Green Manufacturer hosted a day-long workshop at Steelcase last week that highlighted the leading office furniture manufacturer and forum member’s recent efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of its finishing operations. It was a great opportunity to highlight how a company can dramatically increase profitability by systematically reducing waste.
This is a particularly tricky issue for finishing operations, where a best practice powder coating process is only getting 60% of paint on the product. Water and costly chemicals are literally evaporating and/or being flushed down the drain.
By working closely with its suppliers (chemical firm DuBois, Sherwin Williams) and asking them to find creative solutions, Steelcase was able to reinvent a number of key processes at its Kentwood plants over the course of a few short years.
Some quick stats from investments made on a pretreatment line (per year):
- 52 million gallons of water saved
- Up to 60% reduction in BTUs
- Up to 30% less chemical volume
- Up to 50% savings in labor costs
- Total savings of more than $1 million.
Green Manufacturer has a case study on the DuBois partnership in its latest issue, which happens to be covered by Mary Ellen Mika, Steelcase’s Sustainability & Energy Manager, Global Procurement. Read it online here.