Green factory: 30 concrete ideas

What is a green factory?

In the days we are publishing this post is going on stage the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, scheduled in Glasgow (Scotland) from 31 October to 12 November 2021, under the UK presidency.

The expectation of this conference is that the parties will strive for more ambitious goals than those set by COP21. Under the Paris Agreement, the parties are required to conduct a review of their commitments every five years, a process commonly known as the “upside mechanism”.

However, while waiting for political leaders to do their part, it becomes necessary to undertake a path towards sustainability also in our realities, in our private sphere as well as in companies and factories.

To get more concrete, below you will find a series of 30 ideas for a green factory. We tried to qualitatively divide them into 3 parts:

  • Easy-to-implement ideas, meaning ideas that don’t require any special investment in terms of time, effort, or money
  • Ideas that require minimal investment of resources, be they understood as time, money or difficulty in making a change in our individual or business habits
  • Ideas that require greater effort in terms of economic resources, technical and managerial skills and time.

1. Easy to implement ideas for a green factory that don’t require investments

  • 1. When you leave the office, turn off your electronic devices, do not leave them on standby until the next day
  • 2. Replace the battery of your electronic devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) instead of changing the entire device and recycle it in the appropriate containers
  • 3. Encourage recycling of company waste. For many it is already an established habit, for still others it requires an effort to adapt to change
  • 4. In winter, lower the temperature of the offices and dress heavier
  • 5. In summer, do not lower the temperature of the office air conditioning too much. You can also propose different working hours, taking advantage of the cooler hours of the day
  • 6. Encourage home office. In addition to reducing transport pollution, you will consume less energy in the office for heating or air conditioning
  • 7. Encourage the management of virtual teams. As in the previous point, you will limit the need for travel or relocation by your employees or partners. Plus, you’ll be able to leverage skills otherwise unavailable in your work area
  • 8. Don’t use plastic bottles, use reusable aluminum bottles instead
  • 9. Wash your hands with cold water whenever possible. A simple gesture, but which on large numbers can lead to a not negligible energy saving
  • 10. Become an example for your colleagues (behave like a Leader) and make them aware of the importance of adopting sustainable behaviors

2. Ideas that require minimal investment of resources

  • 11. Reduce (or eliminate!) the consumption of meat in company canteens. It has been proven that the meat industry is among those with the greatest environmental impact. However, changing eating habits can be difficult, especially for communities where the consumption of meat is linked to the culinary tradition
  • 12. Encourage the consumption of local products in company canteens: you will thus reduce the transport of goods and help the economy of local producers
  • 13. Encourage sustainable mobility policies, such as car pooling, the use of bicycles, including ebikes, or the use of company buses to limit the impact of urban transport on the climate
  • 14. Uses intelligent lighting systems that can adjust the light intensity or turn off in the absence of people in the office and uses low energy consumption light bulbs or technologies
  • 15. Use remote assistance technologies to limit the movement of technicians when you need them. It is not always necessary to have a technician on site to receive assistance in the event of a system malfunction. Today there are smart solutions that use, for example, smart glasses, smartphones and tablets
  • 16. Encourages the use of digital documentation (paperless) and avoid printing paper documents unless strictly necessary. Work instructions, Kanban tags, technical drawings, specifications… all can be viewed without paper support
  • 17. Monitor the movements in the workshop of assets and semi-finished products using RTLS devices (real-time localiting systems) and minimize movements by optimizing logistics and plant layout
  • 18. Encourages training on sustainability and environmental issues, organizes specific courses to increase sensitivity and awareness on these issues
  • 19. If you really have to travel for work, use public transport or low-carbon transport (eg trains instead of planes)
  • 20. Create new figures such as the sustainability manager who can manage all these aspects. By reducing the company’s carbon footprint, you will not only help the ecosystem, but also the company’s pockets!

3. Ideas that require more investment and resources

  • 21. Encourage the use of renewable energy in the company, for example installing photovoltaic panels or using energy suppliers who adopt sustainable policies
  • 22. Make your plant more energy efficient: you can in fact improve insulation in your green factory through a series of specific measures
  • 23. Use SaaS (Server as a Service) solutions instead of installing servers in the company: servers must be powered and cooled 24 hours a day. The use of server farms, on the other hand, is a much more sustainable solution
  • 24. Improve the OEE of the plants: their greater use means less waste of resources
  • 25. Adopt systematic methodologies to reduce waste. For example, Lean Principles help to identify waste with a structured method and to implement corrective actions
  • 26. Reduce the waste of raw materials and resources by reducing scraps. The Six Sigma approach, for example, helps you reduce the variability in business processes
  • 27. Use sustainable industrial processes. For example, do not use polluting chemical processes in your green factory, use efficient and low environmental impact solutions
  • 28. Design your products for sustainability: choose biocompatible materials and adopt a circular economy for the entire life cycle of the product
  • 29. Use additive manufacturing whenever possible. This process helps to reduce the waste of excess material typical of subtractive production technologies
  • 30. Simulate production processes to optimize the production efficiency of plants, improve logistics and eliminate all associated waste before they occur

For more info, contact us to discuss more details.

Stay tuned.

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Nicola Accialini

Nicola Accialini

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Engineer, consultant, digital entrepreneur and traveller, not necessarily in this order | Italian, lived in Germany, now in Spain | www.accialiniconsulting.com