Process mapping in new product development for environmental impact reduction in small and medium manufacturing enterprises
Environmental impact reduction (EIR) in Product Development processes, can involve numerous elements and activities. In relation to business objectives, the strategic review and integration of environmental impact reduction should be considered a best practice development opportunity and a contribution towards longer term sustainability. It should be recognised that environmental impact reduction requirements are often complex and challenging for businesses to implement, especially for those companies lacking the knowledge and internal resources to address these activities. This has been found to be the case particularly with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) where flexibility towards new approaches can be strategically more problematic, due to the limitations of available capital and resource. After a combination of literature review, industrial collaboration and data collection from within the manufacturing logistics systems of packaging for SME products, an opportunity was identified to develop a contemporary framework to integrate key critical environmental impact reductive activities, within adjoining New Product Development (NPD) activity. Engaging key activities of environmental impact reduction seamlessly into standardised NPD though a visual mapping process, can promote changes in current behaviour towards best practice development opportunities concerning environmental impact reduction. The contribution to new knowledge from this programme of research has been the development of an investigative framework for visually mapping the product development processes which provides manufacturing SMEs with an approach to capturing „visual snapshots‟ of their current engagement within environmental impact reductive activities. This visual mapping process addresses a range of company sizes and organisational behaviours to provide specific feedback and inform best practices for more sustainable NPD.
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