Improved inventory control and material handling reduces waste from oversupply, spills, or deterioration of old stock. This reduction increases efficiency and prevents pollution. Proper inventory control also ensures that materials with limited shelf lives have not degraded. Processes can thus run at peak efficiency while directly reducing the waste caused by reprocessing.
On-demand generation of hazardous materials needed for certain processes is an example of innovative material handling that can reduce impact.
Storage facilities are also an important element of inventory and handling systems. These facilities must be properly designed to ensure safe containment of material. They should be adequately sized for current and projected needs.
A large American electronics firm developed an on-demand generation system for producing essentially toxic chemicals that had no substitutes. Less harmful precursors were reacted to form toxic chemicals for immediate consumption. The company now produces arsine, an acutely toxic chemical essential for semiconductor production, as it is needed. This system avoids transporting arsine to manufacturing sites in compressed cylinders and using specially designed containment facilities to store the arsine. The company no longer must own three special storage facilities which cost $1 million each to build and maintain (Ember 1991).
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