Green manufacturing is topic for two days of events at WMU

A broad-based group of Southwest Michigan companies came together May 5-6 on the campus of Western Michigan University to pursue green manufacturing projects and programs.

Representatives from about 75 companies gathered May 5 at WMU for presentations from a number of Southwest Michigan firms using green practices.

The gathering is part of a green manufacturing initiative funded last fall with a $1 million federal award to WMU.

The meeting was called to help build a critical mass of West Michigan companies actively pursuing green manufacturing techniques. Executives from Herman Miller, Subaru, Cummins, Perrigo, Kellogg Co., Cascade Engineering and DENSO are expected to offer presentations.

The next day a smaller group launched an industrial consortium to explore how to develop greener manufacturing and supply chain.

The day of activities was intended to provide the companies attending with an opportunity to learn and network with university representatives as well as companies that represent a broad cross-section of the manufacturing sector and are committed to green manufacturing. The initiative will provide services to help companies become greener.
Status reports and updates of some initial projects undertaken by a new university and industry consortium that focuses on green manufacturing were presented the morning of May 6.

The reports reviewed work done by WMU researchers and their industry partners at Armstrong International, Burroughs Corp. and Ottawa Gage. Those attending heard presentations by Randal Hountz, associate director of Purdue University's Technical Assistance Program, and Dr. Michael Sharer, WMU's director of intellectual property management and commercialization.

A smaller group of industry leaders in green manufacturing also gathered in the afternoon May 6 for the inaugural meeting of the new consortium.

The Green Manufacturing Industrial Consortium is an industry and university cooperative research and development body modeled after the National Science Foundations successful Research Centers Program.

The group's members are companies engaged with the university to collaborate on green manufacturing projects and programs.

The consortium will identify and promote projects of mutual interest throughout the manufacturing enterprise.

The efforts they undertake will range from focused projects such as material selection in product design and green manufacturing processes to general activities such as waste reduction or elimination in manufacturing (lean manufacturing), and energy conservation, says Dr. David Meade, associate director of the Green Manufacturing Industrial Consortium.

The Consortium also is supported by the federal funding received by WMU last fall, but is primarily funded through the dues paid by member organizations. Thursday's afternoon meeting will be the Consortium's first official gathering. The afternoon is a closed business meeting for members only.
Writer: Kathy Jennings
Contact: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University
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