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BTR Automotive Sealing and Antivibration Systems
Cleaner Production - Raw Material Utilisation

BTR Automotive Sealing & Antivibration Systems at Bendigo identified the poor utilisation of raw material as a key cost item. Through an internal monitoring and problem identification program the company systematically identified and corrected causes of poor raw material utilisation. Annual savings are estimated at $640,000.

Background

BTR Automotive Sealing & Antivibration Systems (BTR) is a major manufacturer of extruded and moulded rubber products for the Australian automotive industry. The production facility is located at Bendigo in regional Victoria and is one of the larger employers in the city.

The Process

The process of manufacturing rubber components involves both extrusion and moulding. Some of the extrusion processes are complex and the finished component (e.g.. a door seal) may incorporate a number of extruded and moulded components.

Waste rubber is generated from:

This rubber waste has been fully cured and cannot be re-used. All of this waste ends up being disposed to landfill.

In 1995 the dollar value of the rubber waste, in terms of raw material cost, was estimated to be $1.5 million.

Cleaner Production Initiative

BTR's main objectives through the Cleaner Production Partnerships Program were to:

As a first step an initial waste assessment was undertaken. This assessment indicated that the following wastes were generated.
 

WASTE QUANTITY, p.a. DISPOSAL COST, p.a.
Rubber 550 tonnes $65,000
Interceptor 36,000 litres $5,300
Hydraulic oil 9,000 litres Recycled on site
Waste oil 3,000 litres $120
Trichloroethylene from solvent degreaser   Collected free of charge by supplier for recovery
Phosphoric acid 2,000 litres $3,700
Paint & solvents 5,000 litres $4,250
Spray booth wash water   $3,000
Cardboard & paper   $370
General rubbish   $6,600
TOTAL   $89,920

The contribution to total rubber waste from various sources was also identified: 

SOURCE PERCENTAGE
Extrusion 31.3%
Moulding Cells 22.1%
Moulding Section 32.5%
Other 14%

The major causes of rejects during extrusion and moulding were:

Following from the initial waste assessment BTR decided to measure its rubber waste more precisely. This was done by isolating all rubber waste from all areas and weighing it over a four week period. This assessment indicated that the actual waste rubber generation was 662 tonnes per annum. The total raw material cost associated with this waste was calculated at $2.2 million.

Following this detailed assessment, as part of BTR's profit plan performance targets were set for each production area. The overall objectives were to:

The strategy developed to achieve the performance targets included:

This system was successfully implemented and monthly performance reporting included the top causes of rejects and the proposed action plans for addressing them.

The waste rubber generation was re-audited in mid 1997. The results of this audit indicated that the generation of waste rubber had been reduced from 662 tonnes per annum to 532 tonnes per annum.

A number of initiatives for non-rubber waste were also implemented:

WASTE SOURCE ACTION
Triple interceptor Clean out frequency optimised from fortnightly to monthly
Trichloroethylene Reduce vapour loss through installing a lid on the vapour degreasing unit.
Chemical drums Drum with residual material returned to supplier. (This was done for the very high viscosity materials.)
Phosphoric acid Change to 1,000 litre containers instead of 205 litre drums.

Advantages Of The Process

In the first nine months of 1997 the project achieved savings of approximately $480,000 in improved productivity and raw material utilisation. This was achieved at a cost of approximately $50,000 in internal resources.

Cleaner Production Initiative

The main incentive for pursuing improvements in rubber utilisation was the pressure to meet corporate profit targets. In previous years profit targets had been achieved by increasing sales. However as the market matured and the growth in market volume decreased, the site management began to focus on other options to increase profit. The high rate of rubber wastage was identified as a key opportunity.

BTR Automotive Sealing & Antivibration Systems received a grant under the Victorian EPA's Cleaner Production Partnerships Program for the initiatives described in this case study.

Barriers

The main barrier to reducing rubber waste is the ongoing diligence required. The ongoing monthly reporting indicates that production teams or cells need constant reinforcement of the message, as performance has tended to drift if this is not provided.

To maintain the improvements the following elements have been important:

Further Developments

BTR have implemented a variety of cleaner production initiatives since 1997.

Energy

Power savings have been achieved by a rationalisation of energy use, including the following:

For the year 2000, the annual natural gas consumption for the site was of the order of 20,000 GJ, at a cost of around $88,000. Natural gas is used in the boiler, cure ovens, space heating in the factory areas, an afterburner on curing ovens and a gas ring on one of the extruders. 

Chemical use

Some paint booths have been converted from solvent based to water based products. The initiative has also minimized the use of solvent based cleaners.

Packaging

Improvements in packaging have been under continual development since 1997.

Parts of the industry no longer accept products packaged in cardboard. Plastic bins of 25L and 50L capacity are recycled. The use of corflute reusable boxes and returnable containers reduces the amount of cardboard used on the site for packaging. Cardboard packaging is disposed of to a recycling centre.

Contact

Mr Tom Dobelli
BTR Automotive
Sealing & Antivibration Systems
PO Box 515
Bendigo VIC 3552
Ph: (03) 5442 1066
Fax: (03) 5443 1661

Casestudy implementation: 1997

Further initiatives: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
Case study initially prepared: June 1998 by the Australian Centre for Cleaner Production

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Last modified: June 2001