There is a growing effort and coordination happening today towards dealing with global emissions. Foremost in everyone’s mind is moving away from fossil fuel and into clean energy as we move to solar, wind, and geological sources of power. But how we get our energy is just one part of the solution. One other area of concern is in how we make things.
Manufacturing accounts for 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions, a fifth of the world. More specifically, the cement, iron, steel, fertilizers, and chemical industries predominantly produce the bulk of these emissions. That’s why it warrants attention, commitment and effort from everyone.
Greener technology might just mean using better longer-lasting materials resulting in savings on the long haul such as the use of a chromium carbide plate. This is a steel component that absorbs impact and vibration energy and creates a composite material that is more impact and abrasion resistant than any single material on the market.
There are a number of other ways emission reduction is done in the manufacturing industry. Through advanced technology, manufacturers are able to increase productivity and reduce cost and waste of energy which in turn reduces industrial emissions. These fall under industry-specific solutions and cross-cutting solutions.
Industry-specific solutions directly deal with greenhouse gas emissions within industrial processes. Solutions under these direct emission solutions include process improvements, application of carbon capture and storage, and a move towards weaning itself away from carbon-intensive materials and processes.
Cross-cutting strategies look to solutions that indirectly cut down on emissions. Cross-cutting strategies pertain to being more energy-efficient through electrification of its processes and using other alternatives such as hydrogen and biomass.
A list of methods shows how manufacturers often deal with lowering emissions.
Tracking Energy Use
It means looking at every aspect of the manufacturing process and matching the data with the target energy efficiency decided on by the company. It means identifying those portions that require the most energy and using the most accurate measuring device to do so.
Bringing Down Energy Use
Knowing which portions of the process require the most energy allows for focused attention and effort to look for ways to bring down that energy requirement. Often times, the solution requires behavioral change such as policies of turning off unused lights, unnecessary computer use, and setting machines on stand-by when not in immediate use.
Moving To Greener Technology
This often involves making an investment to replace certain machinery in the process in order to realize lower energy costs, higher efficiency, or better product. It certainly would require planning and allocating funds for such a change.
The practice of recycling is very much applicable in the manufacturing environment. It simply requires forethought, planning, and carrying out the commitment. Recycling is not just about reusing waste products into an alternative resource for another part of the process. It may also be a means to expand the capacity of the plant. However, it must come after an effort to reduce waste in the first place.
Cutting Down Water Use
Water is an important part of most manufacturing. It’s really about making sure the volume of water used is actually put to use at work. This requires more careful process and behavioral observation with a policy in place to instill the culture of being frugal.
A manufacturing plant brings in raw material to produce a working and useful end product at the end of the process. Bringing down excess resources at the beginning of the manufacturing process results in more efficient use of existing resources to produce the product.
This year, more are working to this end. The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act, a bipartisan-bicameral bill passed by Congress early this year, is a much-needed step in the right direction. It is a law to hold small and medium-size manufacturers responsible to significantly bring down production emissions. It will also save consumers an estimated $5 billion in energy costs by 2040.
Larger manufacturers that account for 10% of all manufacturers’ energy demand are already inline with most industrial energy efficiency programs.
The sum total of all these practices and the laws supporting continue to lower emissions in any manufacturing process which leads to the reduction of the plant’s carbon footprint. It’s really not all just about incorporating the next new technology.