Improving Environmental Efficiency – A ‘Lean and Green’ approach

Posted on 3 Feb 2010 by The Manufacturer

Dominic Brown, Senior Manufacturing Specialist at MAS South East introduces the organisations new ‘Lean and Green’ programme...

South East Manufacturers want support in reducing waste, saving energy and ultimately making their businesses sustainable – as well as understanding legislation and help to adopt environmental management systems. Manufacturers want realistic, timely and cost effective methods to make this possible – which is where the MAS South East programme entitled ‘Lean and Green’ comes in.

Lean and Green
‘Lean and Green’ is a programme that helps manufacturers reduce cost, by eliminating non value adding activity and enhancing customer value. The Lean and Green programme specifically addresses the opportunities to reduce the consumption of energy and water and waste sent to landfill. At a strategic level, the Lean and Green approach programme is about ‘extended value chains’ – from sourcing raw materials to delivery to the customer – and the many opportunities to take cost out of the supply chain whilst maximising the environmental benefits.

Lean and Green Pioneers – Robert Bion Limited
One of the companies in the pilot programme is Robert Bion & Company Ltd, based in Berkshire.

After 45 years in the business of metal and plastic perforation, Robert Bion & Company has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to environmental improvements. With a strategic aim for the company to reduce its carbon footprint, alongside improving resource efficiency and the bottom line, the company has a strong track record with environmental initiatives. Despite surviving the downturn without losing any of its 27 specialised employees, there is recognition by Robert Bion’s management team that long term sustainable growth is dependent on taking some tough decisions about resource efficiency and saving the company money.

Jane High, Operations Director, said: “The decisions we’ve taken for the business at Robert Bion have been driven by a genuine desire to be more resource efficient – and play our part in building a sustainable manufacturing future. “Because of our business model, we were already recycling the main waste element of production process – namely the scrap metal and punchings produced as a result of our process. We also recycle office waste and have for many years worked towards getting suppliers to take back their wooden pallets or recycle the wood. We are striving to reduce our energy costs by 15% year on year.

“We have high hopes of delivering tangible bottom line benefits with the current ‘Lean and Green’ project. Whilst we’re still in the planning stage, we are working with Dominic Brown to look at areas like the use of compressed air and other materials more efficiently. We also are in the early phases of a project with the Carbon Trust, to deliver improved energy use across the company. “Some examples of our successes so far at Robert Bion include: reducing waste sent to landfill from 9.6 tons in 2007, to 2.6 tons so far this year – a huge saving of 70%. Simple changes like controlling the distribution of work gloves, has already reduced our £1,000 a year bill to less than £300. Spending on packaging materials has reduced from £38,000 in 2007 to just over £8,000 in 2009 – and we believe that we can go further in reuse of these and other materials used. At Robert Bion, we are committed to delivering our goals – and believe that working with MAS South East will help us to achieve our strategic aims for the environment and the bottom line!” How Lean and Green Works A ‘top down’ approach ensures that there is a broad understanding about how the whole manufacturing facility performs. Efficiency can be measured by understanding how much material, energy and water are consumed, how much is converted into a finished product and how much is waste. MAS South East will then work with key staff using their standard tools and techniques to develop and implement agreed solutions.

Adding Value
The second element of the Lean and Green approach involves our specialists capturing environmental savings as a by-product of an MAS South East Lean review making our support work harder, making a difference to the environment and improving the bottom line of the company. For further information on the work MAS South East is doing on environmental efficiency with manufacturers in the South East, please contact Dominic Brown [email protected].