Manufacturing is still big business in America. This sector is one of the biggest pillars that hold up this country’s economy. Its importance should never be underestimated. Nor should the responsibility of a given business owner in the manufacturing sector.
You’ve probably already heard the news: we’ve been doing some severe damage to the environment for a good few years now. The message has been sent out to the general public. Many measures have been put in place to make sure the average citizen reduces their environmental footprint. More people that ever are recycling, using electric cars or converting to solar power.
But the fact of the matter is that the environmental harm your average citizen does is minimal. The damage to the environment has largely been industrial. Residential carbon emissions and waste make up an extremely small portion of the problem. It’s big industries and commercial pursuits that are causing the biggest amounts of harm.
Don’t worry, business owners in the manufacturing sector! The ones with the dirtiest hands are those in the meat industry and the coal industry. In fact, significant improvements have been made in the manufacturing industry over the last decade. So don’t start feeling too guilty. However, if you’ve found yourself feeling a little uncomfortable about this problem, then read on. What follows is a quick guide to making things more environmentally-friendly at your factory.
Find out how much energy your factory is using.
One of the keys to making your production process greener is by reducing energy usage. And the only way you’re going to do this effectively is if you know exactly where your energy is being used. This may seem like an obvious thing to many business owners in this sector. They look around their factories and see several things that are necessarily using lots of energy. There are electric motors, heaters, boilers, conveyor belts, air compressors, chillers, etc.
Sure, we can find ways to reduce our usage of these things. But unless you do an energy audit of some kind, you’re going to be lacking some key data. The best way to reduce energy usage is by knowing exactly what items and processes are taking up a particular percentage of your energy use. Once you know that, you’ll know what changes to make and where. You can do energy audits by yourself or look into getting outside help.
Consider getting new equipment.
Let’s say you’ve found out via your energy audit that one particular area of energy usage is way too high. For example, the energy usage in the heating department is much higher than is actually required. Most of the time, it’s a simple case of coming up with energy-reducing strategies in the daily use of the relevant equipment. But sometimes, even when you’ve done all you can with this method, the energy consumption is still too high.
A lot of equipment in a given factory uses more energy that it actually needs. This is why you may want to consider replacing certain items with more energy efficient versions. You can do this while also improving on raw material usage. Let’s say that too much energy is being used during the coloring process of a product. You can look into new equipment that reduces energy usage and makes the coloring process itself more effective. You can read more about this online at ReliantFinishing.
Another option is to employ the use of systems which do not need raw materials to mark and brand your product whilst using very little energy, such as laser marking systems.
Start getting recycled materials.
If you’re concerned about the environment, then you’re probably already recycling what you can. But while many business owners are happy to recycle things, they don’t always make the most eco-friendly purchases. Many believe that using recycled materials in their production will harm the quality of their end product. But this isn’t true!
Whatever raw materials you’re using, see if you can purchase them from a vendor that makes them from recycled items. Things like steel, cardboard, paper and glass are among the examples that are the easiest to recycle. In doing this, you’ll help everyone “close the recycling loop”.
Waste not, want not.
This bit of advice is very similar to the last one in that it involves recycled materials. But there’s a difference: the person supplying you with the recycled materials is you! The manufacturing industry has great potential for recycling their own materials. Perhaps more so than any other industry. Whatever it is you’re making, there are bound to be discarded materials that you were planning to send to a recycling institute. But have you considered just reusing them yourself there and then?
Research the materials you’re using and what it would take to recycle them. It’s possible that cleaning and reshaping materials on-site would be too expensive or time-consuming. If you can make it work, then make a detailed recycling program and make sure employees know how to follow it.
Use renewable energy.
Factories are going to use a lot of electricity. There’s not much you can really do to change that, no matter how much you reduce energy usage! But what you can do is look into using renewable energy to generate all that electricity. Renewable energy is still a very misunderstood thing. A lot of business owners in this sector remain convinced that these methods couldn’t generate the amount of electricity they need. But you may be underestimating the sheer power of the natural elements!
Electricity can be generated from sunlight, wind, heat, rain and more. Many businesses use a combination of at least two for worries that one element will experience “downtime”. Companies like Graybar specialize in installing these facilities for industrial purposes. But you can also look into working with an energy provider that uses green energy instead of fossil fuels and the like.
Look for inspiration.
As previously mentioned, there are several companies who have made their production processes eco-friendly. And they’re not small names, either. IKEA is currently the leader in this field, with its use of sustainable forestry and plans for 100% clean energy by 2020.
Nike, Johnson & Johnson and Dell are other big names who are looking out for the environment. Don’t be afraid to research the processes used by these companies and applying them yourself!