The US Department of Commerce defines Sustainable Manufacturing as: “The creation of manufactured products that use processes that minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities, and consumers and are economically sound.”
When you think of the word sustainability, what comes to mind?
For me sustainability has come to signify excitement and anticipation, now that might sound a little odd at first, but let me explain why. I’ve been working on developing and documenting cost savings while managing our Total Cost of Ownership program here at supplyFORCE for the past seven years. Working closely with our customers and learning what’s important to them has given me great insight into what the industry is moving towards. What started in many cases as reactive measures to comply with new legislation or to take advantage of rebate programs, has now shifted into voluntary programs and new corporate cultures.
Now, let me share why for me this adds up to excitement. I believe that creating a culture of sustainability can lead to improved processes, increased productivity, increased production, and of course, large cost savings! In short, more revenue, less expenses, doesn’t that sound exciting? So how do we get there, what are some specific areas that can be targeted to take advantage of these opportunities?
First off, one of the largest opportunities in the past decade has been conversions to LED lighting, while still an ongoing opportunity, many have already taken steps to audit and upgrade their facilities’ lighting systems. While we’re talking about large electricity drawing systems, how many of your facilities have gone through the same audit and overhaul process on their install bases of drives and motors? I’ve heard stories about drives that were installed in the 1970s still in daily use, which is impressive on the one hand, but more than likely they are using more energy to run than newer models, and could be placing facilities at risk of lengthy downtimes in cases with failures. Another good reason for regular audits of drives and motors is to check that current systems are being fully utilized; are there variable frequency drives installed where cheaper soft-starts could suffice, etc.? What about your plants air, gas, and water systems and components, have comprehensive audits been performed to check for leaks and inefficiencies? By upgrading and managing these systems, your plants will certainly save on expenses, but also reduce the footprint they leave in their consumption of these resources.
These are just a few areas to think about and explore, but supplyFORCE would love to talk to you about every opportunity we can identify to make your facilities more sustainable, and how you can benefit for years to come!