green design and manufacturing incorporating all the stages of the product from extraction of materials through the process of material conversion, to manufacture and assembly of the product, its distribution and delivery, use and eventual  reuse, remanufacture or recycling. The principles of green and sustainable manufacturing should be "everywhere at the same time; constantly encountered" - the meaning of ubiquitous. The motivation for this came from Dr. Yoon Lee of Samsung in California in a discussion we had on "consumerization" and green principles.

Part II of this discussion elaborates on this.

To make sustainable manufacturing an eventual reality, by taking small green steps in the design of our process and product along the full life cycle, we need to create the "equilibrium point" between the needs of the consumer and and creating lasting value. This comes from good design - with all the meaning of that word "design" intact along the entire product life cycle. An axiom of this is that there is no value to sustainability unless it delivers the design - meaning the product must function correctly with the required quality and reliability manufactured at the required cost while meeting the constraints of the "triple bottom line" of sustainability - economic, societal and environmental resources.

Ubiquitously green requires a certain fundamental basis for manufacturing at the design, process planning level and resource management level. On top of that foundation must be build an operational capability that incorporates correct choice and use of materials, consumables, minimization of waste in production, and so on. That gets the product or system built. This can be referred to as the "functional" level of our sustainability structure (or principles.)

Now we need to communicate that "value" to the customer and record our progress or impact. This requires two additional levels in our structure, on a more "emotional" level (in terms of perception of value but, importantly, backed up by metrics). These two levels can be characterized as, first, green messaging (or managing the product identity) and communication and, second, green rewards (determined by return on investment and metrics).

A convenient way of representing this sustainability structure is seen in the figure below from Dr. Lee. The pyramid is arranged with the lower foundational principles, applied to infrastructure and operations (the functional levels) providing a base on which the higher level principles, messaging and rewards, are built. It is clear that, applying this all along the life cycle (from materials extraction to end of product life and/or reuse) will insure that the product or process designed is ubiquitously green.

Source: Y. Lee, Samsung  (Note: click on the image to see a larger image for viewing)

What about the details? In earlier postings we've touched on many of these elements - certainly communication and management of consumables or process optimization. We've not yet spoken about identity management (to come in the future). In the August 10th and 24th postings we had a substantial discussion about metrics and options for greening manufacturing. These  options

- 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 for the details)

laid out approaches to the lower two levels of the sustainability pyramid shown above.

But what about the metrics? In the August 25th posting I defined a metric as a type of "measurement used to gauge some quantifiable component" of performance. I then listed some candidate metrics:

o Global warming gases emission (CO2, methane CH4, N2O, CFC’s)
  per capita
  per GDP
  per area/nation

o Recyclability (or percent recycled)

o Reuse of materials

o Energy consumption

o Pollution (air, water, land)

o Ecological footprint - “fair share” - footprint (discussed in an earlier blog)

o Exergy (available energy) or other thermodynamic measures

I proposed that these could be represented in terms of a "return on investment (ROI)" - for example, greenhouse gas return on investment (GROI) or similar concepts of energy payback time , water (or materials, consumables) payback time, carbon footprint, or efficiency improvement (for example, wrt exergy).

Is this reasonable? I think so. Let me give you one example (and I am sure there are others.)

I recently found and read Honda's 2009 Environmental Annual Report (it's online - see
It reads like a "how to" manual for implementing ubiquitously green design and manufacturing. It covers most of the important elements from product development, through manufacturing and use. Even product recycling is addressed. It does not cover some of the earlier aspects of the full product life cycle (resource extraction, for example) that I can tell. But it is very complete.

It also addresses the "emotional" levels in the sustainability pyramid in terms of identity management and, for sure, metrics and ROI. Figures are given on the last several year's performance in production CO2, waste generation, volatile organic compounds (VOC) per automobile painted, packaging use in transportation, recycling rates, and so on. This would allow computation of a ROI if data on magnitude of the efforts taken to achieve these results were available.

Certainly there is more to be done. But efforts such as those reported by Honda indicate that these principles can be applied in real companies making real products.

Here is your assignment - find some additional examples of companies moving towards "ubiquitously green" and send them to me. I'll put together a list of the more interesting ones in a future blog.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ubiquitously Green - Part I

Subtitle: Manufacture for Green and Sustainable Design

Mirriam Webster defines ubiquitous as "existing or being everywhere at the same time;  constantly encountered; widespread" and they give the example "a ubiquitous fashion." The adverb ubiquitously means, essentially, in a ubiquitous manner. Another term that could be used here is holistic - meaning incorporating all aspects.

We will explore what this means when it modifies green or sustainable and how it can be a pathway of thinking that can lead to the creation of green and sustainable products by focusing on the manufacturing capabilities - meaning viewing manufacturing technology as an enabler - not just a constraint. And what those green manufacturing technologies will be capable of.

Much of the motivation for this discussion, and the next posting, came from conversations with and a presentation to my graduate class on sustainable manufacturing from Dr. Yoon Lee (Managing Director, Product Innovation Team at Samsung in California). Dr. Lee is a 2000 graduate of Berkeley and did his PhD thesis under my direction. (His views represent his own perspective and not necessarily that of Samsung.) His presentation was titled "Consumerizing Technology and Products - a paradigm shift from DFm to MFd" and covered a range of topics including the influences of sustainable and green design on his work. He titled the slides covering that material as "ubiquitously green" as part of a "green as a way of life" movement.

I like to think of it with respect to our discussion here as "green as a way of manufacturing" movement.

As part of my class this semester I asked the students to develop a definition of sustainability and sustainable manufacturing. We had previously discussed various aspects of this term as it applied to manufacturing. The class then voted on the one they thought was most reasonable. The winner, 40% selected it as their first choice and 25% as their second choice, was:

‘Sustainability considers the past, present and future of products, services and/or economic processes to ensure that future generations enjoy a healthy environment and access to necessary resources. Sustainability is a holistic approach to materials, processes, use, shipping and end of life, extending beyond traditional norms and paradigms. At its best, sustainability inspires innovative business models by redefining economic incentives and consumption patterns.’

Not bad...only a few overused words like "paradigm" but, importantly, it covers the main bases of the concept. They did not use ubiquitous but did use holistic. That's on target. We are now working on how to map this definition onto the manufacturing space to determine specific actions in design and manufacturing that follow. This is the hard part.

Last blog I was picking apart some of the "steps to sustainability" recently published arguing that they offer little help in actuality in an industrial setting. So now it's my turn to try to do better!

Dr. Lee's lecture in my class started by explaining the process by which products are "consumerized" - meaning moving from a "here's some neat technology - use it" from the engineer's perspective to "I need the product to do it like this" from the consumer's perspective. This latter view challenges us as manufacturers to create new products with new capabilities. This is contrary to the perspective that the designer tries her best to design "in the box" created by manufacturing capability. This is part of what the definition of sustainability from my class cited above meant when including the term "redefining consumptive patterns."

It is here where we find the challenges. Perhaps you've heard of the terms "design for manufacturing" (or DfM) and "manufacturing for design" (MfD). This is very commonly used in the semiconductor industry where manufacturing restrictions often limit the capability of designers in chip design. The concept is that, from the perspective of the designer, she should be able to look down the product development and manufacturing pipeline and anticipate problems and challenges to manufacture the design or some particular feature. It's the reverse for the Mfd side. The manufacturing engineer should be able to look up the pipeline and see design features and elements that are going to cause challenges. Or, ideally, see the requirements of design in advance so that the capable manufacturing processes or systems can be in place when the design rattles down the pipe to production.

So, back to ubiquitously green (or sustainable). This term implies a product design and development process through manufacturing that is driven by the objective of "generating meaningful value" to customers. And here we might be so bold as to suggest that we view the environment, or society or business as "our customers." Dr. Lee draws an equivalence between sustainability and delivering lasting value. And the need to "create the equilibrium point" for sustainability between the needs of the consumer. This means that delivering lasting value meets a consumer need.

Now, granted, the company Dr. Lee works for is engaged in manufacturing consumer products - not the machinery that makes them or capital goods, etc. But it is this viewpoint of ubiquitously green or sustainable that will be most valuable in our work to drive green manufacturing.

That is, throughout the stages from extraction of materials through the process of their conversion, to manufacture and assembly of the product, its distribution and delivery, use and eventual  reuse, remanufacture or recycling, the principles of green and sustainable manufacturing should be "everywhere at the same time; constantly encountered."

Part II of this discussion will elaborate on how we do that. Not surprisingly, metrics will be part of the discussion.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"12 Steps" are only the first steps!

The last blog focussed on specific actions that can be taken closer to the factory floor relative to greening the manufacturing process...a critical step towards sustainable manufacturing.

Since then I've seen several reference to what can be done to advance an enterprise towards sustainability along the lines of the popular self help books "x steps to y" (you fill in the blanks of number of steps to whatever goal!)

I remember an advertising for installing a skylight in your home from a few years ago. It listed three steps: cut hole in roof and ceiling of room, drop in skylight, enjoy (I am not kidding ... the last step showed the proud homeowner sitting under the skylight enjoying the new skylight.) I'm not a contractor but I suspect there might be a bit more to it than this!

A recent article in GreenBiz referred to a report from a San Francisco consulting company titled "12 Steps to Sustainability-How Every Company Can Implement Sustainability to Improve the Bottom Line and the Environment" (see for a free download). I was intrigued. On the same day an Environmental Leader article by Gwen Ruta of Environmental Defense Fund discussed the increasing number of companies turning to product life cycle analysis for driving sustainability in their business (see ). She poses the question "Why should any purchaser pay for the extra energy or water or wasted raw materials embedded in products made by another company that has not yet embraced sustainability?" Bingo.

And, of course, this works for consumers as well as business.

But back to the 12 steps. The steps suggested are:

1. Integrate sustainability into the company's vision, values, or core mission statement. 
2. Set goals that are specific, credible, measurable, and normalized for business  changes. 
3. Treat sustainability projects with the same business case requirements as other  projects. 
4. Let the CEO and senior executives be the key spokespeople, and demonstrate  internal commitment. 
5. Establish a strong governance model. 
6. Ensure employee engagement. 
7. Drive operational efficiencies. 
8. Implement technologies and policies to reduce business travel and commuting. 
9. Employ product life-cycle analysis to inform new designs. 
10. Communicate internally and externally. 
11. Partner with the Supply Chain.
12. Engage various stakeholders.

These are all valuable suggestions and help business understand the requirements of implementing green and sustainable practice. 

But such lists often run out of steam as one tries to actually effect change in an organization. For example, if I was worried about something that is arguably a major element in sustainable practice - the "extra energy or water or wasted raw materials embedded in products made by another company " -  which one of these steps would tell me how to find the answer? Step #9 is perhaps the most useful but done correctly is a major undertaking and, arguably, does not offer much help at the individual product design or production level (that is - how your specific product compares to the whole business and all products of a similar type.)

Some steps tell me how to evaluate an answer if I get one (like #3). Some tell me I need to talk to my supply chain (like #11). But what, specifically, do I do?

For answers at the level of execution I need to be a lot closer to the operational level. For example, to answer the question about embedded energy, water or materials, I'll need to make sure I know all the players in my supply chain (do you know this to the lowest level?). I'll need to ask them if they have data on the hard bits of this calculation - all the energy used to make their product (that is, to add value to the incoming material/parts to their facility that converts it into their product that they send to me). Not just the motor current times voltage on the machines that process the part(s) for some cycle time. Ditto for water and other consumables. 

Remember our discussion about scopes 1, 2 and 3 of ISO 14064 from the August 25th posting? These refer to 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. You need the same level of information for water, materials and other consumables to do this right.

Then, with this information, and an estimation of what impact these embedded resources have on the price I pay ( the supplier really aware of everything included in her product she is supplying to me?) I can use some of the business case tools (#3) to evaluate whether or not another supplier can compete based on their "more sustainable" product.

I suspect I will not be able to get this information. Most companies don't yet have this but a number of them are working to nail these down. 

I don't want to trivialize the importance of addressing the ideas put forward in these steps (or anyone's steps for that matter). But, if moving forward on #4 and 6 ("Let the CEO and senior executives be the key spokespeople, and demonstrate  internal commitment" and "Ensure employee engagement") means a memo to engineering or purchasing to #11 "Partner with the supply chain" as part of your effort to #12 "Engage various stakeholders" - it will incite a "Dilbertesque" reaction!

What can we do? A good place to start is to look into our manufacturing engineering tool box for tools that work but may not have been, til now, applied to greening the process as part of our move to sustainable manufacturing. We've mentioned other approaches in earlier blogs. How about TPS?

The Toyota Production System (TPS) cites another list - the "original seven wastes." These are:

   1. Overproducing.
   2. Wasting time waiting.
   3. Transporting.
   4. Over-processing.
   5. Excess Inventory (WIP).
   6. Excess motion of workers, including lack of ergonomics.
   7. Scrap and rework.

These all add unnecessary time, material, resources and, ultimately, energy to manufacturing. They probably don't  address the collateral impacts (transportation costs, HVAC in the building, overhead due to HR, etc.) but, for sure, on a part by part comparison, they show where to get rid of the bits not needed. And this will save energy, time, water, material and consumables. We can use our return on investment calculations to tell us if it is a sound business decision.

And we can evaluate our suppliers on the same basis ... or at least ask them to consider these in their operations or demonstrate to us they are following this procedure, or another equivalent one.

Following the article on 12 steps I've been discussing was another one by Matthew Wheeland titled "Are 12 Steps Enough to Get to Sustainability?" (see He follows a slightly different train of thought but makes good points along the same lines as I do. 

We have to start somewhere ... and sometime. As you develop your sustainability "triptik" for your journey make sure you keep an eye on the details. Happy travels!

One more thing. My webinar on "Why Green Manufacturing" is now up on the internet for viewing. Due to the length (and to insure readability) it is posted in 7 segments of about 8 minutes each or so. The direct link is or you can access it via Climate Earth's website at .