FUJIFILM Cracks the Energy Code

FUJIFILM was in trouble at its Dayton, Tennessee plant in 2008 where it produced a variety of speciality chemicals for industrial use. Compressed-air breakdowns were having knock-on effects. The company decided it was time to measure what was happening and solve the problem. It hoped to improve reliability, cut down maintenance, and eliminate relying on nitrogen for back-up (unless the materials were flammable).

The company tentatively identified three root causes. These were (a) insufficient system knowledge within maintenance, (b) weak spare part supply chain, and (c) generic imbalances including overstated demand and underutilised supply. The maintenance manager asked the U.S. Department of Energy to assist with a comprehensive audit of the compressed air system.

The team began on the demand side by attaching flow meters to each of several compressors for five days. They noticed that – while the equipment was set to deliver 120 psi actual delivery was 75% of this or less. They found that demand was cyclical depending on the production phase. Most importantly, they determined that only one compressor would be necessary once they eliminated the leaks in the system and upgraded short-term storage capacity.

The project team formulated a three-stage plan. Their first step would be to increase storage capacity to accommodate peak demand; the second would be to fix the leaks, and the third to source a larger compressor and associated gear from a sister plant the parent company was phasing out. Viewed overall, this provided four specific goals.

  • Improve reliability with greater redundancy
  • Bring down system maintenance costs
  • Cut down plant energy consumption
  • Eliminate nitrogen as a fall-back resource

They reconfigured the equipment in terms of lowest practical maintenance cost, and moved the redundant compressors to stations where they could easily couple as back-ups. Then they implemented an online leak detection and repair program. Finally, they set the replacement compressor to 98 psi, after they determined this delivered the optimum balance between productivity and operating cost.

Since 2008, FUJIFILM has saved 1.2 million kilowatt hours of energy while virtually eliminating compressor system breakdowns. The single compressor is operating at relatively low pressure with attendant benefits to other equipment. It is worth noting that the key to the door was measuring compressed air flow at various points in the system.

ecoVaro specialises in analysing data like this on any energy type.?

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When Carrefour Pushed the Right Buttons

Retail giant Carrefour based in Boulogne Billancourt, France is big business in anybody?s numbers. Europe?s #1 retailer opened its first store in 1958 near a crossroads (Carrefour means ?crossroad? in French) and has largely not looked back since then. The slogan for the hypermarket chain with more than 1,500 outlets and close to a half million employees is ?choice and quality for everyone?. Our story begins when Carrefour decided these things belong at home too.

The company implemented a worldwide universal responsibility program firmly anchored on a tripod of goals for environmental, economic and social progress. Its first step was to appoint a five-person project team tasked with liaising with program delegates in all thirty countries in which it operates, and who had responsibility for driving these goals.

The team?s job was to make sure that policies, standards, procedures and key performance areas were common visions throughout Carrefour. By contrast, the local managers? were tasked with aligning these specifics to local conditions in terms of environmental, political and social issues. The project team checked the fit quarterly via video conferences.

The Triple Bottom Line Goals were woven through with Carrefour?s Seven Core Values, namely Freedom, Responsibility, Sharing, Respect, Integrity, Solidarity and Progress. Constant contact was maintained with staff and other stakeholders through ?awareness training? seminars and other dialogues. As the program took hold and flourished, it became evident that the retail giant needed help with managing the constant stream of metrics flowing in.

After reviewing options, Carrefour appointed a software provider to monitor progress against its primary focuses on energy, water, waste, refrigeration, paper, disposable checkout bags, hygiene & quality, management gender parity, disabled people and logistics. This enabled it to track progress online against past performance, and produce meaningful reports.

The Environmental Manager in the Corporate Sustainability Department waxed lyrical when he said, ?We believe that our sustainability strategy and software solution have powerfully improved collaboration, innovation, and overall performance?. He went on to describe how it was helping drive cost down and profitability up, while simultaneously growing brand.

Non-conformance costs can be high and run counter to the imperative to make a profit – while simultaneously ensuring a better world for our children?s children. In Carrefour?s case, having a consultant to measure progress was the key that unblocked the administrative bottleneck. Irish company Ecovaro does this for companies around the world. Click here. Discover what we will do for you.

8 Reasons why you Need to Undertake Technical and Application Assessments

Are your information assets enabling you to operate more cost-effectively or are they just drawing in more risks than you are actually aware of? Obviously, you now need to get a better picture of those assets to see if your IT investments are giving you the benefits you were expecting and to help you identify areas where improvements should be made.

The best way to get the answers to those questions is through technical and application assessments. In this post, we?ll identify 8 good reasons why it is now imperative to undertake such assessments.

1. Address known issues – Perhaps the most common reason that drives companies to undertake a technology/application assessment is to identify the causes of existing issues such as those related to data accessibility, hardware and software scalability, and performance.

2. Cut down liabilities and risks – Unless you know what and where the risks are, there is no way you can implement an appropriate risk mitigation strategy. A technology and application assessment will enable you to thoroughly test and examine your information systems to see where your business-critical areas and points of failure are and subsequently allow you to act on them.

3. Discover emerging risks – Some risks may not yet be as threatening as others. But it would certainly be reassuring to be aware if any exist. That way, you can either nip them in the bud or keep them monitored.

4. Comply with regulations – Regulations like SOX require you to establish adequate internal controls to achieve compliance. Other regulations call for the protection of personally identifiable information. Assessments will help you pinpoint processes that lack controls, identify data that need protection, and areas that don’t meet regulatory requirements. This will enable you to act accordingly and keep your company away from tedious, time-consuming and costly sanctions.

5. Enhance performance – Poor performance is not always caused by an ageing hardware or an overloaded infrastructure. Sometimes, the culprits are: unsuitable configuration settings, inappropriate security policies, or misplaced business logic. A well-executed assessment can provide enough information that would lead to a more cost-effective action plan and help you avoid an expensive but useless purchase.

6. Improve interoperability – Disparate technologies working completely separate from each other may be preventing you from realising the maximum potential of your entire IT ecosystem. If you can examine your IT systems, you may be able to discover ways to make them interoperate and in turn harness untapped capabilities of already existing assets.

7. Ensure alignment of IT with business goals – An important factor in achieving IT governance is the proper alignment of IT with business goals. IT processes need to be assessed regularly to ensure that this alignment continues to exist. If it does not, then necessary adjustments can be made.

8. Provide assurance to customers and investors – Escalating cases of data breaches and identity theft are making customers and investors more conscious with a company?s capability of preserving the confidentiality of sensitive information. By conducting regular assessments, you can show your customers and investors concrete steps for keeping sensitive information confidential.

Benefits Realisation Frameworks – A Useful Handle

One of the greatest challenges of project management is maintaining top-down support in the face of fluctuating priorities. If you elect to take on the role yourself and are peppered by other priorities, it can be a challenge to exactly remember why you are changing things and what your goals are. Sometimes you may not even notice you have reached your goal.

The Benefits Realisation Chart-room

The Benefits Realisation Model is a framework on which to hang key elements of any project. These traditionally include the following, although yours may not necessarily be the same:

  • Definition of the project goal
  • Quantification of intended benefits
  • Project plan versus actual progress
  • How you know you reached your goal
  • Quantification of actual benefits

Another way of describing Benefits Realisation Frameworks is they answer four fundamental questions that every project manager should know by heart:

  • What am I going to do?
  • How am I going to do it?
  • When will I know it’s done?
  • What exactly did I achieve?

The Benefits Realisation Promise

An astounding number of projects fail to reach completion, or miss their targets. It’s not for nothing that the expression ?after the project failed the non-participants were awarded medals? is often used in project rooms. We’re not saying that it is a panacea for success. However it can alert you to warnings that your project is beginning to falter in terms of delivering the over-arching benefits that justify the effort.

When Projects Wander Off-Target

Pinning blame on participants is pointless when project goals are flawed. For example, the goals may be entirely savings-focused and not follow through on what to do with the windfall. At other times realisation targets may be in place, but nobody appointed to recycle the benefits back into the organisation. This is why a Benefits Realisation Framework needs to look beyond the project manager?s role.

Realisation Management in Practice

If the project framework does not look beyond the project manager?s role, then it is over when it reaches its own targets ? and can even run the risk of being an event that feeds entirely off itself. In order to avoid a project being a means to its own end, this first phase must culminate with handover to a benefits realisation custodian.

An example of this might be a project to centralise facilities that is justified in terms of labour savings. The project manager?s job is to build the structure. Someone else needs to rationalise the organisation.

In conclusion, the Benefits Realisation Framework is a useful way of ensuring a project does not only achieve its internal goals, but also remains a focus of management attention because of its extended, tangible benefits.

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