Sustainable Manufacturing is a term circulating heavily right now among leadership in the automotive and consumer electronics industries. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.” In the context of electronics, sustainable manufacturing involves reduction of initial resources, reusing resources when possible, and responsible PLM practices such as proactive remanufacturing.
Green is Not Just a Niche Trend Anymore
Focus on better manufacturing practices is no longer a specific niche, but an essential and pervasive part of doing business across all sectors. Industry leaders are no longer incorporating sustainability on an ad hoc basis, but in a “coordinated, integrated and formal manner.” Eliminating electronic waste, reducing the carbon footprint and paying attention to responsible manufacturing practices in general are practices that have started to work their way into the mainstream. Customers now demand environmental stewardship more than they ever have before. OEMs have an especially pronounced environmental responsibility.
One piece of sustainable manufacturing is proactive remanufacturing. Similar to the concept of proactive health care, or perhaps preparing for a natural disaster, making the right preparations before emergencies hit ensures smoother processes, better availability of resources, a reduction in total costs, and a significant reduction in negative impacts. Being proactive about remanufacturing means automakers, auto electronics OEMs and makers of consumer electronics are paying more attention to the whole lifecycle of components at the outset of projects, in the RFQ phase. This type of planning reduces the need for production line retooling, reduces waste, and ensures the availability of components throughout a product’s lifecycle.
MERA, The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing - offers and promotes Manufactured Again Certification, where manufacturing and sustainable manufacturing are held to the same international quality standards.
Benefits of Sustainable Manufacturing
Sustainable practices and genuine concern for environmental impacts have become a brand differentiator. Companies engaged in sustainability efforts can enjoy tangible rewards including an increase in operational efficiency, reduction in waste, better regulatory compliance and brand loyalty benefits.