Lean and Green

Logo Herman Miller LogoA few weeks ago I posted and article about design and sustainability on our company blog. I saw this article on TreeHugger the other day in the similar vein and after reviewing the headline I  thought there was a misprint.  How could a giant factory only generate 15 pounds of waster per month?  But in reading the article I was blown away but some of the facts that were included in it.

Herman Miller's GreenHouse Factory Generates 15 Pounds of Landfill Waste Per Month

  • About 45 million pounds of parts, materials and packaging come into the plant every year. Amount of waste sent to landfill every month: fifteen pounds.
  • 50% of the parts used are manufactured within 30 miles of the factory in Zeeland, Michigan
  • The "store" contains two hours worth of parts; each assembly line has a couple of minutes worth of parts. Trucks arrive from some suppliers as many as six times a day

This is a great example of how lean manufacturing works at its peak.

But the article also when on to talk about what employees do - how they work and how the environment is setup.  Something else that really stuck out to me was a picture that is included in the article or a huge skylight.  It is it obvious that the use of natural light helps with the electricity savings within the plant.  But the article goes on to say that as a result of the skylight

they save a fortune on electricity, productivity is higher and absenteeism is lower.

Being able to equate productivity and absenteeism to the way this facility is constructed is amazing.  I would love to see other examples of how this works with other companies. If you know of any please let me know.