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The Industrial Green Game: Implications for Environmental Design and Management
Xerox's asset management program is focused on selling photocopying services instead of photocopies. Asset recycling is now part of a new business process that includes an asset-recycling management organization. Xerox is decoupling manufacturing volume from turnover and profits, regionalizing activities, and changing skill pools and employee responsibilities accordingly.
A reduction in the flows of matter through the economy can be achieved by decreasing the volume of flow (through innovative multifunctional products and a more intensive use of products and system solutions) or by slowing the speed of flow (e.g., through the remanufacturing and remarketing of goods to extend product use) (Figure 1).
Slowing the speed of flow is a feasible proposition for all countries. However, developing countries will need to increase the volume of their resource flow for economic development and to build basic infrastructure. Industrialized countries can achieve sustainability by slowing down resource flows.
STRATEGIC AND ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES
In contrast to the manufacturing economy, economic success in the sustainable service economy does not arise from mass production but from good husbandry and stewardship. Economic rewards come from minimizing tasks needed to transfer a product from one user to the next. Local reuse after a quality check or repair by the manager's representative is the smallest possible cycle in Figure 1 and the most profitable strategy. A product that can no longer be commercialized (i.e., rented or used) will be remanufactured and upgraded, or, in the worst case, be dismantled with the aim of reusing its components for new products.
To achieve the smallest cycles, a different economic and organizational mindset is necessary in several areas:
The industrial structure for manufacturing and remanufacturing activities will have to be unified and regionalized. Location of these activities will have to be closer to the market assets, and this proximity means handling smaller (re-) manufacturing volumes. Appropriate methods for such purposes will have to be developed and higher-skilled labor will be required. The cost for such a change is offset by dramatic reductions in purchases of materials and the virtual elimination of disposal costs.
Products will have to be designed as technical systems that are part of predesigned modular master plans. Such plans will facilitate ease of maintenance and ease of out-of-sequence disassembly by workers or robots.
Components will have to be designed for remanufacturing and technological upgrading according to the commonality principle. This principle was first used by Brown Boveri Company in the 1920s to design its revolutionary turbocompressors. It has been perfected by Xerox in the 1990s in the design of its copiers. The commonality principle promotes standardized multiproduct function-specific components that are interchangeable