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In-depth sustainability study on Aviemore manufacturing site highlights opportunities for change

The journey to Net Zero[1] is not easy for manufacturing businesses. There is pressure to look at processes, raw material content and waste management in terms of impact on the environment. Through WMG’s internship scheme, international firm Hydrasun tackled this, uncovering a wealth of insight that could drive real change not only for them but across the entire supply chain.

Challenge - How to map a site’s carbon footprint?

HydrasunLink opens in a new window is a leading specialist provider of integrated fluid transfer, power, and control solutions to the oil and gas, renewable energy, OEM, marine, and defence industries worldwide. They were keen to research their overall carbon footprint for the Precision Manufacturing Division based in Aviemore, Scotland. The Division is the centre of excellence for precision manufacturing to the Hydrasun group and provides a range of high quality bespoke and Hydrasun brand products. They knew that the global rate of resource consumption was not sustainable and that they had a social responsibility to step up and start making changes. They were looking to achieve, in the long term a net zero manufacturing position. Starting this process earlier on would cement their reputation with clients and give them the opportunity to share best practice across the sector.

Solution – Recruit a skilled intern.

Through a supplier who are undertaking a Knowledge Transfer PartnershipLink opens in a new window with WMG, Hydrasun heard about our expertise in process manufacturing and sustainability and got in touch with Dr Paul Lansdell. Paul suggested that WMG could support Hydrasun map their Aviemore manufacturing site’s carbon footprint through their internship schemeLink opens in a new window. A recent graduate or undergraduate would conduct the data gathering and analysis and Paul would supervise and share his knowledge.

Declan Kelly, a graduate in Chemical and Process Engineering at Strathclyde University joined Hydrasun with a BIG remit. Over 12 weeks he was assigned to:

  1. Examine the overall carbon footprint of the supply chain in terms of production and transport through collaboration with suppliers.
  2. Assess the efficiency of the conversion processes at the Aviemore site, looking at the rate of input versus waste and finished product output.
  3. Map the scrap recycling routes in terms of their carbon footprint and identify any issues.

He was not intimidated by the task saying: “This gave me the chance to explore exactly what is involved in a manufacturing organisation and how sustainability issues can be identified and resolved.”

Declan spent time engaging with key suppliers and traced materials from the place of origin and along the route of supply. He weighed all outgoing products over a month and undertook analysis to determine the alloy and form of the raw materials used in Hydrasun’s production processes. Through existing systems, he was also able to determine and quantify the waste product. He visited the company’s main waste management partner and looked at the company’s current recycling routes and methods.

Findings and next steps

  • Declan discovered that approximately ¼ of emissions identified in the supply of raw materials to Hydrasun was attributable to material transport. With investment in new technology such as AI to optimise schedules and transport routes there is potential to reduce this significantly.
  • Declan’s work highlighted to the company that there was considerably more material wastage during the manufacturing process than was initially believed. There is huge potential here for Hydrasun to optimise the processes, re-design products, and switch metal forms to reduce wastage.
  • Declan made some suggestions for how Hydrasun could improve their recycling processes and management of SWARF and highlighted the importance of separating out valuable alloys.

Don Morrison, Divisional Manager - Precision ManufacturingLink opens in a new window said:

“This internship was truly eye opening for us. Declan highlighted that there is work to do on our sustainability mission. We have a commitment to our clients and the wider public to be more responsible and are wholeheartedly looking forward to actively pursuing collaboration with upstream and downstream business partners to drive meaningful change.”

Dr Paul Lansdell, Innovation ManagerLink opens in a new window at WMG said:

“What Declan achieved in the time frame was impressive. The positive thing about a project like this is that if Hydrasun implement Declan’s recommendations, they’ll not only lower resource consumption and waste in the business but decrease costs and enhance profit margins so it really is a win-win situation.”

Declan Kelly, Intern said:

“This project has strengthened my conviction that businesses need to proactively take steps to reduce their impact on the environment. I am really interested in developing a career in sustainability now.”

How to reduce your carbon footprint – a manufacturer’s road to Net Zero

  • Step 1 Engage the whole supply chain in your mission, both upstream and downstream partners. Tell them about your plans, they may have similar objectives, and you can work together on your mission. Transportation of goods is a good place to start.
  • Step 2 Sort out your data so that you can pull off valuable information about production efficiency. It is likely existing MRP or ERP systems can be optimised to help you do this.
  • Step 3 Do some analysis on your raw materials, looking at their properties and strength. Perhaps you can replace existing materials with others, mix in recyclable materials, or change the form for better efficiency rates and less carbon intensity.
  • Step 4 Do your research on material end of life and waste management. Ensure you are fully aware of the implications on the environment so that you can work with your scrap management partner more effectively.

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Tue 21 Mar 2023, 08:00 | Tags: SME