FOLLOW US Twitter CONTACT US FTJ Email address Phone number
 
SIX ISSUE ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION FROM JUST £205

Repair, re-purpose, re-use – a waste management philosophy that has paid dividends within three years

Readers will know of the enormous strides Midas Pattern Co Ltd has made in the past two and a half years to become a carbon-neutral business, thanks to our regular environmental column, where Midas MD Alan Rance MICME shares his tips on how going green can have a positive effect on the bottom line. Rance was the obvious person to talk to about waste management and the healthy financial impact this can have on a manufacturing company. Here he breaks down some of the improvements in waste management and housekeeping that Midas has undertaken to fast-trak the company’s journey to carbon net zero.

 

Reducing factory waste

Cardboard

Midas has a zero waste to landfill (certificated) waste management policy, that is to say ALL waste is recycled or used as RDF (refuse derived fuel) so we used to recycle all of the waste cardboard that came into the business and we felt good about that, but when we realised we could repurpose that cardboard ourselves and make use of it again before our customers recycled it, we knew we had to act. We purchased an industrial shredder and started to shred and use all our waste cardboard as a bulk filler within our packaging process. This meant that our waste cardboard provided one more use before recycling, highlighting our genuine green intent.

Design

Another significant reduction came about by design. We manufacture our tooling by CNC machining a pattern and then making a mould tool from that pattern. As we make enclosures up to 3m x 2m x 0.5m in size, some of our patterns are large and very heavy. Typically machined from polyurethane tooling board, we use huge amounts of raw material. We decided that by CAD modelling the ‘B’ surface of our patterns we could significantly reduce the amount of material we used. Of course, the additional CAD work and ‘blocking up’ would take extra time and add cost to the patternmaking but with some material cost reduction offsetting this, and the principle of producing much less waste being fundamental, we have been implementing this change for a couple of years now and have seen waste reduce significantly, along with a measurable reduction in raw material costs. Obviously, using less raw material and therefore producing less material waste must be environmentally positive.

Energy

Another significant aspect of waste reduction on our journey to net-zero is the recognition of how important it is to reduce wasted energy, after all energy use and its reduction is a massive part of any businesses carbon footprint. So, once we had secured a truly green electricity supply from Ecotricity we set about reducing the amount of power we wasted, we replaced all lights with LEDs, we installed motion sensing switches everywhere that was practical, ensured all PCs were turned off at night, optimised all overnight electrical heating systems and we went to great lengths to make our compressed air usage as low as possible by investing in the latest high efficiency compressors and inventing cut off solenoids on the air feeds to our CNCs. All these measures cost money to implement but save far more in the ‘not so long run’ – why wouldn’t you do that?

 

Biodegradable packaging solutions

We now shred all our own wastepaper, magazines, envelopes, even Christmas wrapping paper for use in our packaging. We also shred all our own cardboard and that of our three closest neighbours. 

All that shredded material is used in biodegradable starch bags as ‘packing pillows’ that support and nest our moulded enclosures when they are shipped. In addition, we now only use ‘brown paper’, ‘paper bubble’, ‘paper tape’, ‘paper strapping’ and ‘starch-based biodegradable shrink wrap’ in our packaging, thus negating all single use plastics from our packaging processes. 

Thus, not only do we give waste materials a new purpose and a re-use, but we also save a great deal of money on the way to those materials being finally recycled. We think this clearly shows how being environmentally responsible is intrinsically linked with saving money.

 

All waste accounted for

All paper waste is reused by Midas as previously described. All coffee machines use paper cups that are collected, segregated, and sent off for bespoke recycling. All tin cans are collected and recycled.

We have separate contractors to collect the paper cups and tin cans so that we can be sure they are properly recycled. All polyurethane waste – whether tooling board, swarf, PuR waste or moulded PuR waste – is segregated and collected by companies that re-process it and re use it, either as bulk filler or to recycle it into new material.

The balance of factory waste is placed in a single skip that is collected once a month and taken for sorting, recycling, and RDF (refuse derived fuel). We used to recycle 500kg a week and have our skip emptied once a week, the lorry travelled around 50 miles to collect and empty our waste. In our crusade to be truly green we invested in a waste compactor that enables us to squeeze 2000kg into our skip, meaning we only needed one collection a month, thus negating 150 lorry miles a month. This saved 150 miles per month of carbon emissions, particulate emissions, noise and social damage, we feel this kind of investment is what makes us truly green.

 

Good financial sense – the figures

The reduction in cardboard waste and its re-use in our packaging process negated the purchase of 40 large rolls of bubble wrap per month, this saved us around £1,500.00 per month. Our cardboard shredder cost us around £6,000.00, so payback was achieved in four months with an annual financial benefit to the business of approximately £18,000.00. 

With regards to our patternmaking material reduction, we now machine all patterns at around 50–100mm general wall thickness, rather than just machining solid blocks. We estimate that this has saved around 25 per cent of the material we used to use in the past on these larger patterns. Therefore, on a 3m x 2m x 0.5m pattern it is conceivable we would have used 35 of 100mm tooling boards costing around £6,000.00, so a saving of £1,500.00 is significant to the pattern cost and a huge reduction in the cost of the waste produced. 

As for our energy consumption, we data logged our compressor system before and after its replacement and the associated upgrades. This enabled us to clearly establish a saving of approximately 60 per cent of the energy we used to use in compressing our air, in real terms that’s approximately £25,000.00 per year, savings which paid back our new compressor system and the shut off valve systems on our CNC machines within approximately 14 months.

Investments in solar technology, energy usage reduction, energy efficient capital equipment, shredders, compactors, improvements to factory facilities, staff training, and website development have cost around £275,000.00 since April 2019. Savings from our solar generated power, energy savings, free packing materials, negated delivery costs and transport costs, are currently running at approximately £100,000.00 p/a increasing to around £130,000.00 p/a when our solar HP is cleared. Of course, the benefit to the business in terms of genuinely green PR, marketing and sales growth, along with staff retention, staff attraction and respect within the local and national business community, is priceless! It truly does pay to #ACTNow.

Midas Pattern Company Ltd, 22 Shuttleworth Road, Elm Farm Industrial Estate, Bedford MK41 0RX UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1234 358394, email: [email protected] web: www.midas-pattern.co.uk

#midasgreeninitiative Twitter: @Midas_Pattern

 

Repair, re-purpose, re-use philosophy

As manufacturers of the highest quality medical device enclosures, Midas knows that customers will eventually upgrade or redesign their devices which will make the enclosures redundant and therefore reach their end of life. To make their lifespan as long as possible, Midas actively encourages all customers to return their enclosures to the company when they are damaged, or the paint is scuffed or marked for a refurbish or full repaint.  This often means completely flatting the paint and reapplying the multiple colours required. Once painted the product may well need to be screen printed again as often logos or branding are screen-printed in epoxy ink for durability. 

Once complete, this refurbish and respray (just as you would envisage on a well-used classic car) ensures the enclosure will look pristine for many more years and hopefully means the customer will delay introducing a new product prematurely.  In addition to the full refurbish, Midas also offers a rebranding facility whereby they can remove stickers or screen printed logos etc. and even mask to introduce new colours and schemes, once again this can give the product a whole new lease of life which avoids environmentally unfriendly replacement or scrappage.

“In our minds anything we can do to extend the service life of our enclosures and therefore the instruments they enshroud has to be a good thing for the environment and our planet,” says Alan Rance.