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Sustainable Manufacturing Approach Considers Human Element

ManufacturingSustainable manufacturing is an approach promoted by engineers at Oregon State University who have developed a new approach that begins on the factory floor. It then includes the total effects on the economy, environment and workers.

This approach, they say, builds on previous approaches that considered various facets of sustainability. The findings are published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

The researchers demonstrated the approach with the production of stainless steel knives, based on an industry project. But the general concepts could be replicated virtually anywhere.

The method considers manufacturing techniques, speed of the operations, environmental impacts, materials, energy used and wastes. Decisions can be based on compliance with laws and regulations, and the effects of different approaches on worker safety and satisfaction.

Social components have often been left out in the past because they were difficult aspects to quantify. This approach incorporates previous concepts of sustainability that have been found to have proven value, such as life cycle assessment of systems that considers the totality of energy used, environmental impacts and other issues, the researchers say.

Photo: USDA Flickr photostream

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