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Lean & Environment Toolkit: Chapter 6

Conclusion and Implementation Strategies

Summary of Key Points in the Toolkit

Lean practitioners have an opportunity to realize greater business value by learning to see and eliminate environmental waste in Lean initiatives.

Environmental wastes, such as pollution and wasted raw materials, can carry large financial burdens, create health and safety hazards, and require time-consuming support activities.

Effective integration of Lean and environmental management efforts can allow organizations to avoid risks from non-compliance with regulatory requirements, as well as to discover new ways to improve operational and environmental performance.

The Lean and environment strategy outlined in this toolkit includes five main components:

  1. Commit to eliminate environmental waste through Lean implementation.
  2. Recognize new improvement opportunities by incorporating EHS icons and data into value stream maps.
  3. Involve staff with EHS expertise in planning for and implementing Lean events on processes with environmental opportunities.
  4. Find and drive out environmental wastes in specific processes by asking key questions and using new process-improvement tools.
  5. Empower and enable workers to eliminate environmental wastes in their work areas through training, 6S (5S+Safety) workplace evaluation checklists, and colored tags to identify EHS hazards and issues.

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Toolkit Implementation Strategies

So how can you put the ideas in this toolkit to use? While there is no single right way to proceed, lessons from organizations that have successfully bridged their Lean and environmental initiatives provide some implementation strategies that can maximize opportunities for improved Lean and environmental performance. Consider the ideas below and think about how they could be adapted to meet the needs and context of your organization.

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1. Begin the Dialogue

If your organization has dedicated personnel who are responsible for Lean implementation and for environmental, health, and safety management, organize a meeting. Even a brief discussion can open the door to identifying shared interests and opportunities for collaboration. Discuss a plan for building a relationship between Lean and environmental improvement efforts over time. Set a tone for collaboration—having Lean and EHS managers working together typically enhances the results of both Lean and environmental initiatives.

Improved Lean & Environmental Performance (Figure 1)

2. Cross-Train Lean and EHS Leaders

Taking a few steps to understand each others’ language can go a long way. Invite EHS personnel to participate in Lean trainings and events to introduce them to Lean principles and techniques. Periodic meetings between EHS managers and Lean champions or value stream managers can help those involved in Lean efforts better understand when and where to seek EHS technical assistance and how to identify environmental wastes. Mentioning environmental wastes in Lean training presentations is another good initial step (see Chapter 2).

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3. Test and Pilot Lean and EHS Integration Techniques

Experiment with one or more of the Lean and EHS integration strategies and tools presented in this toolkit. While it may make sense to start testing techniques at the organizational and value stream levels (see Chapters 2 and 3) to help identify synergies and opportunities, it is possible to experiment with the techniques in this toolkit in almost any order. Start by testing one or two tools in a single event or area of the plant. Evaluate how well they worked. Adapt them to fit into your organizational systems and culture. Move on to experiment with other tools.

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4. Scale-Up Lean and Environment Integration

Once you have tested and piloted various techniques for improving Lean and environmental results, adapt and use the techniques throughout your organization. Consider applying Lean methods to improve the performance of EHS functions, ranging from regulatory compliance management and reporting systems to chemical and waste management processes. Explore opportunities to incorporate environmental considerations into Lean process and product design activities. Convene Lean and EHS leaders to discuss other potential areas of collaboration for improving organization results and competitive advantage.

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Case Study: 3M Corporation (Box 17)

The Lean and Environment Journey

This toolkit represents the beginning of an exciting journey. As customer and societal expectations around environmental performance and sustainability continue to increase, Lean initiatives offer compelling opportunities to improve both economic and environmental performance. We hope that this toolkit spurs creative thinking and energy within your organization and encourages you to explore these opportunities.

We also hope to learn from your experiences using this toolkit. Working with partner companies and organizations, we aim to periodically release new versions of the Lean and Environment Toolkit. Our hope is to refine the techniques presented, to provide examples and case studies of their application, and to address new techniques not covered.

We wish you success on your Lean and environmental improvement journey.

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Your Thoughts on the Toolkit

Now that you have finished this toolkit, reflect on what you read by answering these questions:

  • What strategies and tools in the toolkit seemed particularly interesting and useful?
  • What steps will you take next to improve Lean and EHS integration at your organization?
  • What Lean or other process improvement methods (e.g., TPM, 3P, Six Sigma, policy deployment, etc.) do you think might have good opportunities for improved Lean and environment performance?
  • What other information and tools would assist your organization to improve its Lean and environment performance?

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Toolkit Navigation

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