MHI Solutions

Sustainability

PLATINUM REWARDS: REDUCING CARBON FOOTPRINT MAKES BOTTOM-LINE SENSE

Sustainability Is Providing a Competitive Edge and Adding Value Well Beyond Its Environmental Benefits

By Sarah B. Hood

I would argue that 2017 is the year of supply chain sustainability,” says Lisa Geason-Bauer, chief communications and sustainability officer for MHI member Eco-Latch Systems, makers of Box Latch Products. She point out that sustainability has become a key theme at venues from this year’s conference of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which she participates in, to the new Sustainable Facility Solution Center at ProMat 2017.

“Sustainability has been pigeonholed as a political thing, but it’s not,” she says. “It’s good for business all across the board. We’re in a globally competitive world, and Europe has much stricter environmental regulations. You have to think about what you’re doing to be competitive.”

“Companies are reacting now,” says Christopher Castaldi, VP of sales for the warehouse consulting and system integration firm and MHI member DMW&H. “There are enough data points that say the majority of the country believes it’s not just the bottom line; they will pay a little more for a company that has consideration for the environment.”

He says he doesn’t believe Europe is leaving the U.S. entirely behind on this front. “The only LEED-platinum net-zero energy distribution center is in the United States, so now Europe’s coming to look at what we’re doing. And look at Tesla. We need to continue raising the bar,” he says.

The LEED-platinum distribution center that Castaldi refers to is a remarkable facility designed from the ground up by the outdoor recreation co-operative REI. Conceived through a charrette process by numerous expert collaborators versed in areas from architecture to material handling and sustainability, it is almost a textbook in sustainable supply chain design.

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According to the recently released 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report, “Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Adoption,” eight out of ten survey respondents believe these supply chains will be the predominant model within just five years. However, the report found that the adoption of some of these technologies was slower than originally reported when MHI started the annual report in 2014. The report cites three top barriers to adoption of these technologies: 1. Making the business case for NextGen supply chain investments. 2. Tackling the supply chain skills gap and workforce shortage. 3. Building trust and security in digital, always-on supply chains. This issue of MHI Solutions focuses on the adoption of these digital solutions, from best practices in robotics and artificial intelligence to blockchain and innovations in last mile delivery.

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