By Adrian Kitching of Megaman UK
At the moment it seems as though every manufacturer is quoting ever increasing energy savings and jumping on the energy efficiency bandwagon in order to get you to specify their products.
That’s fine if the products do achieve the savings that they claim. But while all savings are good and any product which can help a company achieve genuine efficiencies should be applauded, isn’t it time we started to get our own houses in order?
Far too often energy efficiency claims are made by manufacturers about their products but if you look at the manufacturing process behind them, they are far from energy efficient and as an industry I think that it is time to take action.
Embrace quality management
For quality levels to rise and manufacturing to be more efficient we need to embrace a completely new process and look at total quality management programmes such as Six Sigma or TQM which strive to achieve continuous improvements.
Both of these processes provide a means to drive quality through a data driven approach which aims to eliminate defects in any process from manufacturing to accounting and services. They use a data based approach and encompass an extremely wide toolkit aiming to increase customer satisfaction, drive out errors and waste, reduce costs and importantly improve delivery.
While not everyone will subscribe to this theory, there is certainly an argument which says that every manufacturer should be more transparent – and by that I mean transparent about the processes which go into the manufacture of their products.
It is all too easy to launch a new product which claims to provide 80% savings over rival products, but as an industry what we need to do is start to ask questions; because it is time we started to understand and ultimately care about the energy which goes into the products in question.
I realise that for many people in this industry you already have a lot on your plate trying to achieve the latest Government targets and ensuring energy efficiency in every project or building that you are responsible for. But while this is indeed very important it does feel as though we are only scratching at the surface. For example if two products provide exactly the same energy efficiency when in use but one has a far more efficient manufacturing process, surely it makes sense to go for this option as you are effectively achieving a better result.
The problem of course lies in the fact that because manufacturers are not required to be transparent, getting hold of this type of information is virtually impossible. I therefore pose the question: shouldn’t every company be required to complete a sustainability audit and publish the findings?
This may sound like another green hurdle to cross but if everyone was required to do this we would have a better idea of the actual efficiency of the products which are on the market.
We have recently carried out our first sustainability audit and the report has provided a great insight into how far we have already come while at the same time helping us to put down some benchmarks and identify some challenges which we will aim to achieve in the years to come.
Our commitment to sustainability and the environment has long been an integral part of the company’s business focus and we continue to embrace a sustainable management strategy. But you would be forgiven for thinking that it is very easy for every company to say this – what we need to do is prove how we are putting it into practice.
Which brings me back to my original point about transparency. Our initial audit and report proves that we take our sustainability responsibilities seriously right across our value chain and that we are actively working to mitigate the environmental impact arising from the design and production of our products and our daily operations.
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if everyone did that? Not only would it mean that every manufacturer was operating on a level playing field, but it would also make your lives so much easier, allowing you to specify genuinely efficient products which have efficiency not just at the heart of the product, but throughout the life cycle of the manufacturing process.
So next time you are in the process of specifying products take a moment to think about the company behind the products and ask yourself if they are really as efficient as they claim to be. It may not be a mandatory part of the specification process but it should certainly be a deciding factor when energy efficiency is at stake.