Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Customer Care Features
Etienne Nichols
How to give yourself a little more space when things happen
Jennifer Chu
Findings point to faster way to find bacteria in food, water, and clinical samples
Smaller, less expensive, and portable MRI systems promise to expand healthcare delivery
William A. Levinson
Automation could allow baristas to be paid more and still net higher profits for company
Peter Fader
In an excerpt from The Customer-Base Audit, the authors ask critical questions

More Features

Customer Care News
Precision cutting tools maker gains visibility and process management across product life cycles
A Heart for Science initiative brings STEM to young people
Three new single-column models with capacities of 0.5 kN, 1 kN, and 2.5 kN
Recognition for configuration life cycle management
Delivers real-time, actionable 3D data across manufacturing and business operations
On the importance of data governance in the development of complex products
Base your cloud strategy on reliable information
Forecasts S&A subsector to grow 9.2% in 2023
Facilitates quick sanitary compliance and production changeover

More News

Bob Ferrone

Customer Care

A Crucial Role for Quality: Sustainability

Saving the planet and bolstering the bottom line

Published: Tuesday, June 6, 2023 - 12:03

Industry stands at a new frontier of how organizations will be structured. With rapid advancements in technology, changing consumer behaviors, and the emergence of new business models, businesses are being forced to adapt and evolve to remain competitive. Businesses are also focusing more on sustainability and social responsibility, which can lead to new organizational models. Overall, the changing business landscape is forcing companies to rethink their traditional structures and embrace new approaches that are more agile, responsive, and adaptable to the rapidly evolving marketplace.

Sustainability has become a critical concern in recent years as the global community recognizes the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. The world’s resources are finite, and businesses that fail to account for the long-term effects of their operations may find themselves at a disadvantage in the future. Sustainability refers to an organization’s ability to operate in a manner that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Businesses that adopt sustainable practices can reduce their environmental footprint, conserve resources, and build resilience to future shocks.

One of the primary benefits of sustainability for business is increased efficiency. Sustainable practices often involve reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, and conserving resources. These measures can help to lower costs, increase productivity, and improve profitability over the long term. For example, a company that invests in renewable energy sources may reduce its reliance on costly fossil fuels, thereby lowering its energy bills and reducing its carbon footprint.

Another benefit of sustainability for business is improved reputation. Consumers and investors are interested in companies that prioritize environmental and social responsibility. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainable practices, businesses can improve their reputation and attract customers and investors who share their values. This can help to build trust, loyalty, and brand equity, all of which can contribute to long-term success.

Sustainability practices can also help businesses to mitigate risk. Climate change, resource depletion, and other environmental and social issues can pose significant risks to businesses. By adopting sustainable practices, businesses can build resilience, reduce their exposure to supply chain disruptions, and improve their ability to adapt to changing market conditions. This helps ensure long-term viability and competitiveness.

An organization’s quality department often plays a vital role in sustainability. It’s responsible for ensuring that the organization’s products or services meet the required standards and customer expectations. By focusing on sustainability, a quality department can enhance the quality of an organization’s products or services while also contributing to a sustainable future.

Enhancing product quality

Sustainable practices can help reduce waste in the production process. By reducing waste, an organization can produce products that are of a higher quality because there will be fewer defects and errors in the production process. In turn, this can improve customer satisfaction by improving the durability and safety of an organization’s products.

For example, using sustainable materials that are more durable can help produce products that are of a higher quality and last longer. This can also help reduce waste. Overall, by focusing on sustainability, a quality department can help improve an organization’s products or services as well as customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Sustainable practices often involve reducing waste, increasing energy efficiency, and using renewable resources. Adopting such practices can reduce the cost of production and improve an organization’s bottom line. For example, by integrating waste reduction strategies in operations, companies can achieve a more sustainable and efficient approach to production.

Similarly, using energy-efficient technologies or renewable energy sources can reduce the cost of energy and improve profitability. Energy costs are a significant expense for many organizations and reducing energy consumption can lower the cost of production.

Forward thinkers

Consider the first UNIVAC computer. Built in 1951, it weighed 8.3 tons and consumed 125 kW—enough to power a small city—as well as large amounts of material and hours of quality inspection. The environmental effects of building and disposing of bad materials were substantial.

Now consider that today’s smartphones weigh about 200 grams and are more than one million times more powerful than the Apollo 11 guidance computers. Much of the quality control is done by computers; soon, AI will handle quality control, and products will be built by robots.

Recently, there has been a remarkable convergence of quality and sustainability in high-tech industries. Enhancing product performance and reducing energy consumption throughout a product’s life cycle results in lower operational cost. These manufacturers constantly strive to make devices smaller and more compact while maintaining and improving their performance and durability. The industry leads in innovation, constantly pushing boundaries and driving progress.

High-tech industries recognize that energy-efficient designs not only reduce carbon emissions but also enhance quality. By optimizing hardware and software components, the companies can deliver devices that perform better while consuming less energy. This approach aligns sustainability goals with the desire to provide superior user experiences, reinforcing the blend of quality and sustainability.

High-tech companies are implementing various strategies to reduce waste. By adopting “design for the environment” (DFE) principles, manufacturers can create products that minimize waste and simplify recycling. This involves using eco-friendly materials, reducing the number of components, and designing products that are easier to disassemble. Many companies have established comprehensive recycling programs to ensure responsible disposal of electronic waste. They encourage customers to return old products for recycling, and they strive to extract valuable materials for reuse.

High-tech companies have taken a cradle-to-cradle approach to the product life cycle. As environmental consciousness grows and consumers demand more responsible and durable products, these companies are finding ways to seamlessly blend quality and sustainability by integrating quality standards with sustainable practices.

Less raw material consumption means extracting fewer natural resources, mitigating the effects of mining, processing, packaging, transportation, and unpacking those materials. This lowers energy consumption and reduces carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing process. For instance, when electronic components are miniaturized or integrated, there is a reduction in excess packaging, connectors, and interconnects. This reduces the amount of waste that needs to be managed, inspected, and disposed of after the device’s life cycle.

The industry embarked on this transformative journey by blending quality and sustainability. By integrating responsible practices into their product development, manufacturing processes, and supply chains, high-tech companies are redefining what it means to be a quality-driven and sustainable industry. Through durability, energy efficiency, responsible sourcing, waste reduction, and consumer education, these companies are spearheading a new era in which quality and sustainability are interwoven.

This commitment not only benefits the environment and society but also positions high-tech industries as leaders in responsible innovation. As technology continues to evolve, the blending of quality and sustainability will remain a driving force, shaping a brighter and more sustainable future. The remarkable advances in waste reduction, improved quality, and sustainability can bring about positive environmental change.

Change agents

Quality departments can help organizations measure and report on their sustainability performance by developing and implementing sustainability reporting frameworks, conducting audits and assessments of sustainability practices, and providing training and education on sustainability issues. Sustainable practices can help organizations comply with environmental regulations, which can prevent costly fines and legal battles. This is particularly important in industries that are heavily regulated, such as manufacturing and chemical industries.

Another excellent reason to focus on sustainability is to improve the organization’s reputation. Consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious and actively seek out products and services from businesses that prioritize sustainability. By adopting sustainable practices, a quality department can position its organization as a socially responsible and environmentally conscious business, which can attract environmentally conscious consumers and investors. In addition, a good reputation for sustainability can also attract top talent because employees look for organizations aligning with their personal values.

Sustainability will remain a critical issue for businesses in the future. Adopting sustainable practices will improve efficiency and contribute to companies’ long-term viability and competitiveness. Furthermore, sustainability is essential for our planet’s future and for addressing the urgent environmental and social challenges we face. In these endeavors, quality organizations will play a major role in improving businesses as well as the environment.


About The Author

Bob Ferrone’s picture

Bob Ferrone

Robert Ferrone specializes in integrating industrial design engineering, quality, manufacturing, and environmental management systems (EMS) for improved environmental and economic performance. He has worked on ISO 9000/14001/50001 implementation with numerous private and public sector clients, including successfully guiding them to ISO certification. Some of his clients include Robert Bosch Corp., Sun Chemical international, Aetna Industries, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Ltd., Carnival Cruise lines, Sanyo, and SSI Technologies Inc. Ferrone developed approaches to use an EMS in the EPA and the Chemical Biological Defense Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland. He also developed an EMS for Alumax Corp. in Savannah, Georgia, as well as the first EMS auditing course to gain accreditation from the United Kingdom’s Environmental Auditors Registration Association.


These practices support bottom line performance

"One of the primary benefits of sustainability for business is increased efficiency. Sustainable practices often involve reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, and conserving resources. These measures can help to lower costs, increase productivity, and improve profitability over the long term. "

Henry Ford realized this more than 100 years ago, when there were few if any environmental regulations. He recognized that any material he threw away, such as waste wood, was material he had paid for so his position was that he should re-purpose it, e.g. as Kingsford Charcoal. My own position is that ISO 14001 users should look at everything that is thrown away, rather than just environmental aspects, to get the most benefit from it. ISO 50001 relates to energy and should be used as well.


William, I agree with your comments on Henry Ford. It was his book today and tomorrow 1926 the focus were his views  on industrial efficiency and productivity. He  truly believed that waist was one of the biggest obstacles to productivity and profitability. The book is rich on ideas in approaches how to look at waist and becoming green at the same time. Ford emphasized the importance of producing high-quality products right from the start. He believed that defects and rework resulted in wasted time, effort, and resources.   He did it before the environment was an issue. It was what drove me to become interested in environmental issues and how we look at that area. He had a very different view on waste, and how business should view waste as an inefficiency. Sustainability is truly about efficiency and increasing both competitiveness and profitability through the elimination of waste which also benefits the environment.Today and Tomorrow should be a mandatory read for people entering the sustainability arena.

In many cases were I was building an ISO 14001 or ISO 50001 programs were championed by the environmental department and it took an effort to convince people that we needed all departments at the table. That way when we look at environmental aspects we can take a systematic view at all impacts. Both the quality department and the engineering department could make a big impact to reduction of waste. The quality department has a number of tools that can impact the environmental / energy of an organization in a very powerful way. The question William is are business leaders willing to make the changes needed.

“Business man go down with their business because they like the old way so well they cannot bring themself to change” Henry Ford.