There’s a certain irony that metal fabrication companies who may fabricate wind turbines, solar panels or products that save energy for the transportation industry may themselves, lack in energy saving policies and procedures.
Why should a metal fabricator care about energy savings and sustainable production?
Well, first, it’s the right thing to do. We all should be looking at ways to use our resources more efficiently. There’s also the financial savings that can come with energy efficiency. But there are also two other significant reasons to get “greener”. Environmentally-friendly companies are more appealing to younger, millennial workers. Using sustainable practices can make you more appealing to this group. Finally, as more and more companies take their environmental responsibilities more seriously, they often look for like-minded partner companies with which to do business. So, in a quick recap, embracing a greener future can help you:
- Save the planet
- Save the money
- Recruit employees
- Build your business
It doesn’t take the construction of a solar or wind farm to be more energy efficient. In fact, those of us in metal fabrication can embrace a greener future by taking a look at three areas of our business.
1. Explore New Welding Methods
In 2017, we wrote a blog about advanced welding processes that may not only be more appropriate but may require less heat, thus less energy. While 80% or more of the projects we undertake use straightforward MIG applications these are the advanced welding methods available.
- Magnetic Arc Welding – Here, a magnetic field controls and rotates the arc to improve accuracy and speed. It also leaves a nice, clean finish.
- Friction – This is a solid-state welding process that moves the materials to be joined in opposite directions and joins them together quickly and hard.
- Explosive – A small amount of explosives are used to fuse two materials together.
- Ultrasonic – This technique uses high-frequency sound to create friction and heat to weld pieces together.
- Laser – Quick, clean and efficient lasers can be used for both cutting and welding.
- Electron Beam – This process fires high-energy electrons into the material which creates heat to weld the pieces.
Welding is a significant part of metal fabrication. Making use of the most advanced and practical applications available, especially those that save energy, makes a great deal of sense.
2. More Efficient Manufacturing and Production Techniques
At Wiley Metal, we took the step of hiring a Continuous Improvement Manager to help us in this area. But even if a metal fabricator doesn’t have such a position in their organization, they should understand that efficient production reduces waste and saves energy. This is an area that is far-reaching and can a significant impact on your operation. More efficient production and manufacturing techniques include areas like:
- Better planning
- Use of automation when practical
- Improved data analysis
- Improved organization
- Reduced resource and energy use
Reducing the carbon footprint of a metal fabrication plant can include everything from reducing paperwork to more efficiently separating material to be recycled. It can involve out-of-the-box thinking like shift-shifting in the heat of summer to earlier in the morning or later in the day. It is a chance to be creative.
3. Sustainable Business Programs
The EPA encourages Sustainable Business Programs and offers suggestions on how they should be implemented. According to the government’s website, manufacturer’s should:
- Address sustainability in a coordinated, integrated and formal manner, rather than in an ad hoc, unconnected and informal manner
- Focus on increased competitiveness and revenues rather than primarily focusing on cost-cutting, risk reduction and improved efficiency
- Use innovation, scenario planning and strategic analysis to go beyond compliance
- Integrate sustainability across business functions
- Focus more on the long-term
- Work collaboratively with external stakeholders
Reducing our Carbon Footprint
At Wiley Metal, working collaboratively with our client’s and stakeholders has always been a part of how we do business. Working together can also help reduce our combined carbon footprints. Like many metal fabricators, we have a long way to go, but if we maintain our focus, increasingly sustainable practices are sure to follow.
We encourage your efforts in building a greener future.