Updated: February 21st, 2019

Beyond preserving resources, green business practices can pay off in cost savings and stronger sales.

By Caroline Hayes

In manufacturing, there’s lean and then there’s green. Lean manufacturing is a set of principles designed to reduce waste in manufacturing. The aim of lean is to achieve higher throughput rates with minimum inventory. Driving out waste in the manufacturing process should result in more money being available to reduce the cost of the product or to invest in product development.

Green manufacturing takes this lean philosophy further to consider the environmental impact of the materials and processes used to manufacture products. Another factor to consider is the energy used in production and the supply chain that brings these products to the market. After all, it is no good having a green product if it takes vast amounts of energy to manufacture and transport it.

Advocates for green business practices believe the two disciplines should be followed together. Lean manufacturing addresses the inventory and stock, while green manufacturing focuses on the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. Both reduce waste, save time and materials, and — when done right — can increase profits.

Companies should also look at the complete lifecycle of the product to evaluate its true environmental impact and sustainability. One of the main areas of concern for connector manufacturers is: Will the materials presently used still be available in 10 to 15 years?

For connector manufacturers, the availability of materials is not always dictated by diminishing resources; safety legislation plays a role as well. For instance, the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) directive banned the use of cadmium in 2011 and restricted the use of hexavalent chromium in 2007.

Sustainable Manufacturing

Wendy Preston, Harwin

Wendy Preston, technical marketing