How Volvo Dublin achieved Zero Landfill Status

The sprawling New River Valley Volvo plant in Dublin, Virginia slashed its electricity bill by 25% in a single year when it set its mind to this in 2009. It went on to become the first carbon-neutral factory in 2012 after replacing fossil energy with renewable power. Further efforts rewarded it with zero-landfill status in 2013. ecoVaro decided to investigate how it achieved this latest success.

Volvo Dublin?s anti-landfill project began when it identified, measured and evaluated all liquid and solid waste sources within the plant (i.e. before these left the works). This quantified data provided its environmental project team with a base from which to explore options for reusing, recycling and composting the discards.

Several decisions followed immediately. Volvo instructed its component suppliers to stop using cardboard boxes and foam rubber / Styrofoam as packaging, in favour of reusable shipping containers. This represented a collaborative saving that benefited both parties although this was just a forerunner of what followed.

Next, Volvo?s New River Valley truck assembly plant turned its attention to the paint shop. It developed methods to trap, reconstitute and reuse solvents that flushed paint lines, and recycle paint sludge to fire a cement kiln. The plant cafeteria did not escape attention either. The environment team made sure that all utensils, cups, containers and food waste generated were compostable at a facility on site.

The results of these simple, and in hindsight obvious decisions were remarkable. Every year since then Volvo has generated energy savings equivalent to 9,348 oil barrels or if you prefer 14,509 megawatts of electricity. Just imagine the benefits if every manufacturing facility did something similar everywhere around the world.

By 2012, the New River Valley Volvo Plant became the first U.S. facility to receive ISO 50001 energy-management status under a government-administered process. Further technology enhancements followed. These included solar hot water boilers and infrared heating throughout the 1.6 million square foot (148,644 square meter) plant, building automation systems that kept energy costs down, and listening to employees who were brim-full with good ideas.

The Volvo experience is by no means unique although it may have been ahead of the curve. General Motors has more than 106 landfill-free installations and Ford plans to reduce waste per vehicle by 40% between 2010 and 2016. These projects all began by measuring energy footprints throughout the process. ecoVaro provides a facility for you to do this too.

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Fine-tuning your Operations and keeping our staff Happy with FieldElite

They are the engine that drives your operations, but are you really giving you value for your money? How much time is spent by your personnel on lengthy paperwork and record-keeping, as opposed to actually providing the service to your customers? Manual tasks create bottlenecks and slow your operations, which in turn affects service delivery and customer satisfaction. You want to reach more clients and boost your brand image, growing your market share and generating more revenue. Field Service Management (FSM) software comes in optimise the operations of your mobile workforce, cut down resource wastage, and enhance your productivity as a firm, by actually enabling your field staff to get more done, thus achieving their individual goals. In fact, according to a report published by Fortune Business Insights?, the global FSM market- which stood at $2.29 billion as recently as 2018, will have expanded to $7.27 billion by 2026. What does this mean for your employees, and how do they benefit from FieldElite?

  • Skipping the paperwork with end-to-end automation

Filing reports, keeping track of equipment used, working on the Excel sheets for multiple jobs on a daily basis, all through to the routing and billing- it can be a logistical nightmare. It’s not just about the hours spent poring through documents and typing away at calculators. Manual work exposes you to the risks of human error. Missing records, inaccurate assessments of the situation on the ground due to the overwhelming data streaming in, putting the head office staff under strain- it all hampers the productivity of the company. 

Take scheduling for instance. You have different employees, and various jobs that need their attention, at different locations. It can be a plumbing company whose clients have water filters that need to be repaired, gas boilers inspected, leaking pipes fixed, and others who need new installations to be set up. Assigning your personnel to the different situations will need to take into account the type of job, and the amount of time that it will require, aspects such as the location and the crew that is closest to it. At the head office you will want to keep tabs on the jobs that are in progress, pending, complete, those on hold, and even those that have been cancelled. Running all these through traditional manual processes is enough to drive you to the edge. What’s more, tasks that slip through your fingers amidst the confusion will result in negative feedback from your customers- which you don’t want hitting your brand.

With a field service job management software like FieldELite, you get to handle it all from one dashboard. Optimise your service delivery using the accurate scheduler, that allows you to account for the location of your employees, the status of the job- from the urgent ones like emergency tasks, to the normal duties such as routine maintenance, and low-priority tasks. The field service scheduling software comes with a real-time location feature that allows you to determine the employees closest to the client’s premises who will be appropriate for the job, map out the service areas and give you a birds-eye view of all the operations on the ground, while being updated with the progress of each specific task. Less time is spent travelling to- and from the central office, and more on actually tending to your client’s needs. You can even have situations where you can assign end-of-day tasks to employees who will be passing on that route on their way home.

  • Enhanced resource utilisation that promotes personal and professional development

Skill is key across the industries- from electrical services, solar panel installation, landscaping, home remodelling, pest control, plumbing, HVAC system maintenance, to construction and property management. For the job to be done appropriately and make your clients happy, you want to assign the task to an employee who is particularly proficient at it. This tends to be glimpsed over during manual scheduling since the personnel at the head office will be swamped with so many files, and will pick the first one that comes close to fitting the job description, leading to overlapping of roles. Sure, they may get it done, having seen their colleagues do it and even helping them out when they worked together before on similar projects- but will it be up to the required standard? On the other hand, the FSM allows you to ensure that you get the right technician for the task- who will be more motivated, boosting their performance.

What about accidents? Your employees want to feel safe as they go about their mandate. Many of the field service jobs are hazardous- such as electrical repair jobs, window cleaning tasks at high rise buildings, to elevator repair jobs where a slight glitch can lead to severe ramifications. Field service management software also comes in handy here, where the head office can be notified of any emergency the moment it occurs, and arrange for the necessary action to be taken immediately. That way, your employees will not feel neglected while they are out in the field, showing them that their safety is a priority to your business- which in turn increases their morale. 

  • Readily available knowledgebase and feedback system

When the employees have been assigned a specific job, they will require certain information about it. This includes the scope of the task, history of previous repairs or maintenance that was carried out, accompanying images if needed, risk assessment, any hazards or contaminants that they will need to prepare for, to notes left by technicians who had handled it. Having to keep checking their email, or picking up documents at the office for the day’s job and walking around with them all day as they tend to one customer after another, will slow things down, and not to mention frustrate them. However, the FSM system is directly accessible by the employees via app on their phones. The information needed for each specific task will thus be at their fingertips, speeding up the process and ensuring that they will be ready for each project being handled. 

While carrying out the job itself, the employees will use the very same app to update the system on how it is progressing, chat with the staff at the head office, update the inventory and even place orders for extra parts if necessary. Since mobile service management software apps like FieldElite also work in offline mode, the photos, reports and other entries that are made are collected by the app and saved on the device. Once a network connection is established, they are then updated to the central database- thus ensuring that the job can proceed regardless of the location. 

Once the job is completed, the customer input is also taken, registered in the system through their e-signature. A signoff comment included gives the customer the opportunity to indicate their experience with the job, and the feedback that they would like to provide. In case the job has not been completed, then the scheduling software kicks in, putting it in queue for another appointment to take care of the task, or resolve the issue that had caused it not to be completed the first time. The completed tasks head right to invoicing, which is also handled within the field service management platform, making it a seamless task for the head office staff.

What Sub-Metering did for Nissan in Tennessee

When Nissan built its motor manufacturing plant in Smyrna 30 years ago, the 5.9 million square-foot factory employing over 8,000 people was state of art. After the 2005 hurricane season sky-rocketed energy prices, the energy team looked beyond efficient lighting at the more important aspect of utility usage in the plant itself. Let’s examine how they went about sub-metering and what it gained for them.

The Nissan energy team faced three challenges as they began their study. They had a rudimentary high-level data collection system (NEMAC) that was so primitive they had to transfer the data to spread-sheets to analyse it. To compound this, the engineering staff were focused on the priority of getting cars faster through the line. Finally, they faced the daunting task of making modifications to reticulation systems without affecting manufacturing throughput. But where to start?

The energy team chose the route of collaboration with assembly and maintenance people as they began the initial phase of tracking down existing meters and detecting gaps. They installed most additional equipment during normal service outages. Exceptions were treated as minor jobs to be done when convenient. Their next step was to connect the additional meters to their ageing NEMAC, and learn how to use it properly for the first time.

Although this was a cranky solution, it had the advantage of not calling for additional funding which would have caused delays. However operations personnel were concerned that energy-saving shutdowns between shifts and over weekends could cause false starts. ?We’ve already squeezed the lemon dry,? they seemed to say. ?What makes you think there?s more to come??

The energy team had a lucky break when they stumbled into an opportunity to prove their point early into implementation. They spotted a four-hourly power consumption spike they knew was worth examining. They traced this to an air dryer that was set to cyclical operation because it lacked a dew-point sensor. The company recovered the $1,500 this cost to fix, in an amazing 6 weeks.

Suitably encouraged and now supported by the operating and maintenance departments, the Smyrna energy team expanded their project to empower operating staff to adjust production schedules to optimise energy use, and maintenance staff to detect machines that were running without output value. The ongoing savings are significant and levels of shop floor staff motivation are higher.

Let’s leave the final word to the energy team facilitator who says, ?The only disadvantage of sub-metering is that now we can’t imagine doing without it.?

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Data Leakage Prevention – Protecting Sensitive Information

When DuPont lost $400 million in intellectual property, it wasn’t because a hacker from the other side of the world infiltrated their system. The information was simply stolen by a former employee. Alarmingly, data loss incidents are not always caused by deliberate actions.

A file containing personal information accidentally attached to an email and sent to multiple recipients; financial data stored in a USB pen drive, accidentally left in a restaurant; or bank account data of colleagues, inadvertently posted on a company website – these are also some of the everyday causes of data loss.

A report done by research company Infowatch regarding global data leaks in 2010 showed that there were actually more accidental data leaks in that year compared to intentional ones. Accidental leaks comprised 53%, while intentional leaks comprised 42% (the rest were unidentified).

But even if they ?only? happened accidentally, breach incidents like these can still be very costly. The tens of thousands of dollars that you could sometimes end up paying in civil penalties (as in the case when you lose other people?s personal information) can just be the beginning. More costly than this is the loss of customer and investor confidence. Once you lose those, you could consequently lose a considerable portion of your business.

Confidential information that may already be leaking out right under your nose

With all the data you collect, process, exchange, and store electronically every day, your IT system has surely now become a storehouse of sensitive information. Some of them, you may be even taking for granted.

But imagine what would happen if any of the following trade secrets fell into the wrong hands: marketing plans, confidential customer information, pricing data, product development strategies, business plans, supplier information, source codes, and employee salaries.

These are not the only kind of data that you should be worried about. You could also get into trouble if your sloppy IT security fails to protect employee or client personal information such as their names; social security numbers; drivers license numbers; or bank account numbers and credit/debit card numbers along with their corresponding PINs.

In some countries, you could face onerous data breach notification requirements and heavy fines when these kind of data are involved.

There are now more holes to plug

It’s not just the different varieties of sensitive electronic information that you have to worry about. Because these data can take on different forms, i.e. data-at-rest, data-in-motion, and data-at-the-endpoints, you also need to take aim at different areas in your IT system.

Sensitive information can be found ?at rest? in each of your employees? hard disks, in your servers, storage disks, and in off-site backup disks. They can also be found ?in motion? in email, instant messaging, social networking messaging, P2P file sharing, ftp, http, and so on.

That’s not all. Your highly mobile workforce may have already introduced yet another high-risk area into your system: data-at-the-endpoints. This includes USB flash-disks, laptops, portable hard disks, CDs, and even smartphones.

The main challenge of data leak prevention

Having been made aware of the various aspects of data leakage, have you already come to grips with the extent of the task at hand?

There are two major things you need to do here to prevent data leakage.

One, you need to identify what data you have that can be considered as sensitive/confidential information. Of course you have financial information and employee salaries in your files. But do you also store personally identifiable information? Do you have trade secrets that are stored in electronic form?

Two, you need to pinpoint their locations. Are they only on your hard disks and laptops? Or have they made their way to flash drives, CDs/DVDs, or portable HDDs? Are they being transmitted through email or any other file transfer media?

The reason why you need to know what your sensitive data are as well as where they are is because you would like all efforts of securing them to be as efficient and unobtrusive as possible.

Let’s say, as a way of protecting your data, you decide to implement encryption. Since encryption can consume a lot of storage space and significantly reduce performance, it may be impractical to encrypt your entire database or all your files. For the same reason, you wouldn’t want to encrypt every single email that you send.

Thus, the best way would be to encrypt only the data that really need encryption. But again, you need to know what data needs to be encrypted and where those data can be found. That alone is no simple task.

Not only will you need to deal with the data you already have, you will also have to worry about the data that will go through your systems during the course of your day-to-day transactions.

Identifying sensitive data as it enters or leaves your system, goes through your network, or gets stored in your file system or database, and then applying the necessary security actions should be done automatically and intelligently. Otherwise, you could end up spending on a lot of man-hours or, worse, wasting them on a lot of false positives and negatives.

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