How Can Manufacturers Become More Sustainable

Why is Sustainability so Important for Manufacturers

The AIAG Virtual Corporate Responsibility Summit

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) is hosting a Virtual Corporate Responsibility Summit on April 28. Leading automotive manufacturers will come together to promote sustainable supply chain practices.

The AIAG sets automotive industry standards, for all Tier 1 suppliers, including the advanced product quality planning (APQP) and production part approval process (PPAP).

Consumers and Manufacturers Care About Sustainability

sustainable manufacturing aps

Sustainable practices are becoming an important part of the supply chain strategy. Consumers care about sustainability. A research study featured in Forbes showed that “88% will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues”. Another study conducted by Brandwatch found that only 7% of consumers prioritized sustainability when selecting a car brand. What accounts for this discrepancy? People may not be willing to pay a heavy premium for sustainable products. But they will pay a smaller premium to engage with organizations that have strong sustainability branding.

Manufacturers also care about sustainability. Automotive manufacturing requires large quantities of plastics, rubber, glass, steel, and other products. These products are expensive to source and difficult to recycle or dispose of. Additionally, it takes a huge amount of fossil fuel energy to move, process, and assemble these materials into vehicles.

Sustainable manufacturing reduces waste, increases efficiency, and drives down the cost of production. In other words, sustainability can be a competitive advantage. Conserving natural resources is also the right thing to do. Many automotive manufacturers are taking a proactive role in taking care of our planet.

Conserving and Protecting Clean Water Through Optimized Production Planning & Scheduling

One key topic at the AIAG Corporate Responsibility Summit is the protection of our clean water resources. Water is utilized in the automotive paint shop in its raw state, as well as in solvents, to flush paint lines. The solvents are expensive to process. For this reason they are often disposed of improperly and contaminate our drinking water. One way that water and solvents can be conserved is to reduce the amount of times the paint lines have to be flushed.

The paint lines have to be flushed any time you change from painting with a dark color to a light color. Take for example a dark color like blue and a light color like white. If you just finished painting one car blue and the next car needs to be painted white, then you need to flush the paint lines. If you don’t flush the paint lines, the blue pigment residue in the paint lines will mix with the white paint and alter the final color. On the other hand, if you change the paint from one dark color to another dark color, you don’t have to flush the paint lines. By eliminating the need for a changeover, this reduces the use of water and solvents. It also reduces the downtime associated with changeovers and increases efficiency.

Therefore, the key to conserving water and solvents is color blocking. Color blocking is when you paint the cars with a similar color back to back. This allows you to reduce color changeovers. Unfortunately, arranging the production sequence to prioritize color blocking is not always possible. The sequence is determined by many different production rules and color blocking is just one. Tradeoffs have to be made between production rules and this is best done by a powerful advanced planning and scheduling (APS) software. This software can reduce changeovers while observing other production rules.

Conserving Human Resources by Reducing Stress with APS

Reduce Physical Strain by Smoothing Production

Another important resource we must conserve is our workers. By smoothing production we allow our workers to work at an even, sustainable pace. This reduces their stress and allows them to be more productive.

Today, most car buyers like to accessorize their cars with an assortment of different features. One popular add-on is the moonroof. Moonroof installation is very physically demanding for assembly line operators. It also takes much longer for workers to install a moonroof than other features. This is a challenge because the production line in automotive facilities runs at a set rate.

Workers must sprint every time they have to install a moonroof to prevent the line from stopping. When workers install back to back moonroofs they become exhausted and make mistakes. This can lower the quality of the product. If there are enough back to back installations, the workers cannot keep up. The line is stopped and the factory experiences expensive downtime.

Reduce The Time It Takes to Produce A Feasible Production Schedule

The goal is to reduce the back to back the installation of labor-intensive features. This is a difficult task for the schedulers. They are already managing dozens of scheduling rules, like minimizing color changeovers.

Most schedulers work in Excel while others use APS software that only offers visibility or drag and drop functionality. These tools do not help schedulers account for all of the different production constraints. The result is that scheduling takes a long time. When the schedule is implemented on the shop floor, it falls apart. The line stops and the schedulers have to work at a feverish pace to fix the schedule.

What the schedulers need is a constraint-based, optimization driven APS software. They need a system that can generate a high-quality sequence that can be executed as-is on the production floor.

Take A Step Towards Sustainable Manufacturing with Optessa

Optessa is helping four Fortune 100 automotive manufacturers achieve these sustainability initiatives. These manufacturers are all part of AIAG and have deployed Optessa’s APS software globally. Contact us today to see how we can help you make a difference.

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