Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lean & Green

By Al Norval,

A topic that doesn’t get as much time as it deserves is the relationship between Lean and Green.

We know that Lean is based on Team Members driving the elimination of waste to provide our Customers with more value. Toyota has summarized these in three key principles:

Green has become the symbolic color of environment protection and social justice. It was chosen for its association with nature, health and growth.

But how are they related?

One of the key tenets of Lean is “do more with Less”
– less human effort, less time and less resources so we’re able to turn our inputs into outputs faster with less waste.

Normally we think of this as the waste of production materials but let’s look deeper and see what other wastes we can uncover. This means less waste in:
  • The water & energy used to produce the materials
  • The effort, equipment & energy required to move the materials
  • The man-power, materials and energy needed to build equipment that over-produces to customer demand
  • The energy required to heat & cool buildings built to house these over-sized pieces of equipment
  • Information systems needed to track the materials and transactions
  • The effort needed to maintain all this extra stuff

The list is almost endless. The truth is our current cost systems don’t track these types of wastes very well, if at all, so they form part of a large, barely visible mountain of waste. The Remedy to this is to begin to see waste with a new set of eyes and that begins with developing a new set of Mental Models to guide us. The Lean Thinking Brain Booster pocket cards are a great starting point for anyone beginning this journey and for people who need a quick refresher.

Elimination of Waste – great for customers, Team Members, Shareholders and good for the environment.


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