Manufacturing Strategy for Window Fabricators 16 - Environmental management

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Environmental management is not simply a cost and a burden. It can be a real method of increasing profits and decreasing the effect on the environment.


A review of the basics by Robin Kent of Tangram Technology.

  Download Adobe Acrobat file of complete series to date

Clean business = good business

Environmental management systems are rapidly becoming an important issue throughout manufacturing industry and the window industry (at all levels) is no exception. Many companies are under pressure from customers and consumers to prove their ‘environmental credibility’ and this means that they need to develop a credible Environmental Management System (EMS). These are external pressures but perhaps the most important reason for developing an EMS is that it can save money. Companies who have implemented an EMS have often not only improved their environmental performance but have also achieved substantial cost reductions.

An EMS with a strong emphasis on minimising waste and continual improvement will undoubtedly help a company to reduce costs.

A good EMS is not simply a paperwork exercise; it is a practical management tool and will help:

·  Identify, assess and manage the environmental consequences of operations.

·  Reduce waste and operating costs.

·  Gain a competitive advantage.

·  Establish and show a system for continual environmental improvement.

·  Demonstrate compliance with legal obligations.

·  Improve the public image.

Waste minimisation and EMS

Instead of the typical route of having an EMS focused on completing the paperwork it is possible to have an EMS focused on waste minimisation. This will produce cost reductions from reduced waste, scrap, rework and energy use.

The average UK window fabricator has a waste rate of over 15% - this is not simply the sawing waste which is all many people concentrate on, but is the overall waste generated in the factory from all types of waste processes. This waste increases operating costs and reduces capacity from the lost opportunity to produce saleable product.

Eliminating or reducing waste gives environmental benefits by reducing the use and waste of resources and reduces costs. Environmental management systems are a ‘win-win’ for most companies – if only they care to get involved.

EMS basics

An effective EMS includes:

·  An assessment of the environmental aspects and impacts of the company’s activities, products, processes and services.

·  An environmental policy.

·  An environmental improvement programme with objectives and targets.

·  Identified roles and responsibilities for all employees.

·  A training and awareness programme.

·  Written procedures to control activities with a significant environmental impact.

·  A controlled system of records.

·  A programme of regular auditing.

·  A formal review process for the EMS.

In many ways an EMS is similar to existing Quality Management Systems and these two Management systems can be easily integrated into one system that is easily managed. If you have BS EN ISO 9001 then you are probably 60% there in terms of getting an EMS up and running.

Approaches to EMS

An EMS can be developed to comply with the ISO 14001 model and for companies with BS EN ISO 9001 this is probably the easiest and most straightforward approach. It is also possible to follow the EC Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) or even to develop an in-house EMS if you do not want to go for formal certification and recognition.

It is not necessary to get external recognition of an EMS to obtain many of the benefits but the formal approach increases the commitment to continual improvement and to identifying opportunities for ongoing improvements and cost savings. External recognition increases the credibility of an EMS with customers and suppliers and provided the EMS has been systematically and properly implemented then the actual certification process does not require much more effort.

Key factors for success

Gain senior management commitment

Strong senior management commitment is essential to ensuring the successful implementation and operation of an EMS.

The benefits and aims of the EMS should be explained to senior managers before starting the implementation process. Convincing senior managers will require a project plan and a detailed estimate of the potential costs and also the potential cost savings from adopting an EMS.

Build on existing systems

There will be links between existing quality management, health and safety management and other management systems.

These links should be reinforced and not re-invented. It is environmentally good to re-use so do it with procedures as well, e.g. document control procedures used in other management systems should be suitable for use in the EMS and should be adopted by the EMS for consistency and ease of development.

Getting certified

To be ready for certification to ISO 14001, the EMS should have been fully operational for at least three months and at least one Management Review should have been conducted. For initial registration, participants need to have a fully operational EMS with an audit programme already in place and started, and to produce an initial and validated Environmental Statement.

Many companies use the same certification body for their EMS as for their QMS. However, it is important to check that the certifier is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) for ISO 14001 certification. Check that the proposed certifier/verifier has relevant experience in the window industry.

Certifiers use a range of methods for certification. Be sure to understand the different stages of the proposed certification process and what the certifier will be looking for at each stage. Ask the chosen certifier to run through the process of certification.

Before the certifier visits the site for the first time, hold a meeting to ensure everyone knows about the certification and what it will entail.

An ‘Initial Review’ will help to gather the data that will give a ‘snapshot’ of the status with environmental issues. Regular reviews will help to quantify the savings made and maintain the momentum for implementing the EMS.

Formal certification of an EMS is a significant milestone but it is not the end of the journey. Every EMS needs continued attention to deliver further improvement and savings. Senior managers must appreciate this - otherwise the initial enthusiasm for the EMS may decline after certification is achieved.

 

The EMS implementation process

Implementing an EMS based on waste minimisation follows a simple process that is repeated to continuously improve performance, reduce waste and improve profits.

What to do next

Implementing an EMS with a focus on waste minimisation and continual improvement will reduce costs and improve environmental performance. The practical steps in implementing an EMS are:

·  Understand the main elements of an EMS to ISO 14001 and become familiar with the standard’s requirements.

·  Appoint someone to oversee the implementation and operation of the EMS.

·  Develop an environmental policy.

·  Identify the company’s environmental aspects, evaluate their significance and draw up an Aspects Register.

·  Identify legislative requirements and draw up a Register of Legislation.

·  Set objectives and targets.

·  Assign responsibility.

·  Develop employee awareness and conduct training.

·  Prepare procedures to deliver operational and document control.

·  Implement a programme of regular monitoring and measurement of significant aspects, e.g. waste, water use and energy use.

·  Develop an internal audit mechanism and timetable.

·  Review progress and, if necessary, revise the policy, objectives and targets.

Free external help

·         ‘Waste Minimisation Pays: Five business reasons for reducing waste’ (GG125).

·         ‘Environmental Management Systems Workbook for Engineering Manufacturers’ (GG205).

'Manufacturing Strategy' Series.

The 'Manufacturing Strategy' series is designed to give window fabricators a set of ideas for managing production. The series is being published in Fenestra on a monthly basis and published here after the Fenestra publication. The series is:

Part 1: The Essential Part 
Part 2: The Systems
 
Part 3: Just-in-Time

Part 4: Optimised Production Technology

Part 5: Work Cells

Part 6: Machines
Part 7: Machines (2)

Part 8: Scheduling

Part 9: Waste (Methods)

Part 10: Waste (Materials)

Part 11: Supply Chain

Part 12: Measurement
Part 13: Things to do NOW!
Part 14: The Cost of Quality

Part 15: The Hidden costs of inventory

Part 16: Environmental management

Part 17: Continuous Improvement

Last edited: 11/03/10

© Tangram Technology Ltd. 2005

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