Manufacturing a greener future

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In the last few years, green practices have evolved from ‘good-to-have’ to something that can improve your brand image. Going green is thus high on the agenda of leading Indian manufacturing companies. From replacing environmentally hazardous solutions with more eco-sensitive alternatives to monitoring and managing resource use, waste and pollution, companies have taken definite strides in their green journey. Shweta Nanda takes a comprehensive look at some of these key initiatives

M Gopikrishna, Executive Vice President, Voltas
Green manufacturing has no longer remained just an empty slogan but has become the need of the hour – M Gopikrishna, Executive Vice President, Voltas

Indian manufacturing sector today stands on the cusp of a major opportunity to emerge as a global manufacturing hub and a major contributor to the country’s economy. From adopting latest technologies to focusing on quality standards and innovation, the sector is in the midst of a massive transformation. While the sector is taking aggressive steps to improve its global competitiveness, another area has also emerged as a top priority for major manufacturers: Adopting green manufacturing practices. It is true that manufacturing’s economic importance cannot be overlooked, but at the same time its environmental impact also cannot be ignored. Manufacturing companies consume significant amount of resources and generate huge volumes of waste. Consequently, adopting green manufacturing practices and being environmentally responsible is imperative for the manufacturing sector.

Zurvan H. Marolia, Sr. Vice President & Head – Product Supply, Godrej & Boyce
Every company can contribute to Greener India, they just need to analyse their processes and innovate regarding what they can change to be more efficient – Zurvan H. Marolia, Sr. Vice President & Head – Product Supply, Godrej & Boyce

“Green manufacturing has no longer remained just an empty slogan but has become the need of the hour,” asserts M Gopikrishna, Executive Vice President, Voltas. Echoing similar sentiments, Shyam Motwani, Executive Vice President & Business Head Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems says, “As India embarks on an ambitious developmental agenda, green and sustainable manufacturing will play a key role in achieving this goal.”

In fact, green practices have rapidly moved from ‘good-to-have’ to ‘must-have’ as investors have started looking at a company’s sustainable performance alongside its financial performance. “Focus on green manufacturing practices underlines an organization’s commitment towards the society, which raises its social credibility, boosts workforce morale, and fosters innovation. The brand image is also positively impacted, which attracts newer customers and increases sales,” says Rajeeva Lochan Sharma, Senior Director: Plant Noida, Operations, Barco Electronics.

Given this scenario, major manufacturers have already embarked on their green journey.

Shyam Motwani, Executive Vice President & Business Head, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems
As India embarks on an ambitious developmental agenda, green and sustainable manufacturing will play a key role in achieving this goal – Shyam Motwani, Executive Vice President & Business Head, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems

Embracing Green Practices

Green manufacturing signifies transformation of processes in two ways: developing and selling green products and adopting manufacturing processes that focus on reducing pollution, waste and emission and focus on recycling and reusing.

While most manufacturers today have taken some kind of green initiatives, there are few leaders in the space who are paving the way for others to follow the lead. A case in point is Godrej and Boyce, which has a huge focus on sustainability and reducing its environmental footprint across its manufacturing plants.

“As part of our ‘Good and Green’ policy, we have set-up ambitious goals, which we aspire to achieve by 2020. Our vision includes achieving 45% reduction in specific energy consumption, 50% reduction in specific water consumption and 30% increase in use of renewable energy sources,” informs Zurvan H. Marolia, Sr. Vice President & Head – Product Supply, Godrej & Boyce.

Kunwer Sachdev, MD, Su-Kam
We have a wide range of products that are focused on taking forward the green movement. We are focusing on introducing innovative solar technologies in the market – Kunwer Sachdev, MD, Su-Kam

To achieve this vision, the company has taken several initiatives. For example, for energy conservation, it has implemented measures like increased use of day light in plants with the installation of light pipe units and usage of LED lamps, and repositioning of light sources closer to point of application.

“We have installed an HVLS (High Volume Low Speed) fan.  This is a 6-blade fan which covers 12,000 sq. feet area and creates good air flow for a large area. It eliminates use of industrial fans in the given area and has a payback period of less than a year. Because of its unique design it creates air flow which is equivalent to 25 times of a traditional ceiling fan,” updates Marolia.

In one of its plants, Godrej & Boyce has installed a smart metering system which collates data from over 70 energy meters and gives an insight into the power consumption throughout the day. “With these data points, we can analyze causes of sudden spikes and identify areas where we can be more efficient,” informs Marolia.

For water conservation, the company is focusing on rainwater harvesting and reverse osmosis (RO). “At our Vikhroli plant major water requirement in the pre-treatment line is fulfilled by the recycled water,” updates Marolia.

The company is also focused on raising awareness regarding going green. “We organize an annual conclave on a specific theme, like waste management, water conservation, etc. The conclave, through panel discussions and presentations from industry experts, highlights latest innovations, creative solutions and best practices that can prove beneficial in the green journey,” states Marolia.

Likewise, another company from Godrej Group, Godrej Locking Solutions has taken significant strides in this space. Godrej locks are today manufactured in an environmental-friendly manufacturing plating plant in Madkai, Goa.

Rajeeva Lochan Sharma, Senior Director: Plant Noida, Operations, Barco Electronics.
Focus on green manufacturing practices underlines an organization’s commitment towards the society, which raises its social credibility, boosts workforce morale, and fosters innovation. The brand image is also positively impacted, which attracts newer customers and increases sales – Rajeeva Lochan Sharma, Senior Director: Plant Noida, Operations, Barco Electronics.

“This is first state-of-the-art plating plant in India that blends performance and sustainability by replacing environmentally hazardous solutions with more eco-sensitive alternatives,” shares Motwani. He further informs that most of the material that the company uses is recycled. “The scrap is sent back to the smelter to convert into raw material again for further use. To ensure minimal impact on the environment, chemical fumes are treated with online scrubber system and solid waste is monitored and maintained before it is sent to landfill.”

The company has also invested in automatic effluent treatment plant including ion exchange units for selective heavy metal removal from the effluents. The pH values of the effluents are neutralized and reused after several filtration and chemical treatments.

Voltas is another company that is at forefront in leading the green movement with initiatives like use of recyclable material in products and processes, projects on rain water harvesting, focus on logistics planning while inward and  outbound material movement to reduce carbon footprint, to name a few.

“Green is an integral and a core part of our DNA. We contribute to the green commitment through development of greener products and greener processes not only in operations but across the entire supply chain,” stresses Gopikrishna.

A manufacturer of visualization solutions for a variety of selected professional markets, Barco too follows several green manufacturing directives. “We adhere to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive in the New Product Introduction (NPI) process, which governs collection, recycling, and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods. We also follow the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) directives for products. Further, we comply with regulations governing electronic waste disposal, and fulfil the legal requirements mandated by regulatory bodies for water and air consent approval,” says Sharma.

Manufacturing a greener future

Developing Green Products

Apart from following green practices at the product manufacturing level, another important aspect of going green is developing and selling products that use renewable power and are energy-efficient. Consider the example of Su-Kam, a manufacturer of UPS, batteries, battery management systems for residential, commercial and industrial applications. “We have a wide range of products that are focused on taking forward the green movement. These include our low-capacity solar home inverters/UPS, solar PCU, which come with advanced features that give priority to solar power thus reducing electricity bills. Our high-capacity solar products designed for petrol pumps and highly sensitive machinery like the solar online UPS keep your load running at all times thus reducing dependency on generators that is one of the major sources of air pollutants,” states Kunwer Sachdev, MD, Su-Kam.

Voltas is also focused on manufacturing energy-efficient products. “We have been continuously developing products to meet the energy efficiency demands set by national and international standards like ECBC-NBC, ARI, etc. We have developed heat exchangers with high-efficiency tubes, VFD driven screw compressors and air cooled condenser fan motors for energy efficiency in chillers, micro channel fins for air cooled chiller packages for lesser refrigerant consumption, helping campaign against global warming. Our screw and centrifugal chillers comply with international AHRI testing standards, meeting stringent quality and performance standards,” updates Gopikrishna.

Similarly, Barco emphasizes on offering energy-efficient products. “We have LCDs and display walls that come equipped with Barco Control Manager (BCM) and green power boxes, which help in minimizing energy consumption and enable businesses to achieve more environmentally sustainable operations in the long run. Recently, we got a patent on a technology developed by our India R&D team for reducing the power consumption of a video wall in standby mode,” informs Sharma.

Identifying Key Areas

A crucial step for an organization embarking on the green journey is to recognize key areas where they can concentrate their efforts in terms of reducing energy or hazardous gas emission, based on the particular industry type.

“Every company can contribute to Greener India, they just need to analyse their processes and innovate regarding what they can change to be more efficient,” affirms Marolia.

A perfect example is of Godrej and Boyce, which has moved to using nano-coating in the pre-treatment process to eliminate hazardous waste like phosphates. Further, it has switched from the conventionally used Epoxy-Polyester powders, typically required to be baked at 180°C for 18 to 20 minutes, to low-bake powders. “Reducing the baking temperature has resulted in significant energy savings,” states Marolia.

Likewise, Godrej Locking Solutions and Systems has replaced environmentally hazardous materials used in the manufacture of locks with more eco-sensitive alternatives. “Our manufacturing plant utilizes trivalent chrome instead of environmentally hazardous hexavalent chromium. Similarly, an alkaline copper system is utilized in the plating process than the hazardous cyanide copper. Most of the material we use is recycled (brass, Mazak etc.),” informs Motwani.

In fact, small steps taken in monitoring and reducing environmental footprint can make a difference. While organizations can make huge investments like installing solar panel and energy-efficient machinery, they can also contribute to the green drive with simple measures like installing energy-efficient lighting and regulating lighting levels in the plant.

Take the example of Barco, whose last year plant-wide project to replace all CFLs with LED lights resulted in 7% savings on energy consumption.

Green is a Journey, Not a Destination

Leading Indian manufacturing companies have made some definitive strides in reducing their environmental impact. Having said that, going green is an evolutionary process and organizations need to keep pace with technological advancements, regulations and best practices. It calls for constant monitoring and identifying areas where green practices can make a difference. Also, the need of the hour is to raise more awareness amongst SMEs to join the green movement.

A starting point for a company looking at embarking on green journey should be focusing on establishing a corporate culture that values sustainability and make green a core part of the business strategy. “I firmly believe that going green is a Corporate Culture. It requires a combination of top-down and bottom-up approach,” asserts Marolia.

It is also crucial to define the key metrics in the green journey so that organizations can track their progress and establish future benchmarks. Finally, as going green is not a destination, but a journey so there is a need for long-term commitment and sustained efforts from organizations towards meeting their green goals.

Article by
Shweta Nanda, Assistant Editor
Engineering Review

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