Volume 17 Number 2 - February 5, 2019

Getting Over the Hump

A facility I know in North Carolina drastically reduced water used in their production processes, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Many operations save money and improve safety by installing modern lighting. The ROI on projects like these can be just months.

Water and energy both cost money and are in limited supply yet it's easy to overlook those arenas of waste. But true excellence requires attention to both. Zero landfill goals are another responsibility of manufacturers, for both their productive processes and the products they create.

Both the Association of Manufacturing Excellence and the IndustryWeek Best Plants award applications (I have served as an examiner for both) examine progress made in those categories.

For example, AME statements of excellence include:

  • The company has reduced energy usage in its internal operations and in logistics. Company effectively working toward zero waste to landfills. Company also helps customers, suppliers, and employees to reduce energy usage including commuting and at home.
  • There is significant attention given to environmental programs. Plant is moving toward a carbon neutral position. Alternative sources of energy being measured and tracked (e.g., using a high percentage of energy coming from renewable sources).

The best operations plan for and execute reuse of water. Drinking water can be one class; toilet water another; watering grass and plants another. Using excess water flow multiple times is simply smart. The purity requirements of water used in production vary, as do the contaminants that the process may add to the water. Even if it can't be reused, focus on reducing the volume required.

Operational excellence is not just 5S and hour-by-hour boards. It focuses not simply on production process primary materials, but on the impact on all five constituencies: employees, suppliers, customers, investors, and the community at large – which includes the future.

I agree completely that spreading improvement activities too thin results in shallow changes that likely won't last. Focus on as few, and as many, as your organizational capacity can handle. And when they are stable, add more. You will never run out of improvement opportunities that truly make a difference.

And the biggest waste is that of human potential.

Delusional Excellence® confines itself; true excellence reflects a human world view. Email me a quick summary of your biggest challenge in getting over the hump; I'll give you some helpful ideas.

The Starting Pistol

Jane Goodall:
"You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make."

The Tape

Rebecca Morgan:
"How could anyone believe that excellence includes a negative impact?"

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