Emissions trading, the nuclear and hard coal phaseouts, Fridays for Future: Environmental protection is more present within today’s public debate than it has been in a long time. This has an impact on our daily life and consumer choices, and it doesn’t end there: Companies within the manufacturing industry increasingly feel compelled to face their responsibility to society by ensuring ecological and sustainable production. This in turn makes climate protection a core element of modern corporate cultures and strategies.
Quality Management and Environmental Protection
Due to the increasing awareness of ecological values, environmental friendliness has become a quality feature that has a significant impact on purchasing decisions. Today’s consumers increasingly assess the sustainability and fair production of their purchases in addition to price and quality. As a result, ecological sustainability has become a convincing argument on the market. Companies can gain a competitive advantage by providing key performance indicators to prove their environmentally friendly attitude as opposed to merely paying lip service to sustainable production or even going as far as to practice greenwashing.
Quality management offers opportunities to measure this ecological sustainability, as these two areas are mutually dependent: sustainability is unimaginable without quality. But why are quality and climate protection so closely connected? And can professional quality management really help protect our climate as well? We asked experts from academic research and practice, who gave us some interesting incentives for modern, entrepreneurial actions.
Voices from science and practice:
“Quality and sustainability are more closely connected than ever before. Both require responsible, entrepreneurial actions that benefit us all. And both need accepted regulations and standards, as well, to ensure that they are measurable and effective instead of merely fulfilling an image-forming function. If a company aims to act in accordance with the principles of quality, it will automatically act sustainably: by reducing rejects, for example, saving resources and meeting customer requirements.”
Claudia Welker, Executive Manager of the Managing Board at the German Association for Quality (DGQ)
“By implementing continuous improvement actions and establishing a key performance indicator system, we have verifiably increased our overall operative performance with regard to quality and energy while reducing our carbon emissions. We created KPIs for faults and fault-related costs, energy costs and carbon emissions; these allow us to monitor our current performance. By implementing actions in the field of energetic improvement and optimization processes, along with a strategy that strives to achieve zero faults, we establish quality, the environment and energy as the three pillars that ensure ecological sustainability and reduce costs.”
Carsten Voet, Deputy Head of Quality Management/Quality Assurance, Neuenhauser Maschinenbau GmbH
“In our society, we see a strong tendency to oppose mass consumption. Particularly when it comes to material consumption, we see a stronger focus on sustainability, cradle-to-cradle assessments and secondary use instead. The latter is particularly interesting from an economic perspective. The German automotive market is currently a good example for this, with its Schwacke list for used vehicles and secondary markets. Vintage stores, Ebay or Craigslist as well as established antiques and vintage car dealers, show the way ahead: Sell a quality that will even make the purchaser after the next one happy – not to mention the reseller. We call that quality that is suitable for our grandchildren. It’s been around before, and it will be around again. Because it’s a quality concept.”
Prof. Dr. Stephan A. Jansen, Head of the Center for Philanthropy & Civil Society (PhiCS), Karlshochschule International University, and Managing Director at the BICICLI Cycling Society (Society for Urban Mobility), Berlin, and partner at Das 18te Kamel & Komplizen – Society for Digital & Social Transformation with offices in Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna.
“Organizations that implement an integrated management system – in other words, one that addresses quality, energy and the environment – have an existing, sustainable corporate culture. Here, it is decisive to keep the entire value chain in mind during production. As a consultant, I have to consider the individual departments within my client’s company as a whole. An individual assessment of factors such as climate protection, an increase in quality or employee health protection isn’t enough. Actions within the various departments need to be analyzed as a whole, including their interactions. I advise companies to develop a sustainability strategy. It’s a comprehensive task.”
Sepinaz Kuska, Head of Management System Consulting, TÜV Rheinland
“Quality management is ideally suited to efficiently support companies with regard to their ecological sustainability, as it provides objective proof as a basis for decisions. Thanks to extensive system analyses along the entire product life cycle, it has a positive effect on long-term organizational development, including interactions with the environment. We need to interconnect safety, quality and sustainability, and exploit the potential of digitalization to realize a reliable and safe design, user-friendly applications and to effectively recycle complex technological systems.”
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Manuel Löwer, Specialist in Product Safety and Quality at the University of Wuppertal, Chairman of the Board at the Institute for Product Innovations, Solingen
“The WMF Group aims to generate added value for society and the economy. This objective contains an explicit, ecological-sustainable aspect. To achieve this, we use a range of tools that include a QM software solution. This helps us provide preventive quality assurance from the initial design draft to series production in the field of coffee machines, and to guarantee continuous product improvement. This creates sustainable customer benefits, as our machines require less maintenance as well as fewer components and resources. We also use our integrated management system as a means of achieving our objectives. We have incorporated the fields of quality and the environment equally, based on DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 and DIN EN ISO 14001:2015.”
Wolfgang Putz, Vice President Quality Management Coffee Machines, WMF Group GmbH