Sustainable Practices in Manufacturing
Table of Contents
In the recent years, sustainability has become an essential unit of human activities, as well as an obligatory condition, objective and final aim of human development. The increased attention to this question is not surprising, considering the direct link between the environment and all spheres of social activities. Correspondingly, sustainable techniques become prominent aspects of social, economic, manufacturing and environmental concerns, which are focused on the preservation of natural resources and improvement of existing practices. The principles of sustainability have been implemented in numerous fields, such as design, manufacturing or engineering. Largely, the contemporary manufactures are concerned with sustainable development, since the very paradigm of the manufacturing mechanisms is changing. The awareness of the connection between manufacturing and environment leads to further application of sustainable practices to renovate the system. This report aims to describe new manufacturing processes, discuss nature of sustainable development practices and their implementation in the system of renovated manufacturing as well as analyze the potential influences of such changes on businesses and environment.
The Difference between Conventional and Sustainable Manufacturing Practices
The implementation of sustainable manufacturing practices is a continuous, complex and diverse process, as it has to take into account many external and internal factors that have an influence on the application. Particularly, it is important to consider the role of modern technologies, environmental stewardship, social context of development, health conditions of employees and community, governmental impact, legal policies and regulations, civil expectations and many others (Galeazzo & Klassen 2015). As a result, the implementation of sustainable practices may involve rethinking of the entire conventional manufacturing strategy and may require the introduction of qualitative changes in its structure.
In the past, the conventional manufacturing focused mainly on the scope of production, in the first turn, considering the measures of volume and variety of items (Dubey, Gunasekaran & Chakrabarty 2015). Such composition of manufacturing process was oriented toward profitability and productivity, rather than toward long-term consequences of the production. As a result, traditional manufacturing lacked the essential awareness for sustainability and neglected the link between production and environment (Adebanjo, Teh & Ahmed 2016). Such strategy remained effective for a short period until an urgent need for the introduction of sustainable practices occurred. The inefficiency of traditional manufacturing has been modified with the help of sustainable engineering, which aims at the conscious approach toward the utilization of natural resources and safe production.
Starting from the 1980s, the principles and ideas of sustainable practices have been investigated and researched (Venkatesh & Luthra 2016). In particular, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has announced sustainable engineering as an optimal industrial solution for the manufacturing practices, due to remarkable results in terms of both profits and security (Venkatesh & Luthra 2016). Currently, the application of sustainable practices presupposes renovation of benchmarking procedures, change in process of production, promotion of eco-innovations, and preparation of new technological and material background (Alayón, Säfsten & Johansson 2016). The main objectives of such shifts consist in the necessity to solve global challenges set before the manufacturers in the light of economic and environmental tendencies.
Focus on sustainable engineering has led to the emergence of new manufacturing strategies, which have rethought the conventional demand for products, processes and practices (Ortiz‐de‐Mandojana & Bansal 2015). Respectively, it is possible to talk about the new methods of manufacturing framework. To start with, sustainable practices have changed product requirements. Thus, modern manufacturers have to consider environmental impacts of production as well as end products of utilization (Adebanjo, Teh & Ahmed 2016). In order to measure the efficiency of products, manufacturers apply the method of life cycle analysis and design for environment (Dubey, Gunasekaran & Chakrabarty 2015). With the help of those tools, it becomes possible to identify the environmental effect of the products, check the conditions of their maintenance and usage as well as predict potential dangers and threats, connected with their utilization.
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Sustainable practices have also changed the structure of the very process of manufacturing. Contemporary manufacturers treat the process as an individual eco-system, trying to reuse all elements and eliminate the waste to the greatest extent possible. Modern manufacturing focuses on such goals as reduce, reuse, recycle and remanufacture in order to guarantee a positive impact on the environment and eradicate all possible harmful effects of the production process on nature. In its turn, such an approach to the manufacturing process demands corresponding technologies and capacities, developed and supported by sustainable practices (Roosa 2016). Pollution prevention, waste reuse, material flexibility, sustainable design and modernization of the equipment are a few examples (Langendahl, Cook & Potter 2016). Altogether, these methods help renovate the process of manufacturing and provide new capacities to harmless and effective production.
Furthermore, implementation of sustainable practices in manufacturing results in the increased obsession with the products’ quality and efficiency. Such methods as benchmarking, performance measurement, ISO quality certifications and others help maintain the appropriate quality of the products and set relevant standards and criteria for evaluation (Dubey, Gunasekaran & Chakrabarty 2015). As a result, manufacturing practices gain new prominence and execution what positively influences the environment and meets social expectations.
Finally, sustainable engineering has changed the vision of management and workplace culture by introducing new values, objectives and business strategies. For example, the management of sustainable engineering calls for the formation of separate department that will deal with environmental stewardship and execution. This, in its turn, leads to a new distribution of work duties and obligations among employees and employers (Langendahl, Cook & Potter 2016). Overall, the new approach to manufacturing process allows facilitating the relationship between production and environmental impact as well as coordinating the procedures and tools with the help of new ethical paradigm and cultural background.
Role of Sustainable Practices in Addressing Manufacturing Challenges
The implementation of sustainable manufacturing practices can assist in overcoming serious challenges faced by humanity. The most urgent one is the elimination of the risk of global climate change (greenhouse effect and global warming) by following eco-friendly and protective approach in manufacturing (De Stefano, Montes-Sancho & Busch 2016). Therefore, sustainable practices in manufacturing presuppose the usage of safe materials, elimination of industrial waste and recycling during the entire process of production. Correspondingly, such structure of sustainable development process helps resist the global challenge connected to anthropomorphic activities in the industrial sphere.
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The second critical challenge in manufacturing is connected with economic condition and financial background. Regular economic crises and regressions witness the imperfection of existing production methods. Implementation of sustainable engineering in manufacturing helps maximize productivity by modernizing the technological aspect of manufacturing and reducing the amount of industrial waste (Alayón, Säfsten & Johansson 2016). Moreover, the application of contemporary sustainable practices is supported government and investors, becoming another source of profits for manufacturers. From this point of view, implementation of sustainable practices assists in tackling economic regression and ensures the economic power and competitiveness of businesses.
The above-mentioned changes in the manufacturing present many challenges to be considered and solved in the nearest future. Particularly, one of the key questions is usage of technology and its impact on the environment. Evidently, technological equipment strongly contributes to the fruitfulness of the manufacturing process, though it can present certain threats. For example, the issues that currently arise are the relationship between technology and environment, the life cycle and utilization of technology, technological waste, ambiguity on human labor and technology (Langendahl, Cook & Potter 2016). Nowadays, the above-mentioned issues form the field of interest of many industrial manufacturers, including European Eureka program, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences in the US, and Ecofactory in Japan (Bhushan 2015). The manufacturers conclude that this challenge can be solved with the help of relevant sustainable measurements, assessments of technology and elimination of harmful materials in their structures.
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In addition, the need for the implementation of sustainable practices in manufacturing can be explained increase in ethical concerns and dilemmas connected with the treatment of the environment. Particularly, it is important to mention that new ethical approach to the environment requires tolerant and protective attitude towards the nature, regardless the sphere of human activities. From this standpoint, the application of sustainable engineering reflects the ideas and expectations of the society, eliminating the gap between manufacturers and consumers (Alayón, Säfsten & Johansson 2016). In these terms, the sustainable engineering in manufacturing allows overcoming ethical challenges, which gain special attention under modern social circumstances and context of development.
Another challenge in manufacturing is connected with the productivity of existing production facilities and its practices. In reality, traditional work methods are time- and material-consuming, meaning they demand special treatment and performance. However, introduction of sustainable engineering provides a holistic approach to the manufacturing process, ensuring complex coverage of production stages and elements (Bhushan 2015). As a result, the companies get a sufficient statistical, informational and evaluative tools and methods for the management and work performance.
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To sum up, the report witnesses the importance of integrating sustainable engineering in manufacturing process due to a number of important reasons and benefits. In the first turn, sustainable practices are the essential unit of industrial development, aimed to protect the environment and eliminate industrial waste. Analogically, sustainable engineering is an optimal solution for the minimization of expenses and modernization of manufacturing processes and procedures. Finally, sustainable engineering can be viewed as a brand new approach to manufacturing that largely reduces the amount of waste and contributes to the appropriate work maintenance and performance.
The implementation of sustainable practices allows overcoming significant challenges, connected with economic and environmental threats posed before modern manufactures. Largely, they help overcome the negative effects of global warming and prevent the amplification of climate change. Similarly, sustainable engineering allows manufacturers modernize their equipment and implement more secure and beneficial ways of production. Overall, the usage of sustainable techniques in manufacturing is the solution for many existing social and environmental problems.