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Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

Automotive industry sets sustainability guidelines for suppliers

3 min read

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) has recently agreed to a set of expectations for automotive suppliers, relating to the environment, working conditions, human rights and business ethics (aka Sustainability).

Automotive supplier requirements AIAG

But you don’t work in the automotive industry? Keep reading…

AIAG is a consortium of automotive companies (Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota, Daimler, Fiat, Chrysler, Volvo), and they were responsible for the development and documentation of Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP). APQP provides a framework for improving product quality, starting with the product development process.

Why should you care about this?

Since automobiles are manufactured in a high volume and competitive industry, these companies have collectively determined the most effective way to reduce long term manufacturing costs. These APQP techniques have carried over to healthcare, aerospace, military, software and other major industries.

In other words, what the automotive industry does will eventually make its way into other industries.

This is good news for all of us, since the expectations set forth in this document can be used as a reference for the companies we work with and work for.

sustainability automotive guidelines

Download the AIAG Corporate Responsibility Guidance Statement >>>

The document is broken down into three sections:

  • Business Ethics
  • Working Conditions and Human Rights
  • Environmental Standards

I think the first two sections are pretty straight forward and are not too controversial, but I do like the environmental standards guidance:

Companies are expected to pursue effective environmental
protection throughout the supply chain in order to reduce the
environmental footprint of our products through-out their life-cycle. All products manufactured within the supply chain, and the applied materials and substances used in the process are expected to meet environmental standards for design, development, distribution, use, disposal or recycling. Such a comprehensive approach includes but is not limited to:

• Reducing energy and water consumption
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
• Increasing use of renewable energies
• Enhancing appropriate waste management
• Training of employees

Businesses are expected to support a proactive approach to
environmental challenges, and encourage the development
and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Specifically I was encouraged to see these mentioned in the document:

  • Reducing a product’s life-cycle footprint (which many companies do not calculate today)
  • Meet environmental standards for use, disposal and recycling (incorporates end of life after it goes to the customer, often not considered)
  • Training of employees (done minimally or not at all)
  • Encourage environmentally friendly technologies (rarely set as expectations for suppliers, wait for customers to ask for it)

Learn more about AIAG’s corporate responsibility program >>>

Share this document with your company and the companies you work with. Use it as a guide to publish your Corporate Responsibility or Sustainability Report. You can also use it as a framework for driving sustainability improvements.

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