Sunday, June 6, 2010

Partnership for Sustainable Manufacturing

Or ... "You are either part of the solution or part of the problem."

Today I am using the posting to introduce the Sustainable Manufacturing Partnership (SMP) in the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability (LMAS) at UC Berkeley. Please forgive me if this sounds like an advertisement - it is, sort of, but for noble purposes!

First, a few notes and comments. The second line in the heading of today's posting is actually a quote from Eldridge Cleaver. Mr. Cleaver was not known as an environmentalist but was considered, by many,  to be an effective activist for sure! As a student at Madison in the late 60's I certainly saw many photos/posters of him for causes that seemed urgent at the time.

While searching for the source of that quote I came across two others related to the environment and sustainability I'd like to share:

“Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites." (William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990; he was the first EPA Adminstrator, (1970-1973 and 1983-1985).)

Or, another one more apropos to the situation in the Gulf of Mexico attributed to Calvin:
"That's the problem with nature. Something's always stinging you or oozing mucus on you. Let's go watch TV." Bill Watterson, Something under the bed is drooling, 1988. (Calvin is a character in the "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip by Mr. Watterson.)

Now ... onto the SMP.

I have given several presentations on the challenges and opportunities associated with green manufacturing (and you can download one from LMAS website). I generally start with the "opportunities" and include the following:

• All future energy, transport, medical/health, life style, dwelling, defense and food/water supply systems based on increasingly precise elements and components - hence manufacturing, to be specific, precision or high quality manufacturing, is critical to the future.

• Manufacturing for an energy and environmentally aware consumer (autos, consumer products, buildings, etc.) will become increasingly important. And this will require major shifts in the way we manufacture in terms of materials used, processes and systems.

• Manufacturing alternate energy supply systems. This will also require major shifts in the way we manufacture in terms of materials used, processes and systems - specially if we'd like the US to be a player in this arena.

• Machine tools using less energy, materials, and space will require substantial innovation in design, manufacture, and operation of these "mother machines" (meaning the producing machinery for all other machines and systems).

• Efficient factory operation will insure the green machines will operate in environments as green.

• The "opportunity" to comply with government regulations. This sounds like an academics view of big government but to insure level playing fields and to be responsive to global trends this can be a competitive driver if used constructively.  Remember the tragedy of the commons?!

In the presentation the last conclusions slide, by way of summarizing all the neato stuff presented,  includes the following statements:

• Energy, green manufacturing and related issues are a big opportunity for industry/manufacturing
- new products/services/market leadership
- better overall performance/lower CoO
- more competitive, reduce risk
- take advantage of growing regulatory environment

• This requires careful analysis and development of metrics and analytical tools

• Including energy and green manufacturing aspects can be part of a successful sustainable business strategy

• The problem is too large for individual companies to solve - must be a cooperative effort among industry, associations, researchers, government

It is that last statement that drives the creation of the Sustainable Manufacturing Partnership (or SMP). We have a url- smp.berkeley.edu (although at this time it simply links to the LMAS website). This will be updated as more information becomes available. It takes a team of organizations to make real progress.

The SMP will operate as a consortium of partners. The idea is that, referring to the second summary statement above on the need for "careful analysis and development of metrics and analytical tools", working with partners on specific industry focused problems, these analyses and tools can be created to allow engineers to incorporate green metrics and analyses in all their work on materlal selection, machine design and operation, systems, layout of facilities, operation of these systems and facilities and, ideally, all the way up to the supply chain.  And, of course, smart undergrad and graduate students play a critical role in this - each will tackle a problem area. This insures they are familiarized with the problems and solutions as part of their education but, as well, is a terrific attractor of students.

We are just kicking this off and have several partners already on board or in discussion. These partners cover a range of technologies and industries from basic manufacturing (i.e. "heavy iron") to more specialized manufacturing for aerospace and semiconductor. All fit the definition of "precision manufacturing." We hope to include, as well, folks who can embed these analytical tools into more conventional design software - then the real impact can be driven throughout industry practice.

There is a fee for the partnership of course - got to feed the grad students. But there will also be a mechanism for participation by interested parties who may have something to contribute in other ways.

There will be more to come on this in future postings. If you have interest - please send me an e-mail at dornfeld@berkeley.edu.

Oh, and we had a great vacation touring the US Southwest (National Parks - Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest,  Mesa Verde, plus Santa Fe, etc.) And, if you are ever in Durango Colorado be sure to ride the steam train from Durango to Silverton; smoke, steam, whistles, deep canyons, the works - an amazing combination of engineering and nature.)

3 comments:

  1. Very interesting point of view, I think you are right in most of what you write, more research needs to be done for sure.

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