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Promoting sustainable innovation

4 April 2017

Dean Prof. Kitchener with iLEGO 2017 speakers
L-R: Steven Roberts, Professor Darrell Mann, Mark Timmins, Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, Professor Martin Kitchener, Mark Watson, Lindsay Zingg, Sam Stacey, Dr Maneesh Kumar

More than forty professionals from over 20 organisations have joined forces with academic practitioners to develop ways of making supply chains more sustainable at the second Innovation in Lean Enterprise and Green Operations (iLEGO) conference at Cardiff Business School on 30 March 2017.

The event, organised by Dr Maneesh Kumar and Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, got underway with a keynote presentation from Professor Darrell Mann of Systematic Innovation.

An expert in innovation practices, Professor Mann led a discussion entitled ‘Sustainability without Compromise’ in which he revealed that 98% of innovative solutions fail. During the presentation, he challenged the idea that lean organisations which achieve operational excellence are by default innovative.

Run towards the contradiction

Professor Darrell Mann presenting at conference

Instead, Professor Mann argued that contradictorily organisations are predisposed to maximise efficiency and effectiveness of current working practices and are therefore unlikely to innovate. His presentation concluded by addressing the grand challenge of responsible, sustainable innovation and a call to arms for conscientious and successful innovators to ‘run towards the contradiction’.

Presentations followed from Sam Stacey, Director of Innovation and Business Improvement at Skanska UK, Lindsay Zingg, Global Head of Quality, Health, Safety & Environment at Panalpina, and Alison Beard-Gunter, Continuous Improvement Manager for Accolade Wines.

Mr Stacey discussed the industrialization of the construction industry in light of opportunities made available by the fourth industrial revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0.

Ms Zingg outlined how Panalpina are continually reducing their CO2 emissions through a renewed focus on environmental logistics. This innovative solution is part of their corporate social responsibility but also, and increasingly, to meet customer demand.

Ms Beard-Gunter concluded the morning’s proceedings by showcasing the ways in which Accolade Wines have embedded green initiatives at every level of their organisation leading to awards from Tesco, BRC Global Standards and Morrison’s.

“Lean and green”

Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, Senior Lecturer in Logistics and Operations Management at Cardiff Business School, said: “Building on the success of our inaugural iLEGO event last year, the second has shared examples of different innovation models that can help organisations to be lean and green simultaneously across their operations...”

“It’s been a pleasure to welcome so many delegates from the business and academic worlds. And, a special thank you must go to our thought-provoking speakers who shared their expertise, insight and experience with all of us.”

Professor Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues Professor in Sustainable Supply Chain Management

The afternoon session saw Mark Watson, Director of Planning & Supply Chain at Ocado, Steven Roberts, North Wales Fire Services, Mark Timmins, South Wales Ambulance Services Trust, and Nick Crew, Operations Manager at Airbus lead discussions on Industry 4.0, collaboration with supply chain partners and working with large organisations, governments, academics, and SMEs.

“The sustainable option could also be cheaper”

Dr Maneesh Kumar, Reader in Service Operations at Cardiff Business School, said: “What’s evident from some of the fascinating presentations that we’ve heard today is that many organisations still think that switching to an environmentally-friendly operational model, be it energy, raw materials, transportation etc. will incur a negative impact on cost...”

“So it’s been incredibly pleasing to hear from discussion, experience and expertise that this is simply not the case. The sustainable option could also be cheaper. The challenge now is to effectively communicate this to the business world!”

Professor Maneesh Kumar Professor in Service Operations

iLEGO 2017 was sponsored by Panalpina, LCS Ltd. and Minitab. It is an annual conference and part of a wider project which undertakes applied research initiatives, including co-funded company-based PhD and Knowledge Transfer Projects and summer internships for graduates.