Resource Management for a Finite World

There are multiple types of industries but all produce goods/services of some type. All share the need for labor, materials, facilities, machines, tools, and energy. All interact in positive and negative ways with the ecosystems in which they operate. One of the byproducts of production is waste, a major point of societal contention and governmental regulation.

The other side of the transaction is the consumer purchasing the goods/services. Without cunsumer demand, production would cease, but worldwide demand is increasing. In growth counties such as China, a more affluent population is consuming ever greater resources, and a recovered world economy will exaserbate the problem. The United States, now economically a consumer society, will fail without sustained demand or supply.

The world is a finite sphere of eco-dependencies, filled with limited resources, multiple life forms, and endless possibilities. All systems create resource damage or waste in some form. There are earthquakes, forest fires, and a long list of other natural disasters. Humans dig holes, spread fertilizer, cut forests, use chemicals, and create pollution. These activities create waste and environmental destruction.

All manmade systems generate some form of pollution, such as carbon dioxide. Academics argue about the causes for global warming. The realist understands that dumping pollutants into a fixed space will eventually render it unusable, and finite resources of some types will run out.

Limited resources with increased demand create a paradox. How can humans produce and consume without destroying the environment? It appears that we have reached a lose-lose position without resolution. In spite of rhetoric, customers will continue to consume, and industry will provide goods and services. All will contribute to resource waste.

The answers are obvious and pragmatic.

Take responsibility for resource conservation and replenishment.
Take actions to increase productivity throughout the eco-dependencies, in the plant, at the office and at home.
Recognize the importance of convergence, integrating the business enterprise to increase speed but function in sync.
Reduce waste by buying from responsible suppliers while practicing cradle to grave recycling.
Spend money on developing technology to create new, more sustainable materials.
Build products designed/engineered/manufactrued for recycling.

Industry needs to utilize every resource friendly tool, while remaining viable. Profitable companies provide goods, services, and jobs, adding to the economic and ecological cycle of sustainability. When we learn these lessons, manufacturing in America has a chance at overcoming the social barriers, allowing it to create jobs and opportunities. We will find some level of equilibrium, and our technology provides a promise for discovering long-term solutions.

The toolbox to achieve business and resource optimization must include both producer and consumer.

Systems thinking needs to be inclusive while understanding the pragmatic application and its consequences to our actions.
Employ enlightened strategies that include adaptive practices based on business at the speed of reality.
Leadership must have the courage to take the right actions for their business while advocating for American industry.
Quality must return to the forefront of our actions and become pervasive for producers and consumers.
Use contemporary ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to plan and optimize resources. Purchase materials from responsible suppliers and convert them to products using green technologies.
Value Management Programs include Lean Six Sigma, TOC, and other process improvement programs. Use them to optimize resource usage and continuously reduce waste in every form.
Supply-Chain Management / Collaboration programs need to source from responsible, close-coupled operations to reduce transportation costs and cut polluting ocean traffic.
Producers and consumers need to advocate for government practices that allow domestic development of energy. This will reduce the transportation of oil on the world's waterways, our most precious natural resource.

Competitive America periodically features special photo essays, each designed to communicate an important concept, often the one's Americans have forgotten.

We are fortunate to have guest writers, such as Gary Gossard, President of IQR International, and Anne Haberkorn, an instructor at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin, deal with specific subjects applicable in the workplace.

Special subjects, such as Dr. Corina Norrbom's, "Is it good for the children," are welcome. She is addressing healthcare. This is not a blog and documents undergo review before posting. Divergent perspectives are welcome. The standard for publication is they must be relevant, factual, verifiable, and well written. Vulgarity, race or religion bashing are automatically rejected, but political correctness is not criteria. We do not editorialize about the contents.

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