What ISO 14001 Status did for Cummins Inc.

Cummins manufactures engines and power generation products, and has been a household name almost since inception in 1919. It sells its products in over 300 countries, through approximately 6,000 dealerships employing 40,000 people. Because its product line runs off fossil fuel it is under steady pressure to display a cleaner carbon footprint.

Cummins decided to go for the big one by qualifying for ISO 14001 certification. This is a subset of a family of standards relating to managing environmental impact while complying with all applicable legislation. In this sense, it is similar to the ISO 9000 quality management system, because it focuses on how products are produced (as opposed to how those products perform). Compliance with ISO 14001 was a doubly important goal, because it is part of the European Union?s Eco Management and Audit Scheme and fast becoming mandatory on suppliers to governments.

The qualification process follows the well-established principle of plan, do, check, act. It begins with gap analysis to detect materials and processes that affect the environment. This is followed by implementation of necessary changes affecting operations, documentation, emergency strategies and employee education. The third step involves measuring and monitoring performance. Finally, the project moves into a phase of ongoing maintenance, and continuous improvement as circumstances change.

In Cummins case, the project was almost worldwide and called for environmental, health and safety reporting throughout the organisation. The information was shared via a globally accessible document repository, and then processed centrally at the head office in Columbia, Indiana USA.

Measuring environmental performance almost inevitably has other benefits that make it doubly worthwhile. Speaking at the 2014 National Safety Council Congress after receiving the top award for excellence, Cummins chairman and ceo Tom Linebarger commented on a journey that was ?nothing short of amazing? yet wasn’t even a ?pathway to the finish line?.

?All of us feel like we have way more to do to make sure that our environment is as safe as it could be,? he added, ?so that our sustainability footprint is as good as it can be and that we continue to set more aggressive goals every year. That’s just how we think about it.? Linebarger concluded.

If you are taking your company on a journey to new heights of environmental excellence, then you should consider choosing ecoVaro as your travelling companion. We are environmental management specialists and have proprietary software geared to process your data. We also have a wealth of experience, and a treasure chest of roadmaps to help you achieve your goal.

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The Matrix Management Structure

Organizations exploit matrix management in various ways. A company, for instance, that operates globally uses it at larger scale by giving consistent products to various countries internationally. A business entity, having many products, does not assign its people to each product full-time but assign those to different ones on a part time basis, instead. And when it comes to delivering high quality and low cost products, companies overcome industry pressures with the help of many overseeing managers. In a rapidly changing environment, organizations respond quickly by sharing information through a matrix model.

Understanding the Matrix Management Structure

A basic understanding of matrix management starts with the three key roles and responsibilities that applies in the structure.

  • Matrix Leader ? The common person above all the matrix bosses is the matrix leader. He ensures that the balance of power is maintained in the entire organization by delegating decisions and promoting collaboration among the people.
  • Matrix Managers ? The managers cooperate with each other by defining the respective activities that they are responsible for.
  • Matrix Employees – The employees have lesser direct authority but has more responsibilities. They resolve differing demands from more than one matrix managers while they work things out upwards. Their loyalty must be dual and their relationships with managers must be maintained.

Characteristics of a Matrix Structure

Here are some features that define the matrix management structure:

  • Hybrid Structure ?The matrix structure is a mix of functional and project organization. Since it is a combination of these two, matrix management is hybrid in nature.
  • Functional Manager ? When it comes to the technical phases of the project, the functional manager assumes responsibility. The manager decides on how to get the project done, delegates the tasks to the subordinates and oversees the operational parts of the organization.
  • Project Manager ? The project manager has full authority in the administrative phases, including the physical and financial resources needed to complete the project. The responsibilities of a project manager comprise deciding on what to do, scheduling the work, coordinating the activities to diverse functions and evaluating over-all project performance.
  • Specialization ?As the functional managers concentrate on the technical factors, the project managers focus on administrative ones. Thus, in matrix management, there is specialization.
  • Challenge in Unity of Command ? Companies that employs matrix management usually experience a problem when it comes to the unity of command. This is largely due to the conflicting orders from the functional and project managers.

Types of Matrix Structure

The matrix management structure can be classified according to the level of power of the project manager. Here are three distinct types of matrix structures that are widely used by organizations.

  • Weak Matrix ? The project manager has limited authority and power as the functional manager controls the budget of the project. His role is only part-time and more like a coordinator.
  • Strong Matrix ? Here, the project manager has almost all the authority and power. He controls the budget, holds the full time administrative project management and has a full time role.
  • Balanced Matrix ? In this structure type, both the project and functional managers control the budget of the project. The authority and power is shared by the two as well. Although the project manager has a full time role, he only has a part time authority for the administrative staff to report under his leadership.

Successful companies of today venture more on enhancing the abilities, skills, behavior and performances of their managers than the pursuit of finding the best physical structure. Indeed, learning the fundamentals of the matrix structure is essential to maximize its efficiency. A senior executive pointed out that one of the challenges in matrix management is not more of building a structure but in creating the matrix to the mind of the managers. This comes to say that matrix management is not just about the structure, it is a frame in the mind.

How Alcoa Canned the Cost of Recycling

Alcoa is one of the world?s largest aluminium smelting and casting multinationals, and involves itself in everything from tin cans, to jet engines to single-forged hulls for combat vehicles. Energy costs represent 26% of the company?s total refining costs, while electricity contributes 27% of primary production outlays. Its Barberton Ohio plant shaved 30% off both energy use and energy cost, after a capital outlay of just $21 million, which for it, is a drop in the bucket.

Aluminium smelting is so expensive that some critics describe the product as ?solid electricity?. In simple terms, the method used is electrolysis whereby current passes through the raw material in order to decompose it into its component chemicals. The cryolite electrolyte heats up to 1,000 degrees C (1,832 degrees F) and converts the aluminium ions into molten metal. This sinks to the bottom of the vat and is collected through a drain. Then they cast it into crude billets plugs, which when cooled can be re-smelted and turned into useful products.

The Alcoa Barberton factory manufactures cast aluminium wheels across approximately 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) of plant. It had been sending its scrap to a sister company 800 miles away; who processed it into aluminium billets – before sending them back for Barberton to turn into even more wheels. By building its own recycling plant 60 miles away that was 30% more efficient, the plant halved its energy costs: 50% of this was through process engineering, while the balance came from transportation.

The transport saving followed naturally. The recycling savings came from a state-of-the-art plant that slashed energy costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Interestingly enough, processing recycled aluminium uses just 5% of energy needed to process virgin bauxite ore. Finally, aluminium wheels are 45% lighter than steel, resulting in an energy saving for Alcoa Barberton?s customers too.

The changes helped raise employee awareness of the need to innovate in smaller things too, like scheduling production to increase energy efficiency and making sure to gather every ounce of scrap. The strategic change created 30 new positions and helped secure 350 existing jobs.

The direction that Barberton took in terms of scrap metal recycling was as simple as it was effective. The decision process was equally straightforward. First, measure your energy consumption at each part of the process, then define the alternatives, forecast the benefits, confirm and implement. Of course, you also need to be able to visualise what becomes possible when you break with tradition.

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Renewable energy – Is it a common man’s cup of tea?
I came across an article on a young graduate in renewable energy engineering. The fellow was doing technical sales and marketing jobs for renewable energy products though he felt that as a graduate, he ought to be doing more than just sales. His, sentiments, I can relate with but again thinking about the field of renewable energy, how many people understand what it is, its importance/ benefits, how to acquire it, its installation, costs etc.?Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources. The renewable energy sources include sunlight, wind, rain, tides, geothermal heat and various forms of biomass. These sources are renewable naturally and continuously replenished, therefore this energy cannot be exhausted. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity/micro hydro, biomass and bio-fuels for transportation.Back to the aspiring young professional who felt that his place in the renewable energy sector lies in doing strategies and coming up with new products-the advice fronted to him was that doing technical sales is the best job for engineers, as it helps them impact on users of their products. Sales entail interacting with customers and knowing their needs so that the product features can be enhanced to suit the customer?s needs. Now, that is brilliant and accurate advice. It is however important to take into consideration that renewable energy is not a common man?s cup of tea and right now the focus all over the world is to build green economies.To me the need for more and more people to understand the benefits, savings and cost of renewable energy cannot be overemphasised. Effort should be made to keep marketing of renewable energy products/ services simple and conversational by avoiding use of acronyms or jargon explaining about operational details. More impact can be made if a marketing rather than technical sales approach is used. Technical sales have been described as boring (can be used as a sleeping aid), tends to use extensive vocabulary, jargon and acronyms that product users cannot relate with and tends to discuss the products technical aspects as opposed to the benefits to the customer. Fun should be created out of all this by making things simple and demonstrating cost savings and benefits of renewable energy.

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