A Chinese lesson in energy efficiency

In today’s corporate world, there are some challenges that each and every company shares, regardless of industry, size or geographical region. With the threats posed by climate change looming over the world, businesses have to take a good, hard look at their energy use and figure out ways to cut it down. But energy efficiency is not only a responsibility, it is also an opportunity. Huhtamaki found several ways to seize it.

Huhtamaki continuously looks for ways to reduce energy usage through a Lean Six Sigma toolset, which has proven to be useful in identifying opportunities for improvements. It also helps in increasing awareness of the importance of saving energy at manufacturing units.

Besides reducing CO2 emissions and related environmental impact, efficient use of energy has another benefit: it brings down costs. Three of Huhtamaki's foodservice packaging manufacturing units in China were the target of the most recent improvement project. Sergio Martinez, Business Excellence Team Leader, explains how energy and money were saved with simple actions at the Guangzhou plant. “We focused on finding savings during production shut down and start up, as well as manufacturing. We succeeded in reducing the power consumption in ventilation fans, as well as introducing a new, more energy efficient way to remove the waste paper scrap with conveyor belts. Also, we optimized the overall use of conveyor belts and will continue to develop the process."

Learning from experience

Lessons learned from one plant were applied in the next, and the improvement projects were carried out in cooperation with the local teams. Huhtamaki succeeded in reducing CO2 emission in China by more than 10% in 2016.

“We set a target to lower the energy cost caused by compressed air, too, by 5% annually. Three compressor machines were using on average 16,400 kWh a day. We focused on monitoring possible air leakages, and by cooperating closely with site technicians and operators, we came up with solutions to repair the leakages immediately,” Mable Zhu, Business Excellence Team Leader, who works with Sergio, said.

Lights, air – energy is everywhere

In Guangzhou, Huhtamaki reduced energy consumption by installing a lighting system equipped with motion control. In 2017, halogen lighting will be replaced with LEDs in the entire factory. The new lighting system uses significantly less energy than the earlier halogen light fittings. The actions taken in Guangzhou serve as a good example of best practices whose outcomes have now been shared across the business segments.