Neela Thangam - Blue Gold

22 January 2021 | Source: 32nd QualTech Prize
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WHAT WAS THE GREEN AREA OF CONCERN? HOW WAS IT IDENTIFIED?
Hosur, where our factory is located, is one of those regions in India facing a severe water crisis where the water table levels have declined and impacted the water quality.

During the last 25 years, our water consumption has increased and water quality has decreased. Our water consumption is quite high at 40-lakh liter per month and reverse osmosis while purifying water results in a high level of waste water.

During water blasting operation, cleaning of investment powder of plain casting requires less water while for diamond gold casting requires more water as the powder is less soluble.

HOW WAS THE GREEN AREA OF CONCERN PRIORITIZED? WAS THERE A ROLE OF UPPER MANAGEMENT?
In this, the Casting department has the highest water consumption of 3 lakh litres per month in production shop floor. Management had given a target to reduce consumption by 10%, but the Project team consisting of members from the Casting department have taken the target to reduce the consumption by 50%.

In the casting process, water-blasting operation consumes 73% and hence became the area of focus. The role of management was only in setting targets for reduction.

HOW WAS THE IMPACT OF THE GREEN AREA OF CONCERN ASSESSED?
In the last 25 years of operation, water quality and consumption quantity has changed tremendously. Water consumption in factory has increased from 7 lakh litres per month in 1994 to 40 lakh litres per month in 2019, an increase of 570%. The location of borewell to draw water has increased from a distance of 1.5 km from factory in 1994 to 7.5 kms from factory in 2019, an increase of 500%. The cost of procuring water increased from Rs 9.50 per KL in 1994 to Rs. 78 per KL in 2019 an increase of 820%. Also TDS in water has increased by 425% in the corresponding period necessitating the use of water treatment plants to provide clean water for drinking and manufacturing operations. In addition, the Factory location falls under a Critical zone for groundwater availability with only 184 Firka of ground water available for domestic and industrial water supply.

HOW WAS THE GREEN AREA OF CONCERN RESOLVED OR REDUCED?
First, we started by giving awareness to the all the team members, Then, monitoring, measurements & Control focus given on high water consumption areas are water blasting (investment powder removal) and investment process by installed the water meters. We set targets for reduction and focused every day. This led to a reduction in water consumption by 15%.

Secondly, We started with training our team members on innovation tools & techniques. Next we engaged with experts within the company and external consultants.

We also visited different factories and industries across India to learn about improvements carried out by them. We also browsed the net to gain information from other countries, but there were no ready solutions available.

Based on the information that we had gathered, we started ideation, using Frame-based thinking. We generated 13 frames and using these frames, we generated 77 ideas. Out of these, we shortlisted 9 ideas for trials on the shop floor.

During the implementation phase, ideas such as flask less casting, Boric-coating trials, split flask casting, Baking soda and vacuum trials did not yield significant improvement.

Converting narrow nozzles to customized broader nozzles led to a 17% reduction of water consumption.

Implementation of a non-sticky rubber base and changing of flask design together enabled 5% water savings.

The next idea was a crazy one which involved using Coke or Pepsi to dissolve investment powder and this to good outcomes in softening of the investment powder. On analyzing contents, we discovered that a common ingredient in both was phosphoric acid. Based on this information, We tried cleaning with different concentrations of phosphoric acid solutions and found that 20% concentration of acid was the most effective. With this input, we have developed an eco-friendly Citrus based solution for the softening process. which has contributed to reduction of water by 23%. .

Up to this implementation, we saved water to the extent of 60%. We then had a discussion on why only 60%, and why not more, this resulted in ourselves asking the powerful question, why we are using raw water and why not RO reject water. Therefore, we did trials with RO reject water in the blasting process and achieved another 26% saving in water consumption.

However, we came across the salt formation in the process, which was resolved by incorporating a salt filter.

This has led us to an overall reduction of freshwater consumption by 86%.

WHAT ARE THE GREEN BENEFITS FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND SOCIETY?
Water-consumption in the department has reduced (from 3 lakh litre/Month to 0.37 lakh litre per month), a reduction of 86%

By measuring water consumption we have reduced it by 15%, by developing the eco-friendly citrus solution we have reduced by 23%, converting nozzle another 5% and implementation of a non-sticky rubber base and changing of flask design we got 17.2% reduction. Thus, we have achieved a reduction of 60% of freshwater usage.

By using RO reject water in investment powder breaking, we have saved another 26%. Our total saving in the last 15 months is 41.7 lakh litre water which is equivalent to 834 truckloads of water.

Extending this to our 5-year plan, we have the potential to save 272 lakh litres of water. Some of these ideas have also been horizontally deployed across the division and has resulted in Division level water consumption reducing from 40 lakh litres to 31 lakh litres.

Freshwater usage in restrooms has gone down by 48%. In showrooms by 46% and canteen area by 38%.

CREDITS: Titan Company Ltd., Jewellery Division
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