A total factory approach to sustainability has won the Baltimore Aircoil Company the Environmental Solution of the Year award.
A completely holistic approach to environmental management, from the way the factory operates and its approach to sustainability through to better design and sourcing of its products and its manufacturing processes has seen Baltimore Aircoil win the Environmental Solution of the Year award.
Baltimore Aircoil Company (BAC) is a worldwide manufacturer and marketer of evaporative heat transfer and ice thermal storage products that it says "conserve resources and respect the environment".
It manufactures products at Somersby, on the New South Wales Central Coast.
All BAC's products are designed and manufactured to ensure extended product operating life as well as provision for recycling materials once decommissioned.
A large majority of its products are produced from sheet metal material purchased locally to reduce the "carbon miles" associated with the equipment.
BAC has gone as far as designing a whole new line of heat rejection equipment that doesn't require chemical water treatment.
This equipment, known as the 3C Cooler, can reject heat from a process (similar to a closed circuit cooling tower) while using up to 80 per cent less water and without requiring chemical dosing which would inevitably end up in our sewerage system.
It developed its environmental approach through its aim of sustainability through lean manufacturing.
It came about after a business review from Enterprise Connect highlighted the need to gain accurate data relating to the manufacture of its cooling tower units.
Continuing with improvements, BAC then employed the services of Synergy Management Consulting Group who trained several employees in the principles of 'Lean Manufacturing', with the result being that they received Certificates of Competence for "Lean Six Sigma Green Belt" Program was completed June 2011.
BAC says that in order to be sustainable and operate with better environmental practices it is continually 'reinvigorating' lean manufacturing.
Part of this 'reinvigoration' process has seen it set an objective of reducing waste in various mediums through a process of small steps to make a large difference.
These objectives are intended to be achieved by setting comprehensive benchmarks, with measurements being taken and reported quarterly and yearly.
It has cut annual electricity usage and associated carbon emissions by 11 per cent year on year, which it achieved simply by changing lights within the factory and office; installing a new compressor; reducing from two brake presses to one brake press; and buying a more energy efficient photocopier.
Further reductions in electricity are expected in the next financial year as some changes were made in the latter part of 2012 and are yet to show in their total reduction.
Air conditioning adjustments have also seen a 30.5 per cent reduction in gigajoule usage when comparing a five month period Aug-Dec 2011 Waste Management Program.
Employees have been encouraged to improve all methods of waste disposal at BAC. Major changes have occurred in the way waste was treated and recycled over 12 months include recycling waste steel, with 144.09 tonnes recycled; 59.91 tonnes of wood reused; and a 20 per cent increase in the amount of paper recycled.
It also managed to reduce its carbon footprint by redirecting waste to a nearby tip, cutting 500 kilometres of travel annually.
However BAC states that culture change has been one of its most successful ventures, as more employees are becoming aware of its commitment to sustainability, and assisting change to protect the environment.
Looking ahead, Baltimore Aircoil plans to visit the Research and Development site at Newcastle University this year to investigate the solar paint that is being produced to reduce electricity costs.
Time frame is that the initial work will involve a two week study.
BAC says it is proud of its environmental performance through its commitment to reductions in resource use; designing products to boost end user efficiency while taking responsibility for its impact on the environment and respecting the communities in which it operates.
All BAC products are engineered to minimise lifecycle costs through a combination of low energy consumption and low maintenance.
An extensive array of product/options addresses such issues as sound, energy and reduced water consumption requirements.
BAC is currently enrolled in the Sustainability Advantage Program, with a plan to achieve Platinum recognition in three years.
It is also working through a Continual Improvement Program which involves benchmarking the company, in order to recognise opportunities and adopt 'best practices'.
Internationally, Baltimore Aircoil is an employee-owned company, which encourages an entrepreneurial spirit throughout our organisation.
This culture helps BAC respond successfully to new opportunities and consistently improve its manufacturing methods.
Image: Grant Hall, Director of Marketing and Sustainability at BAC