Establishing sustainable manufacturing processes makes good business sense.
What does that look like in the metal industry? What changes can we make to our purchasing and processing that will make a difference?
To be fair, establishing new processes to replace those which you have been training your staff in for years can be a process on its own. However, once everyone understands the real benefits – both short and long term – then the steady transition to sustainable manufacturing will become a reality.
Sustainability efforts are now, more than ever, a vital business objective.
Sustainable Manufacturing in the Metal Industry
As you would expect this is a big subject and these concepts are not exhaustive. In fact, we welcome you to share any input in terms of ideas which have worked in your business.
There are some surprisingly simple ways to reduce waste which will reap immediate cost benefits at very little cost, in some cases at zero cost.
Some of these are listed in a factsheet from the AI Group which states, “Metal manufacturers generate waste through activities such as casting; machining and welding; parts assembly; surface finishing; quality control; and packaging.”
Among many other waste reduction methods they list:
- Purchase high-quality lubricants, coolants and metalworking fluids so you can use less and therefore generate less waste.
- Plan jobs where possible to minimise metal scrap by using the maximum percentage of sheets or blocks (e.g. provide a scrap size that is suitable for a subsequent smaller job).
- Reduce packaging waste by buying in bulk or sourcing packaging that is recyclable or is taken back by suppliers.
- Cover tanks when not in use to reduce solvent and other losses.
- Reduce carry-over in the plating process by counter-current rinsing or installing spray rinses over plating baths.
Certainly, a good look at our systems in the area of waste reduction is an excellent start.
An often-overlooked element of ‘going green’ is the fact that you are positioning yourself as a business partner or supplier to those who are actively looking for a manufacturer with the same ethos.
While you may be saving money and resources, on one hand, you are also becoming a preferred supplier to customers which you may not have reached before.
The idea of more customers is something that no business will turn their nose up at.
These two concepts are the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to sustainable manufacturing. Our next article will deal with the long-term effects and innovation.