One factor that will increasingly characterise manufacturing into the future will be a growing focus on efficiencies and sustainability, as well as energy and waste reduction, in the manufacturing process.
Here at DaRo we have already made a great deal of progress towards lean manufacturing and have introduced a number of important changes to improve our operations.
Reducing waste arising in production processes is not just something we do for ‘green’ reasons – it can also have a major effect on cost reduction. The challenge, however, is to shrink this waste without diminishing the effectiveness or quality of the process.
Every piece of material that goes to landfill costs money, so we look to recycle as much as possible. All metals are segregated and collected by recycling companies while any plastic that is left over from jobs is granulated and re-extruded back into sheet form to be reused on new projects.
Not only does this approach save the company money on material purchases, it also gives us greater control over our own materials in terms of stock levels and quality control.
We can achieve considerable savings per tonne by recycling our materials and it is not just us that benefit from the savings we reap. These efficiencies make us more competitive when buying our materials, savings we are able to pass on to our clients.
We also look at minimising any losses that may occur in the production process itself, such as reject reduction. Prevention is better than cure and by constantly monitoring our production processes and carrying out regular maintenance we are able to avoid waste.
Another area where we have done a lot of work is analysing how we can reduce energy use from our processes. Over time we have replaced a lot of our machines that were previously running on old hydraulic motors and upgraded them with newer machines that are powered by more efficient electric motors. Some of these, for example our CNC punching machine and our press brakes, which are both used in our sheet metal fabrication processes, now use a quarter of the energy they previously did to do the same amount of work and require less maintenance.
In addition, we are in the process of installing LED lighting across our workshop and storage areas using a product we helped to develop for a client. LED lights have a lifespan and electrical efficiency that is an improvement on incandescent lamps, and vastly better than most fluorescent lamps. We are replacing old 400 watt lamps with 100 watt LED lamps – and not only will they last longer and require less maintenance, they also produce a brighter light. If you consider we are replacing between 20 and 30 lights – that is a huge saving.
Other innovations to reduce energy consumption relating to lighting include sensors that will turn lights off if no-one has been in an area of the warehouse for a given time and that will gradually bring the lights on up to full power as the amount of natural light gradually diminishes.
Finding efficiencies and reducing waste is an on-going journey for us and we will continue to look for areas where improvements can be made.