Every manufacturing company should be aware of the amount of waste they produce. Waste can be produced in many different areas of the company, depending on the manufacturing sector they operate in and the product or service they provide.
Considering the environmental impacts of certain types of waste, and the financial effects it could have on a company, minimising the amount of waste produced should be a priority for any manufacturing company going forward.
One of the most obvious ways to reduce waste, regardless of the industry a company operates in, is to move towards a paperless business. Traditional office operations required a lot of paperwork. However, with the development of computers and a move from paper communication to electronic, the amount of paper has been significantly reduced. There are still other steps which can be taken to reduce paper usage.
For every business, things come up throughout the day which you need to be noted down. Notepads are an easy way to do this, but they are also a heavy contributor to paper waste. Introducing a culture of taking notes electronically through apps on computers or tablets is a great way to do this.
Manufacturing companies are subject to a large number of meetings during the day. During these meetings, agendas and notes are often passed to all in attendance before the meeting starts. Making these documents electronic, and sending them via email, along with asking people not to print them, is a straightforward way to reduce paper usage. Regardless of how much paper your business uses, having the appropriate recycling bins in place to allow any paper to be recycled is crucial.
More efficient manufacturing to minimize waste
Depending on the industry, some manufacturing companies can significantly reduce their waste by moving to a more efficient form of manufacturing. Wire EDM (electrical discharge machining) is a great way to reduce the amount of waste when manufacturing intricate products or components compared to traditional methods.
By using wire EDM to create a desired shape, the whole process can be completed in one action, and this produces less waste. Furthermore, as wire EDM uses an electrical discharge to make small impressions, it does not create stress distortions in the material. This allows the quality of the material to be maintained and reduce the risk of material needing to be disposed of if it becomes too damaged.
From a financial point of view, wire EDM also represents a good manufacturing option. With no heat treatment or post machining clean up needed, costs can be controlled, and while the initial cost may be higher than other machining methods, you can be sure the money is being spent on the key part of the process.
Packaging and transportation of goods
Another common area of waste for manufacturing companies comes in packaging and transportation of what they produce. Packaging materials can contribute significantly to the overall waste associated with a product. When your product arrives at its destination, the packaging material is often thrown away, sometimes without any consideration to recycling possibilities. Furthermore, large amounts of packaging will also increase the costs for the manufacturing company.
The ideal solution is to package the product with as little material as possible while ensuring it is protected. Also, using recycled materials in the packaging is beneficial to the environment, so using internal packaging such as air packs where the plastic can be recycled again is a positive step.
The other advantage of lowering the amount of packaging used is that it allows for more units to be transported at one time. This means that trucks or lorries can carry more of a product and potentially deliver more items during the day. This can increase the overall productivity of a delivery system and can lead to increased revenue for the company.
Fuel is another area manufacturing companies can often waste during transportation. Inefficient driving and engine idling are key contributors to heavy fuel usage and waste. Ways to combat this include improved driver training and vehicle tracking.
By reducing fuel wastage, companies can not only save money which can be used elsewhere in the business, but they can improve their environmental impact. Manufacturing companies often have sustainability plans, and fuel usage is always a key area to improve.
Overall, there are many ways manufacturing companies can reduce their waste. The areas noted above are just some of the main ones, but improvements can be made in all areas of the company. It often only takes a dedicated member of staff to look at the operations closely, and maybe think outside the box a little, to come up with other ways waste can be minimised.
Interesting related article: “The US lags behind other developed nations when it comes to recycling waste.”