The Best Supply Chain Ideas for a Greener Planet

SupplyChainBrain recently ran a good article on Ten Steps to Optimizing Your Supply Chain for a Greener Planet that had ten (10) great ideas for making your supply chain more sustainable. However, the following ideas, sometimes overlooked, are the ones that will really green your supply chain.

  • Demand-Driven Production

    If you really want to be planet-friendly, the first thing you have to do is stop producing excessive amounts of waste — and if you’re wasting valuable resources to produce product that ends up in the trash, that’s end-to-end waste.

  • Network Planning

    Worry about how you are going to get your product or service to your customer before you start production, not after. Then you’ll realize that it’s not necessarily cheaper or better to produce your product halfway across the world and then ship it by air. And you’ll realize that it’s not always easy to find the right carrier at the last minute. If the only carrier available to truck your product at the last minute is one that uses lanes through a central distribution centre (DC) half-way across the country, that’s not green.

  • Quality Improvement

    If you shift from low-cost to high-quality, and produce items that last for decades or years, instead of years or months, you reduce the amount of waste going to landfills every year. And it is possible, even in consumer electronics where better models come out every year and everyone feels the urge to upgrade. There’s no reason you can’t build to upgrade. Instead of building one integrated device, build a device modular so that an end consumer can easily plug and play a new memory module, processor, or battery — and settle on uniform form factors so that these plug and play modules can be recycled into lower end products that can still serve a functional use, especially in schools or developing nations. Product life spans can be tripled. And, if possible, shift unnecessary processing power “to the cloud” so that a thin client device can be used for decades. Oracle gets this. The Sun Ray III is expected to last 25 years!

  • Preventative Maintenance

    If you use predictive modelling and regular inspections and repair faulty parts before they cause a breakdown, your equipment will often last much longer, at a lower lifetime Total Cost of Ownership! This is as true of personal electronics (if a fan dies in your dual-fan laptop, replace it before the other dies and your core overheats and takes your machine with it) as it is of production line equipment.

  • Integrated Planning

    If everyone is on the same page, it’s more likely that your attempts to reduce waste will succeed. Otherwise, if you make a decision that doesn’t sit well with another department, and order a “wrong” part, you might end up wasting an entire shipment when the other department reorders the “right” part.

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