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Enhancing the process of environmental improvement in manufacturing industry
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering.
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

To enable competitive industrial production, it is crucial to understand how to design and operate competitive production systems. Today, much operations management research focuses on the environmental dimension of sustainable manufacturing. Even though the environmental impact of industrial and commercial activities has become more vivid and severe, evidence points to a slow diffusion of industry-led ideas and actions for improving the environmental performance. It seems as if the manufacturing industry is still in the beginning of the process towards designing and operating environmentally benign production systems. However, increasing raw material and energy prices as well as potential penalties for lacking compliance provide cost related incentives for manufacturing companies to reduce their environmental impacts. Since production typically determines several environmental impacts such as exploitation of resources, contamination of soil, water and air, generation and emission of greenhouse gases etc., an important opportunity to reduce the environmental impact is found within a company’s production activities. In this, environmental issues can be viewed as either constraints or opportunities for competition. Companies can choose to adopt different positions ranging on a continuum from re-active behaviour, merely complying with environmental laws and regulations, to pro-active positions where competitive advantages are sought for. Either way, the increased environmental concern requires manufacturing companies to develop strategies, technologies and practices that will reduce the environmental impact from production.

This research focuses on the process of environmental improvement applied by companies within the manufacturing industry and aims to explore the current state as well as develop support for enhancing this process. By collecting and analysing the empirical and theoretical findings, common barriers facing the companies in their strive to reduce the environmental impact from production as well as enabling factors, supporting the progress towards increased environmental performance have been identified. Based on an analysis of the current state one example of a link of challenges impeding the process of environmental improvement has been identified. The identified link of causes and effects shows a path towards a reactive improvement approach when dealing with environmental issues in production. In order to reach a more proactive state this link had to be broken. A general pattern describing the stages from a reactive to a proactive approach was identified, indicating that an increased understanding of and commitment to environmental issues were crucial parameters in order to succeed. Based on the findings, a number of requirements for enhancing the process of environmental improvement in production were derived. It was concluded that developing a support in terms of an improvement process was one way of improving the current state. Using an existing visual structure as a baseline a process for Green Performance Mapping was developed in cooperation with the studied companies. Ultimately, the suggested process was evaluated against the stated requirements and suggested as a support for enhancing the process of environmental improvement in production within the manufacturing industry, thereby contributing to reducing the environmental impact from production.

Abstract [sv]

Den senaste tidens debatt kring hållbarhet och miljö har gjort att många företag fått upp ögonen för att omsorg om miljön har blivit allt viktigare för kunden. Fokus som tidigare legat på att reagera på lagar och förordningar har ändrats till en insikt att ett framgångsrikt miljöarbete även kan generera konkurrensfördelar. Miljöarbetet kan generera värde till verksamheten genom ökad kundnytta samtidigt som även direkta kostnadsbesparingar kan uppnås genom att skapa resurseffektiva processer. Ur ett svenskt perspektiv har processindustrin legat i framkant framförallt gällande energieffektivisering, medan fordonsindustrin haft fokus på att förbättra produktens miljöprestanda under användarfasen (främst genom bränslesnålare motorer). Forskningen som presenteras i denna licentiatuppsats tar dock ett lite annorlunda perspektiv och tittar djupare på hur fordonsbranschen arbetar med miljöförbättringar i sina produktionssystem.

En explorativ studie av tre ledande företag har genomförts. Flertalet faktorer som hindrar företagen från att uppnå ett effektivt miljöarbete kan identifieras. Exempelvis är ofta endast ett begränsat antal medarbetare är inkluderade i miljöarbete, miljöarbete uppfattas som komplext, fokus är många gånger på andra faktorer såsom kostnad och kvalitet. Slutligen anses det existerande miljöledningssystemet (ISO 14001) inte ge tillräckligt stöd för ett effektivt förbättringsarbete. En analys visar att risken är stor att dessa faktorer leder till ett reaktivt förhållningssätt till miljöarbete, där förbättringar främst genomförs när problem redan uppstått. Även faktorer som underlättar miljöarbete kan identifieras. Exempel på dessa är att en viss integration av miljöarbete i befintlig produktionsfilosofi (lean-produktion) gjorts, att miljöexperter finns att tillgå inom företaget och initiativ såsom att utbildning av miljöambassadörer i linjeorganisationen påbörjats. Genom att fortsätta i denna riktning kan liknande initiativ bidra till att uppnå ett proaktivt förhållningssätt. Som ett led i detta menar författaren att ökad delaktighet, där alla medarbetare kan bidra i arbetet med miljöförbättringar, är en viktig del. För att uppnå ett proaktivt förhållningssätt är en ökad miljömedvetenhet och även förståelse för hur var och en kan bidra till miljöarbetet viktiga steg på vägen.

För att skapa en effektivare process för miljöarbete inom fordonsindustrin bör processen baseras på principerna för lean-produktion, harmonisera med ISO 14001, bidra till ett proaktivt förhållningssätt, erbjuda en strukturerad process och slutligen möjliggöra bedömande av produktionssystemets miljöprestanda. Med dessa kriterier som grund har ett stöd för effektivt miljöarbete ur ett produktionsperspektiv tagits fram Den kallas Green Performance Mapping och består av fem steg; förberedelse, identifiering av miljöaspekter, prioritering, beslut om åtgärder, implementering och till sist utvärdering av resultatet. Genom att  involvera samtliga aktörer i produktionsorganisationen i miljöarbetet bidrar Green Performance Mapping till ett proaktivt miljöarbete, något som i sin tur ligger till grund för att minska produktionssystemets miljöpåverkan.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University , 2012.
Series
Mälardalen University Press Licentiate Theses, ISSN 1651-9256 ; 154
Keywords [en]
Lean production, Environmental management, Manufacturing industry, Improvement process, Employee involvement involvement, and Explorative case study
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-14535ISBN: 978-91-7485-072-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-14535DiVA, id: diva2:524035
Presentation
2012-06-11, Filen, Smedjegatan 37, Mälardalens högskola, Eskilstuna, 15:46 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Green production Systems
Funder
XPRES - Initiative for excellence in production researchAvailable from: 2012-05-14 Created: 2012-04-27 Last updated: 2012-12-21Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Green Performance Map:  An Industrial Tool for Enhancing Environmental Improvements within a Production System
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Green Performance Map:  An Industrial Tool for Enhancing Environmental Improvements within a Production System
2011 (English)In: Glocalized Solutions for Sustainability in Manufacturing - Proceedings of the 18th CIRP International Conference on Life Cycle Engineering, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer , 2011, p. 353-358Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Empirical findings indicate a need of support for environmental management within the manufacturing industry for improving the environmental performance of their production systems. This paper elaborates on a generic, three step visualization tool, here called Green Performance Map (GPM). The GPM adds to the framework of ISO 14001, providing the user with a systematic procedure to visualize environmental performance in order to facilitate the identification, prioritization and communication of relevant environmental aspects. The results are based on theoretical studies and an extensive case study at a Swedish automotive company. Pilot tests indicate a vast potential for the GPM tool.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, 2011
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-13869 (URN)10.1007/978-3-642-19692-8_61 (DOI)2-s2.0-80052136030 (Scopus ID)978-3-642-19692-8 (ISBN)
Conference
18th CIRP International Conference on Life Cycle Engineering: Glocalized Solutions for Sustainability in Manufacturing;Braunschweig;2 May 2011 through 4 May 2011
Projects
xpres
Funder
XPRES - Initiative for excellence in production research
Available from: 2011-12-27 Created: 2011-12-27 Last updated: 2014-01-10Bibliographically approved
2. Competitiveness by integrating the green perspective in production: A review presenting challenges for research and industry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Competitiveness by integrating the green perspective in production: A review presenting challenges for research and industry
2010 (English)In: Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing (FAIM 2010), 2010, p. 318-325Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Environmental concern has risen as an important topic in management research as well as within the manufacturing industry. The realization that environmental sustainability should be viewed from a value-adding perspective and not only from a regulatory or cost perspective has implied a dramatic change of focus when creating competitive strategies. In production system research, some argue that green is the next great leap after lean, and many publications on the synergies and contradictions of lean and green have been published. This paper aims at high-lighting relevant topics related to environmental sustainability within a production system from the view of academia as well as industry. A review of related research has been performed together with an orienting empirical study of three companies in Sweden. The result reveals that the holistic view is often lost due to trade-offs and uncertainty, implying that incorporating environmental sustainability in an organization becomes difficult. This indicates that there is a growing need for methodology and decision support tools for integrating the green perspective at all levels of the production system. The concepts of continuous improvements and “lean and green” are identified as favorable options to succeed with this integration, implying important areas for future research.

Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-10163 (URN)
Conference
Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing (FAIM 2010)
Projects
Green Production Systemsxpres
Funder
XPRES - Initiative for excellence in production research
Available from: 2010-08-19 Created: 2010-08-19 Last updated: 2013-12-04Bibliographically approved

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