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Green manufacturing consortium continues to recruit

by Deanne Puca

April 21, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's green manufacturing initiative is continuing its momentum with the addition of Ralcorp's Post Foods as a new member company. One of the world's largest cereal companies, Post Foods joins Landscape Forms and Fabri-Kal as founding members in the Green Manufacturing Industrial Consortium, or GMIC, a partnership between faculty and students to assist West Michigan businesses in developing greener practices.

The status of projects planned and currently underway for these companies will be discussed at the organization's next meeting Tuesday, May 3, on WMU's Parkview Campus. The first half of the meeting beginning at 9 a.m. will include site assessments, technical presentations on projects, guest speaker Chris Collins--Safety, Health and Environmental facilities manger from Benteler Automotive--a discussion period and lunch. It will be held in Conference Room C-258 of the Engineering and Applied Sciences Building. A closed business meeting for the GMIC will begin at 1 p.m.

Green projects have been completed for numerous companies that have already contacted WMU with specific energy and environmental issues, and many more are underway. As GMIC members, however, Landscape Forms, Fabri-Kal and Post Foods have the opportunity to have their energy and material operations fully assessed by the WMU teams to determine what issues need to be addressed.

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 and elimination in manufacturing--lean manufacturing--and energy conservation.

Projects are typically led by a faculty member, with the students conducting the bulk of the analysis and engineering.

"The Green Manufacturing Initiative at WMU formally got underway in January 2010, following the announcement of its formation and start up funding in fall 2009. From January 2010 through April 2011, the WMU-GMI/GMIC has engaged 80 companies, 17 faculty and 10 students in green projects and activities. We continue to solicit and engage additional companies, faculty and students to participate in our research and educational programs," says Dr. John Patten, chair of manufacturing engineering and director of the WMU Center for Manufacturing Research.

The May gathering will be the third for the consortium and part of a green manufacturing initiative funded with a nearly $1 million federal award to Patten. The award was intended to assist businesses throughout West Michigan in creating more energy efficient and environmentally benign processes and products. It also is sustained through dues of $25,000 per year paid by member organizations.

For more information about the Green Manufacturing Initiative at WMU, contact Dr. John Patten at or (269) 276-3246; Dr. David Meade at or (231) 777-8529; or Carey Schoolmaster at or (269) 276-3245.