TitleMaking the business case for sustainable manufacturing in small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises: A systems decision making approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsZhang, H, Veltri, A, Calvo-Amodio, J, Haapala, KR
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Date Published01/2021

Understanding the dynamic relations of complex behaviors in manufacturing systems and actively engaging with manufacturers, especially small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMEs), in sustainability efforts is key to the long-term success of industry and the natural environment. This study addresses this urgent need by advancing the understanding of the dynamic linkages between environmental safety and health practices of SMMEs and their impacts on economic performance. It aims to make a business case for enhanced sustainability practices by establishing a systems framework to map and analyze the interconnections between technical, environmental, social, and economic performance metrics at the operation, shopfloor, and enterprise levels. The framework systemically integrates system dynamics and sustainability assessment methods including life cycle costing, life cycle assessment, and safety and health assessment. Realization of this framework through analytical tools enables manufacturing researchers and engineering managers to gain further understanding of the linkages among economic, environmental, and social activities in manufacturing systems. It also can guide sustainability practitioners in building business cases for making strategic and tactical decisions. A case study for a metal processing manufacturer was conducted to demonstrate the application of the framework and to test several hypotheses that emerged during the research. The case study corroborated the hypothesis that manufacturing sustainability decision making is enhanced if there is a greater understanding of the dynamic interconnections among the various aspects of sustainability. Based on the results of this research, manufacturers are provided with an integrated approach to transit from implementing reactive sustainability policies to developing systemic practices that will improve worker well-being, while achieving cleaner production at lower cost.

Short TitleJournal of Cleaner Production