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Review of Energy use in Manufacturing

Manufacturing.net has an article about the efforts of an MIT professor to study energy use in manufacturing which led me to further searches and discovery. The article titled – MIT Prof To Study Energy Use In Manufacturing by Amy Radishofski talks about Professor Timothy G. Gutowski and his efforts to

study energy use in manufacturing processes from machining and grinding to injection molding and microelectronics fabrication methods

The article is cross-referenced at MIT news office in this article.
Amy notes,

Gutowski wants to compare the environmental performance of traditional methods versus that of alternative processes and product designs and proposed new processes.

In an earlier life of being a mechanical engineering student studying product design as an activity, the customer figured as one of the most important players (if not the most important) as well as durability, configurability etc etc. Today, another player has entered the matrix of competing demands or needs – environmental factors that were in the past dismissed as an externality.
Here’s an important thing to note from the article:

According to Gutowski, efficiency and increased production go hand in hand, thus the increased production would offset gains in efficiency. “Hence, energy efficiency alone has not resulted in an absolute reduction in energy use,” he added.

That is quite true because the market (local or global) is not even close to be satisfied yet. However, when looking at a firm which has innovated efficiency gains in their production, increased production would be the resultant if customers seek to take advantage of efficiency gains. But other firms in the competitive space who have not been able to innovate similarily would lose market share and thus production through inefficient technology or of inefficient technology would tend to decrease as long as customers actually desire to take advantage of the efficiency gains. I accept that this is a simplistic scenario because customers (such as I) are looking not only for efficiency gains, say in MPG with respect to cars, but a total value proposition or to be more specific (thanks to marketing genuises) a percieved total value proposition. If you watch cable TV in the US, you have been bombarded with the advertisement of a VW Jetta in an accident over, over and over again. Notwithstanding my general reaction that when I buy a car, I’m not thinking of accidents that might happen, passenger safety is one of the criterion that one must take into account. That’s what I mean by total value proposition or percieved total value proposition.

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About me

I am Chris Jacob Abraham and I live, work and blog from Newburgh, New York. I work for IBM as a Senior consultant in the Fab PowerOps group that works around the issue of detailed Fab (semiconductor fab) level scheduling on a continual basis. My erstwhile company ILOG was recently acquired by IBM and I've joined the Industry Solutions Group there.

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