OPINION: How green are your maintenance operations?
October 19, 2023 | By Mario Cywinski
Climate change. Global warming. Sustainability. Environmentally friendly. Greener. The list of words that speak to the same idea are endless. However, they all come down to one thing, making sure that whatever companies do, it is not damaging the environment for the future.
The idea of being environmentally friendly is not new. You can go back to reducing the use of electricity (by turning off lights, using lower wattage bulbs), or even recycling as much waste as possible. The difference now is that the simple idea has morphed into something that is in many respects very complex and at many companies a department (or at least a dedicated employee) is responsible for the green initiatives.
To get a deeper look at how maintenance affects the environment, and how it can be more sustainable; we spoke to cross-section of maintenance and asset management experts.
One of the most cited issues that need to be addressed and has an impact on the environment was leaks, which caused emissions to escape. For many assets/machines, simply performing condition monitoring by using various tools to check for leaks (imaging, ultrasound, vibration), can have a profound effect.
Also, overall having maintenance done regularly on assets, can make sure they run smoother for a longer period and decreases the need for costly repairs and in the worst circumstances, replacements. Each repair and/or replacement increases the environmental impact, as parts/machinery/equipment need to be disposed of.
While many plants have been reducing their emissions, some still have a long way to go. Driving by an industrial area with large plants and seeing all the smoke coming from the stacks tells you more can be done.
But what? We asked our experts to point out how facilities can make themselves more eco-friendly in the short and long term.
Here are some of their comments:
James Reyes-Picknell – “Short term upgrade to improve energy efficiency, waste handling, use newer technologies when replacing older systems and equipment. Long term consider programs aimed at energy efficiency, improved air quality, balancing of air distribution and exhaust systems.”
Stan Shantz – “Short term, focus on setting up measures and implementing simple CI initiatives. Longer term, implement measures that can track and quantify asset management and maintenance operations’ impact on the corporate environmental sustainability initiative.”
Hugues Therrien – “The first step is to identify the performance of assets today. Which elements of a plant have the potential for efficiency improvements? There are a lot of low hanging fruits that can be targeted with the right focus. It then comes down to planning the activities for improvement and prioritizing the opportunities with the biggest impact.”
Susan Lubell – “Considering increased use of electric vehicles when the travel distances are within range and charging facilities exist or are being built. Locations of new or expanded production facilities near public transit or providing company transit like shuttle buses to encourage staff to carpool. Ongoing training of maintenance workers to be able to maintain the newer equipment.”
Erika Mazza – “Applying for incentive programs can help drive the change in the short term. Starting to be green not just on the strategic level but on the practical level, on all aspects of the work environment, it needs to become a culture of working green.”
Read the Greening Maintenance Operations article on page 20 of our September issue.