Introducing Sustainability Calculations in eVSM Mix

Sustainability & eVSM

Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.Companies are increasingly making pledges to sustainability metrics. These can be met by actions such as cutting emissions, carbon offsets, lowering their energy usage and ensuring their physical waste is disposed of properly and with as small a carbon footprint as possible.

Sustainability metrics like carbon emission accumulate over the life cycle of the product that companies produce in a time based fashion (emission per month of operation) or item count based fashion (emission per item of product made). We have implemented both of these measure types in a beta version of eVSM’s Mix Supply Network stencil and using “SV” to name the sustainability variable being tracked. It could be used for emissions, energy, water usage or other sustainability metrics.

We are forming a working group in this area so we can expand the usage (functionality, awareness, examples) of our new eVSM Mix engine in this area and leverage lean and value stream mapping for sustainability waste reduction. It’s a natural fit that has long been advocated by organizations such as the EPA. Please contact us at if you are interested in being an active participant in the working group. 

To illustrate how sustainability metrics may be tracked in a supply network, lets look at a simple example step by step. Sustainability additions we have made to the eVSM Mix Supply Network application are in bold italics.

Step 1: Mapping the value stream (or life cycle)

We used the eVSM Mix Supply Network icons to map a simple product value stream in a drag and drop fashion

The fresh produce is sourced in Costa Rica, shipped and then processed in the USA and then packaged and distributed to Canada and the US with final consumption in both countries.

This is standard eVSM Mix supply network VSM capability. No enhancements were needed for sustainability.

Step 2: Input the emission values

In this case “SV” refers to 1Kg of Co2 emission. A “Unit” refers to 1000Kg of the product at that point. 

In the example plant above, its estimated there is .19Kg of Co2 emission per 1000 Kgs of product. In addition there is 200Kg of Co2 emission per month from operating the plant independent of the quantity of produce.

These two sustainability input variables have been added to the standard VSM model. They are optional and can be recorded at any applicable step. 

Step 3: Input the product demand values for the different destinations and product types

Demand is input by coffee type because each type may have slightly different values for the emissions as they are produced by the value stream.

The eVSM Mix engine is able to handle different demand and operational values by product type so input is straightforward. Here are the demands for the US and Canada regions

P1 - Product1 (75.00 MTon/Wk)
P2 - Product2 (90.00 MTon/Wk)

S2 - Canada
P1 - Product1 (50.00 MTon/Wk)
P2 - Product2 (70.00 MTon/Wk)

Demand input at the customer and with subsequent automatic demand value calculation throughout the network is standard eVSM Mix capability. Nothing had to be added for sustainability

Step 4: Solve the map and summarize the emissions and their source

We can solve the value stream to calculate the total emissions per unit and per period. These have been visualized with the blue gadgets in the map below

We can also look at the cumulative emissions per period for the value stream legs to Canada and the USA as below

These are to scale and note the color below each bar that ties to the color of the activity responsible for the emissions

We added sustainability output variables and supporting equations to calculate emissions per unit and per period. We used our VSM gadgets for the blue bars showing percentage emissions and our ladder chart to show life cycle emissions leading to each region

Step 5: Brainstorm improvements, establish targets, and develop a plan

eVSM Mix has an improvement framework in place with Kaizen bursts and clouds and user selection of attributes like owner, impact, date etc.. There is also a bi-directional transfer capability to Excel to help input, organization and collaboration

The standard eVSM improvement framework can be used to help identify improvements and set targets for different stages of the value stream (life cycle). No enhancements are needed here to support sustainability

Conclusions & Next Steps

The eVSM Mix engine has been developed over 20 years for usage on multi-product value streams. Its application to sustainability has proved straightforward because the required drag & drop map construction, the variable and equations handling, the visual output using gadgets and charts and the improvement framework to do “what-ifs” and create a plan were already all in place

The next step will be to apply the sustainability version to actual data collected in a 2020 publication for a coffee life cycle process. Stay tuned for our next blog.

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