Sustainable manufacturing brings bottom line benefits

Toyota Australia has saved $27,305 – and is expecting to save a whole lot more – through implementing sustainable manufacturing techniques at its Altona manufacturing facility. Hartley Henderson writes.

MANUFACTURING enter prises across a wide variety of industries are increasingly finding that imple mentation of sustainability pro grams can deliver substantial benefits, not only for the envi ronment, but also in relation to productivity improvement and the bottom line.

Add to this a smart employee involvement system to get work ers involved, and one Australian car manufacturer has seen posi tive results in both revenue and engagement.

At its fully-integrated manu facturing plant in the Melbourne suburb of Altona, where the Camry, Hybrid Camry and V6 Aurion are built, Toyota Australia produced a record 96,817 vehi cles and 95,873 engines in 2009.

The company’s direct environ mental impacts include energy and water consumption, emis sions from energy use, volatile organic compound emissions from the use of paint, waste gen eration, and indirect emissions from transporting vehicles and parts. Toyota Australia’s Environment Management System (TEMS) is the key busi ness system used to manage environmental risks, ensure legal compliance and promote continu ous improvement.

According to environment poli cy manager, Jon Ward, TEMS is a human system that engages employees to help Toyota man age its environmental footprint.

“Each manufacturing shop at the plant has a TEMS team and employees on that team are responsible for identifying, developing and implementing projects that will improve Toyota’s environmental perform ance,” he explained.

“Many of the initiatives that have significantly reduced ener gy use, water consumption, and improved recycling rates at the plant have been generated by employees.

“During the global financial crisis we made use of non-pro duction days to run site-wide training including clean produc tion/environmental awareness training to employees to help them to manage their individual environmental footprint and bet ter contribute to site-wide TEMS initiatives.”

With a strong focus on continu ous improvement, significant results are being achieved across the Altona manufacturing plant operations, including the Powertrain Shop, Press Shop, Weld Shop, Paint Shop and Assembly Shop.

In the Powertrain Shop for example, wastewater generated through cleaning metal dies was previously treated off-site at a cost of 31c per litre. Now it is diverted to an onsite treatment plant before being discharged to sewer, resulting in savings of $15,405 pa. Also, there was no method for reclaiming coolant from swarf, the coolant was going to waste at high cost, and there was a low return on loose swarf.

Powertrain Shop manager, Steve Lampard, says that every day approximately 800 litres of coolant is now reused and 2.5 tonnes of aluminium briquettes is diverted from the waste stream and sold to a recycler, resulting in total savings of $607,000 pa and a return on investment of just 6 months.

Action to improve material yield in the panel Press Shop focussed on cutting the steel as close to the actual part dimen sion as possible. In 2005/06 521.09 Kg of steel was needed per vehicle, whereas for 2009/10 507.85 Kg was needed, providing a total saving of $21.48 per vehi cle. In addition, changes to enable compressed air to be sup plied from the Paint Shop rather than from an old compressor in the Press Shop, have delivered a total saving of $3.43 per vehicle.

According to Press Shop man ager, Graeme Temperley, Press Shop productivity has improved 40% percent in 4 years.

Major advances have also been achieved in the Weld Shop by reducing by 50 percent the amount of copper tips used by 203 robots to weld vehicle bod ies, resulting in total savings pa of $529,827.

Also, action is being taken to reduce electricity, gas and water usage in the Paint Shop, already resulting in savings totalling $27,305.

Toyota Australia www.toyota.com.au