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Making amends for our carbon intensive past reaps financial rewards

Energy switching, zero fossil fuels, solar and woodland partnerships, coupled with a change in diet and travel, can all make a significant difference to CO2 emissions, and guess what? They also help a company to save and make more money, that was the message I endeavoured to deliver to delegates at the World Foundry Summit in May, says Alan Rance of Midas Pattern Company Ltd. 

Having committed to give a presentation about the #MidasGreenInitiative, I really did not want to let the World Foundry Organization (organisers of the event) down, but since agreeing to talk about our progress and share ‘best practice’ with fellow industrialists (over two years ago) I have made the commitment to not fly any more.

Catch 22 – I want to deliver the message and help other companies to embrace the journey to net zero, but I don’t want to add to the problem by boarding an aeroplane. Whilst I have every respect and understanding for the importance of travel, especially business travel, I personally have chosen to not fly in the future. The answer, of course in such a digitally advanced age was clear…a pre-recorded video presentation and the invitation for all delegates to contact me direct to discuss further.

I would like to thank the WFO and participants at the World Foundry Summit for their understanding in this matter and for their interest and keenness to pursue net zero.

Foundry Trade Journal readers know the story of why Midas commenced its carbon reduction programme, which ultimately led to the company becoming carbon neutral within 14 months and certified carbon neutral within 18 months. Here, I would just like to emphasise the key points raised during the World Foundry Summit, which are worth noting to help us all be successful in business whilst accepting our social responsibilities and working to reverse the damage we have all (including me) made to our planet.

 

No brainer – greener energy ‘tips’

First things first, review all energy use. Many companies are doing this now, especially with the current economic and trading conditions. 

Change your electricity supplier to a truly green provider, to negate a large proportion of carbon.

Then look at gas consumption. Biogas blends were readily available when we were looking, but we managed to find a 100 per cent biogas supplier. This reduced our carbon output and saved us from making a huge and unnecessary investment in upgrading our heating system.

Invest in solar PV technology – this communicates a commitment to customers and neighbours – it speaks ‘green’ loudly. We funded the investment using a finance arrangement. The cost of the finance was negated by the savings we made (from day one). Now, 39 per cent of our annual power consumption is generated from our own rooftops.

We’re an energy intensive business and on some bright days we don’t buy any energy from the grid. Obviously, this has added profit to the bottom line, and that’s from day one.

Lighting – LED is the obvious win. We embarked on an analysis of all lighting, undertook the easier adjustments first – fluorescents replaced etc. then moved on to the more complex fittings and replaced all lights with LED lights. They save up to two thirds compared to other lighting. We then supplemented this with light/motion sensors, the lights are thus off when areas are not in use.

We use a lot of compressed air, so we invested in newer technology to improve savings, then we looked at efficiency by reducing waste. We used solenoids to switch the airlines off when not necessary in our machining programmes – saving us 60 per cent of our running costs (a payback of 14 months plus a £20,000 reduction in costs each year).

We then looked at our waste removal situation. Refer to recent issues of Foundry Trade Journal for more details about the simple steps we took to make improvements in this area.

Indeed, all the above are simple changes that save money and save the planet.

 

Woodland partnerships

We took the decision to take responsibility for our customers’ carbon. However, offsetting is a truly contentious issue. Instead of investing in a government scheme, we signed a five-year partnership with a local community forest. Refer to the April/May 2022 issue of Foundry Trade Journal for more on this.

 

A successful and profitable future

As business progresses through the next five to ten years, carbon neutrality and business credentials will be at the forefront of retaining business, winning business, and most importantly retaining staff. I asked attendees at the World Foundry Summit to consider where their business will be in five to ten years’ time and I ask you to do the same.

Half the traffic on our website is directed at our green initiative, I believe that the 300 per cent increase in our order book over the last year is not just because of the sector we are in, the way we treat customers and our technical abilities, but also in part down to the fact that we are a carbon net zero business. We attract staff and customers because of this. The savings in energy also mean more profit. The investments you make strengthen your business.

My plea is: Do the very best that you can, we are engineers – when we set our minds to things, we can do anything with a pragmatic approach, one step at a time. Use your foundry common sense and your engineering intellect to apply yourself to the problem.

It’s time to #ActNow

Alan Rance MICME, Midas Pattern Company Ltd, www.midaspattern.co.uk/green-initiative