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Lean and Environment (and E3): Identifying Lean and E3 Opportunities
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
Identifying Lean and E3 Opportunities
Where to go for Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Lean Manufacturing Checklists and Forms
Downloadable audit checklists to help identify productivity improvement opportunities at facilities:...

Most P2 professionals are adept in recognizing opportunities for organizations to improve their environmental performance. The P2 community may not be so adept at identifying organizations that may be ripe for lean, or lean and environment, or E3 (which is essentially integrating lean and environment, energy, and economic development).

This section provides a checklist of conditions you might identify during a walk-through of a facility, which indicate the organization may be experiencing "lean pain" and could benefit from lean and environment and/or E3 projects.

If a business appears to have several of these potential conditions listed in the "Lean Pain" Checklist below, they may be ripe for a lean and environment project. For questions about whether a company is a potential candidate, and to determine the right contacts for establishing a lean and environment project team, and ... email PPRC at or view the "Where to Go for Help" section of this document.

The "Lean Pain" Checklist

Verbal Cues

□ Does the organization express a need or desire to improve productivity and efficiency?
□ Do employees express ideas for improvement that have not been implemented and/or they do not feel the management will be receptive to their ideas?
□ Is anyone complaining or bothered about having too much downtime, or waiting on a previous process step?
□ Is anyone complaining about product quality or ergonomic issues?
□ Is anyone complaining or demonstrating that they are not fully trained in a task or skill?


□ Disposables: people, materials, product
□ Short term results
□ Many "specialists" vs. staff trained in many operations and areas
□ Little investment in workforce skill development


□ Essential and non-essential items mixed
□ Employees stopping work to find a tool, part, or other item they need


□ Product does not meet specifications, or minimally meets specifications
□ High defect rate and defect piles or bins

Process Bottlenecks (Line Imbalances)

□ Process steps are not synchronized with each other
□ A rate-limiting process step that delays or slows down another step or process
□ Scheduling problems

Process Flow

□ LONG LEAD TIMES (suggest asking what their lead time is)
□ Large lot sizes
□ Long start-ups
□ Machine breakdowns
□ Long vendor deliveries
□ Long transportation distances or times


□ Accumulation of product elements between process steps
□ Raw materials stored for a long time before use
□ Excess accumulation of final product before shipment

Visual Controls

□ Hard to see and understand what is going on in the plant and particularly in a production area
□ Bins not marked, instructions not posted, tool and part storage not labeled

Operator Competence

□ Operators not able to run the floor
□ Operators not engaged /able to suggest improvements
□ Narrow skill sets
□ Work not "standardized" with consistent, documented methods, and/or operators don’t know what to do or how to do it correctly


□ Large machines
□ Capacity-driven


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

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Hub Last Updated: 5/7/2015