It’s all green for Symbion Consumer

Environmentally friendly - Symbion Consumer wins the Environmental Solution of the Year Award with CaromaDorf highly commended. Katherine Crichton reports from this year's Endeavour Awards.

Environmentally friendly – Symbion Consumer wins the Environmental Solution of the Year Award with CaromaDorf highly commended. Katherine Crichton reports from this year’s Endeavour Awards.

WHEN health product manufacturer Symbion Consumer realised its Yarraman Place facility located in Brisbane had the largest water usage out of all the company’s manufacturing sites, with peak consumption approaching 20ML in 2004-2005, the company knew something had to be done.

Approximately 70% of the water is utilised in operational areas with the remainder used in building services, such as toilets, kitchens and showers.

In 2005/2006, production efficiency was increased but internal wastage and rework levels were high, resulting in record high batch production and consequently water use.

The company submitted a water efficiency management plan to Brisbane Water committing to reducing water consumption by a further 25% over two years.

Key areas were targeted to improve the company’s knowledge of water use points and reduce high use areas.

A facility review was conducted to identify areas for improvement and a number of actions were identified. These included reducing water usage in the tablet coater and wash clean processes, install a number of water monitoring devices such as sub meters on all high use points, install water tanks to capture and use rain water and communicate actions to all staff onsite.

Over a three year period the facility has reduced water consumption by more than 50% by targeting efficiency improvements with minimal capital expense. FY08 average water use per month is below target and is likely to achieve further reductions.

Water use in the tablet coater has been reduced by 50% per wash. This was achieved by analysing the minimum water required to achieve the same validated result.

The changes have not only reduced energy consumption and increased productivity, but they have drawn the attention of the Endeavour Award judges, all of whom unamiously awarded Symbion with the 2008 Environmental Solution Award.

Scott Levitt, Manufacturing Manager with Symbion Consumer, said everyone at the company was surprised but very pleased to hear they had won the award.

“It is very rewarding to be recognised for our water saving efforts as our primary focus is manufacturing but we wanted to integrate environmentally efficient processes within our operations,” Levitt said.

“This award shows that manufacturing and the environment can go hand in hand, particularly at a time when everyone is thinking about water conservation.”

Levitt went on to explain since level six water restrictions were introduction in Queensland, there has been a very heightened awareness about water management and conservation.

“When you win an award like this when other companies are looking at pushing eco friendly products and customers are looking to buy these products, having our efforts recognised and being able to talk about it is really beneficial from a marketing point of view.”

Levitt extended his gratitude to Manufacturers Monthly and category sponsors Atlas Copco for the opportunity to enter the Endeavour Awards. “This achievement will just spur us on to do bigger and better things when it comes to environmentally conscious manufacturing.”

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Based in Wetherill Park, NSW, CaromaDorf is a designer and manufacturer of commercial sanitary-ware and bathroom products.

For over 50 years, slip casting in plaster moulds has been the heart the company’s labour intensive production processes. Recent significant capital investment in new production and safety equipment including pressure casting technology, manual handling robotics and laser guided vehicles, has given the facility a ‘heart transplant’, with the same scrutiny given to the company’s manufacturing operations.

Part of the company’s production process of its glazed vitreous china product involves robotic spray carousels. An inherent consequence of this process is a significant amount of ‘overspray’ glaze, which is estimated at 40% of total glaze usage. Current daily glaze usage is 6t per day, 300 days per year.

The company then decided to investigate ways in which the glaze can be recovered and implemented a reclamation system.

On a daily basis, the system now recovers 1.8t of reusable glaze from captured overspray. Furthermore, the reclamation is generating 9,000L of water per day of suitable quality for reuse in the facility.

All water output from the Xtract system is collected and re-used in cleaning processes and the production of virgin glaze – which were previously supplied from mains water. This water saving of 2,700kL per year would have traditionally been discharged to the sewer.

Reclamation has minimised the exposure of these compounds to landfill soil (by over 70%) and employees (factory and waste management).

A very pleased Dan Thompson, Project Manager with CaromaDorf, accepted the award on behalf of the company at the Endeavour Awards gala dinner held in May.

“Because there were a couple of environmental benefits to be gained in our manufacturing processes, we were very satisfied for being recognised for this award as water conservation is a big focus for us throughout our manufacturing processes,” Thompson told Manufacturers Monthly.

“It’s part of our company philosophy to market ourselves as a water conservative manufacturer. We began this in the 80s when we created the dual flush system and have been doing it ever since. Using this process we experience three benefits in one: save money, water and materials.”