Our growing focus on improving our environment has placed pressure on many organizations to re-evaluate their business practices. As a result, many manufacturers are on the hot seat when it comes to implementing production methods that will lessen their environmental impact.
That’s the beauty of Lean Six Sigma. By aligning it with sustainability principles, manufacturers (and subsequently all of us) benefit by removing variation from production processes and reducing defects, which in turn leads to decreased scrap, raw materials and energy usage, and waste.
Additionally, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), used correctly Lean Six Sigma can “help focus attention on reducing conditions that can result in accidents, spills, and equipment malfunctions” as well as “focus on product durability and reliability” to increase the lifespan of products.
Between 2002 and 2007, climate change regulations rose 300%. Along with this increase there was a 17% rise in the number of green buyers. This number has likely further increased over the last five years.
However, convincing business owners there is a link between Lean Six Sigma and the health of the environment may not be easy. Therefore, learning to “speak the language of business” is critical.
The EPA suggests taking actions such as:
- Explain to environmental health personnel how LSS will reduce costs, decrease production lead times, increase value to customers, and retain business and jobs
- Convince LSS managers about the value of addressing projects from an environmental view
- Share examples that illustrate the value of LSS and environmental programs as well as specific results from prior projects
- Develop partnerships with environmental service providers
- Observe processes firsthand by walking the shop floor and asking questions
- Use visual controls, standard work, 6S (5S + Safety), and other Lean Six Sigma tools to increase awareness and use of appropriate procedures and practices for protecting worker health, safety, and the environment
There is no single “right” way to blend Lean Six Sigma with environmental issues. However, with the right LSS training we can provide you with the skills you need to understand the process and take the first steps toward integration.