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mfrtech - America's Business to Business Journal for Industry

America's Business to Business Journal for Industry

Purdue helps Indiana companies stay 'lean and clean'

The workshops are offered through a program funded by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The workshops, offered June 25 through Aug. 6 at locations throughout the state, focus on Lean and Clean manufacturing methods. More information including locations is available online at or by calling (765) 463-4749.

"Lean manufacturing methods remove waste, including wasted time, motion and raw materials," said Lynn A. Corson, director of Purdue's Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute. "Clean manufacturing methods also improve cost and efficiency, but add the examination of environmental impact. These workshops will help businesses save money and the environment."

Members of the Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute have helped facilities throughout Indiana with pollution prevention assistance since 1994, environmental management system services to businesses and governments since 2001 and energy audits since 2006. The institute pulls from Purdue's strengths in engineering, science and business.

Companies participating in the workshop will be eligible for a free one-day Lean and Clean assessment at their facility. Ten facilities will be selected to receive three days of in-depth technical assistance.

Ann Piechota, environmental specialist for the Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute, said manufacturers have been evaluating ways to reduce energy use due to the increasing utility prices.

"Because of the current energy situation there is a great deal of interest in re-evaluating the way a company operates to find ways to reduce consumption," she said. "The increasing costs of electricity and natural gas have had a significant impact on manufacturers."

Companies that have worked with CMTI in the past to improve production methods are interested in revisiting proposed ideas and exploring new methods to reduce waste and improve efficiency, Piechota said.

"This is an opportunity for improvement," she said. "Many companies have examined their process from a Lean perspective and this is a chance to take the next step toward optimal performance by focusing on environmental wastes using the Clean methods."

The concepts of Lean manufacturing focus on the use of manpower, raw materials and time, while Clean manufacturing adds "green" parameters into the cost-benefit analysis. Clean manufacturing methods take into account factors such as the use of water, electricity or hazardous materials, time and costs needed to manage them to comply with the regulations, Piechota said.

"Some of the solutions involve engineering, some use cutting-edge technologies, but some solutions are really simple," she said. "It is a different way of evaluating a problem and framing a solution. For example, instead of putting resources into building bigger pretreatment operations for wastewater, a company could use the resources to implement practices that reduce the wastewater produced. Some could be easy such as shutting a valve off, or adding a filter to make water last longer, and some could be more complex."

Clean manufacturing offers a rational basis for choosing the most cost-effective methods of reduction of environmental impact at each step in a process. The methods identify key elements of the processes that use or generate materials harmful to the environment, waste raw materials or produce significant hazardous waste.

In addition, steps are identified that pose significant occupational health risks to workers, require raw materials that are environmentally undesirable to manufacture, and use large quantities of raw materials or energy.

"The idea is to change a process and go beyond just the substitution of a material," she said. "Environmentally-friendly practices intrinsically focus on materials and energy, and these save money and time. It all overlaps with efficiency."

In addition to expert advice, the Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute maintains a coating applications research laboratory for examination of different surface coatings, curing equipment and ovens.

"If a company wants to try a new, less toxic paint, they can't shut a production line down," Piechota said. "We run tests for them to see if a new material meets their needs. In the lab we are able to mimic the conditions of a particular manufacturing facility."

The Clean Manufacturing Technology Institute was formerly the Indiana Clean Manufacturing Technology and Safe Materials Institute.

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