Sometimes the simplest solution has the biggest impact. As Denso associates work to find ways to be an environmentally-friendly business, they discovered they can also save the company money.
During a press tour billed as Denso Green Ways, Rosanne Burkhart and Chad Carruthers in the Electronics Dept. 550 shared how their team discovered a way to save money and reduce waste. During the production process of electronic components, they learned they were discarding 34 percent of the solder paste used in the process.
Their team came up with the idea of using a spatula to scrape the solder paste back to what’s known as the main bead of solder paste, allowing it to be processed.
“We saw exciting results, savings of $45,000,” said Carruthers. “We saw an 8,174 lb. decrease in waste in ‘06-’07.”
The Denso Green Ways press tour was at the Maryville operations at Plant 101 on Robert C. Jackson Drive and at Plant 203 just off Middle Settlements Road. Anne Klebenow in media relations at Denso, said the press tour at the Maryville operations is about getting the word out on Denso’s environmentally friendly work.
“This whole effort is to let the public know the extent of Denso’s environmental achievements and environmentally friendly products,” she said.
Julie A. Kerr, senior manager in corporate communications with Denso, said the company first did a similar event in 2006 when they rolled out their North American Eco Vision 2015. This most recent effort was geared toward showing the public where the company is now in its environmental efforts, she said.
Bob Booker, senior manager of legal services and corporate compliance, said the company invests in its associates. “In order for us to be successful and produce the quality products we have, we have to train our associates,” he said.
Bob Townsend, director of North American environmental safety and health, talked about Eco Vision 2015, Denso’s long-term environmental vision. “It’s important to point out it’s broken up into two five-year environmental action plans,” he said.
Denso personnel and management will use information gleaned from 2005 to 2010 to achieving goals from 2010 to 2015.
Townsend said the major goals for the overall program are preventing global warming, recycling resources and reducing hazardous substances.
To achieve their goals, there are four separate plans: an Environmental Action Plan dealing with management, products, factory and eco-friendly products; an Action Plan which reinforces “consolidated management;” an Eco-Management component which creates global, regional and local environmental and safety committees and an audit that reinforces safety, environmental and quality activities.
Each of the manufacturing facilities Denso has throughout North America has environmental and safety committees. Committees also develop action plans and incorporate local staff on environmental and safety groups.
The eco products Denso builds at the Maryville operation that help the environment include the SC Alternator which uses less raw materials and delivers more power with less fuel; a PA starter that reuses 90 percent of the internal scrap aluminum; UC fuel injectors that increase fuel efficiency; an ignition coil that is compact, high performance and improves fuel efficiency and monolithic carriers with ultra thin walls and improve fuel efficiency.
Through the Eco-Factory plan, Denso hopes to reduce impact on the environment during the production process. Booker said that several different emissions had been substantially reduced. Denso had a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 18 percent by 2010. They had already reduced those emissions by 29 percent in 2007, he said.
Booker said Denso associates set a goal of reducing landfill waste by 75 percent by 2010. As of 2007, they had reduced it by 95 percent. Associates charted a course for reducing water usage by 50 percent by 2010 and had reduced it by 63 percent as of 2007, Booker said.
Mike Fontinell, an environmental engineering staff member with Denso, said that associates also considered how to profit from being good environmental stewards. “The economy is tough. How can we make sure we’re contributing to our company’s bottom line?” he said.
Fontinell said Denso in Maryville covers 158 acres with eight buildings. “We have a large foot print,” he said. He said associates came up with ideas for reducing pollution. In 1999, they sent 2,812 tons of trash to the landfill. By 2007, they were only sending 136 tons annually to the landfill. “It’s a tremendous decrease. That’s been done at a time when the number of associates was rising, and we were growing and selling more products,” he said.
The associates are also helping to generate revenue through recycling, the company said, giving these figures:
n In 2003, they received $218 per ton of recycled material and in 2007 that figure had jumped to $596 per ton.
n In 2003, the trim taken from router scrap cost the company $.04 cents a pound to recycle. They found a different company to take the scrap in 2007 that paid Denso $.50 cents a pound.
n In 2007, the company was receiving $39 a ton for recycled cardboard. In 2008, they received $110 a ton.
The new building opened in April where electronic components for items such as electronic safety products boasted a design considered more environmentally friendly. There were hand dryers in the restrooms, air chillers considered more efficient than air conditioners yet able to keep the interior of production facilities about 10 degrees cooler than outside and columns were situated so production equipment took up less floor space.
“It also has more use of natural lighting,” Booker said of the 158 skylights.
Booker said associates work hard to make a difference in the environment in their homes and at their jobs. “A lot of it is not in doing one large thing but in doing small things,” he said.
Fontinell said they also switched from a convection oven curing method to an infrared system that applies heat directly to the paint on alternators. “It’s much more efficient and quicker,” he said.
Denso associates also have learned how reusing cardboard can keep waste out of landfills.
“We reuse 2,500 pieces of cardboard a month,” said Scott Ferguson of Denso in reference to the facility where alternators are produced
Other initiatives that contribute toward making the company more environmentally friendly deal with paint and lighting. There are now more lights with reflection panels situated closer to work stations as well as the more than 150 skylights that bring in natural light in the newest building. Another initiative involves using water-based paint on a part of instrument clusters built at the Maryville Denso operations.
Recycling goes on throughout the Denso property. A recycler picks up recycled material from specially marked bins strategically located throughout the plants, said Senior Manager David Byrum of Denso said.
“We have a contractor go around every 30 minutes,” Fontinell said. “We have a person who picks up router trim, cardboard, cover cases and hazardous waste.”
Denso also purchased a machine that cleans the plates utilized in the soldering process. Fontinell said the equipment means less isopropyl alcohol, considered a hazardous material, is used, and employees don’t have to scrub the plates themselves. “That’s why we invested in this equipment. It improves the process but we’re doing it in an environmentally friendly way,” he said.