Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sustainability as a Driver for Manufacturing Innovation

7th Wu Lecture at University of Michigan

I was invited to present the Seventh S. M. Wu Lecture in Manufacturing Science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on October 28th, 2013. The topic was billed as "innovation in advanced manufacturing" but I used the occasion to shift rapidly into a discussion about sustainability as a driver for manufacturing innovation - a familiar topic to reader of these posts!

The lecture was videotaped and made available to stream on-line to anyone interested. In place of a written blog this time around I am offering this lecture instead. There is a link to the video post of the lecture at the end of this text section.

The content of the lecture is as follows:

    - Some history from Madison
    - Advanced manufacturing
    - What is sustainable manufacturing
    - How is sustainability linked to  productivity and innovation?
    - Riding the “wave of big data”
    - Some examples

Some explanation about this lecture series and my involvement … Professor S. M. Wu was a pioneer in the application of statistical methods to the understanding and optimization of manufacturing processes. While he was at UW-Madison in the late '70's I was one of his PhD students (actually PhD #29 out of some 118!). He later moved to Univ. of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he had a very successful career applying these methodologies to a host of challenging manufacturing problems in, among others, the auto industry. He passed on in 1992 and this lecture series is in his memory. So, it is appropriate to start with some nostalgia about the "Madison days" as a grad student with Professor Wu. You can skip that if you like.

The actual lecture starts at slide 7 (00.07:48 into the video). The video presentation is accompanied with the slides presented at the bottom of the screen.

This is an hour long lecture. If you want to watch the whole lecture you might like to break it up into pieces. The start times in the video for each section are listed below:

    - What is sustainable manufacturing - 00.09.45
    - How is sustainability linked to  productivity and innovation? - 00.22.59
    - Riding the “wave of big data” - 00.30.00
    - Some examples - 00.41.06
        - Material selection/process + system design - 00.41.06
        - Social impacts and manufacturing - 00.46.45
        - Leveraging manufacturing for maximum effect - 00.50.27
    - Summary/Acknowledgements - 00.57.12
    - Question and Answers - 00.59.30

Please follow this link to the Seventh S. M. Wu Lecture in Manufacturing Science. The lecture is introduced by Professor Jun Ni of Univ. of Michigan, also a student of Professor Wu.

I'd appreciate any comments or feedback on the content on the lecture.


  1. Dear Sir,

    It is truly inspiring to listen to your talk on Sustainability as a Driver for Manufacturing Innovation. You’ve nicely demonstrated that the existing issues / problems with the industries, societies and the Earth can be a driving force for manufacturing innovation. This force can be the single-most important factor to achieve a greener environment, and green manufacturing is like a catalyst, which defines our product, a greener one!

    I enjoyed your complete talk, indeed. I got an opportunity to know your PhD experience with Prof. S. M. Wu, and your PhD friends at UW-Madison. And you have humorously shared all these experiences.

    You touched upon a lot of issues facing the humankind today like energy, health, damage to environment with respect to time, manufacturing and use. And these issues are like opportunities for a manufacturer to make a greener product to ensure a good environment for ourselves and generations to come. You also demonstrated some solutions / ideas through the case studies in a simple way. These are machine schedule for energy reduction, planning for journey: eco-route map (through your John Deere visit), etc.

    I’m very grateful that I got an opportunity to hear to your thoughts on sustainability through this video.

    Thank you very much for your interesting and insightful points.

    Mahesh Teli

  2. Excellent article! Sustainability is one area of Lean Manufacturing that is in high demand from our corporate leaders. Having the right tools and supplies is a good foundation to achieving Lean ojectives. To compliment any manufacturer see the Tools For All Trades site;

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  4. Your arguments, approach and insights are interesting and unexpected.

  5. indeed inspiring, i came across this blog at Elsevier site posted by Mr Mahesh Teli, i thank him for doing so.. being integral part of nature we must preserve what nature has given us but to exploit it and must make every effort to make it sustain for future generations to come..

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