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Comment PDF Environment, Health, Safety & Security

May Letters

By Ed Anderson, President, Lean Implementation Services of Florida |

LEAN Chemical Manufacturing There has been a great deal of new activity around so-called lean thinking or the lean enterprise lately, even though the practical application has been going on since the early 1900s. It was started by Henry Ford, and followed on by Edwards Deming and Taiichi Ohno. These three were relentless foes against waste. If the chemical process industries (CPI) were to implement lean to the fullest extent, one vision might look like this: Reaction kinetics would not go away, but there would be a profound diminishing of all other unit operations. Why? Because we would control our reactions at the molecular level, and by this I mean one molecule at a time, just as the lean approach proposes that the most efficient and fast work process is one-piece-flow. Instead of large batches of chemical molecules going into large reactors in chemical plants, usually far removed from their customers, we would react one molecule with another in micro-chemical plants to produce exactly the new molecule that each customer needs for its operation. Why is this important? First, there would be little, if any waste from these micro-operations. The unit operation of waste management or minimization could literally go away. Think of the…
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