A recent study from the National Association of Manufacturers found that the costs of major new manufacturing compliance
rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could run into hundreds of billions of dollars, Energy Biz reports. According to EPA estimates, the expenses associated with observing the manufacturing legislation
may amount to as much as $111.2 billion, while industry estimates put the figure higher
, at more than $138 billion.
With environmental protection standards becoming increasingly stringent—and, in turn, costly—many companies in the manufacturing industry are looking for ways to cut costs and boost efficiency without sacrificing the quality of their products. With this ambition in mind, a rising number of firms are embracing Lean manufacturing approaches and setting steep goals that go beyond merely complying with EPA regulations.
"Rather than paying lip-service to sustainability, or simply meeting environmental legislation at a minimum level, manufacturing companies should aim high and make significant reductions, especially since this brings benefits that are not only ecological but financial," wrote Phil Burge, country communication manager for Sweden-based ball bearing manufacturer SKF, in a recent piece
that he authored for Manufacturing Digital.How manufacturing software can further Lean goals
Lean manufacturing originated when Japanese carmaker Toyota was looking for ways to keep up with Western companies, despite the fact that Japan's economy was weak due to post-World War II reparations. The approach allowed Toyota to conserve its resources, maximize efficiency and reap big gains that made it a major player in the industry.
A core tenet of Lean involves mitigating waste. Waste can take myriad forms, including energy, unused materials, money, employee productivity and time. Manufacturers often realize significant increases in efficiency simply by reorganizing factory floor layouts to make their setups more conducive to the flow of production, and are able to dramatically reduce worker downtime by scheduling meetings, training sessions and other important events during dead time that would otherwise be wasted. If integrated properly and used to its maximum capacity, manufacturing software
has the potential to streamline inventory, accounting and management processes, generating significant time savings for companies that adopt the technology.
A number of benefits can be achieved as a result of integrating manufacturing software, including:
- Enhanced product quality
- Improved visibility of data and operations
- Reduced costs
- Heightened collaboration between employees, distributors, suppliers and vendors
- Better product quality
- Fewer instances of human error