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E3: Economy, Energy and Environment

E3 Success Story - Reducing Wolverine's Cost, Power Demand, and Carbon Footprint: Wolverine Advanced Materials

Company Basics

  • Location: Blacksburg, Virginia

Assessment Details

  •  Team Lead: Manufacturing Technology Center

This case study was written by the Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC)Exit

For more than 75 years, Wolverine has been a leading developer of high-performance, custom-engineered sealing solutions and a trusted supplier of polymer-coated materials to gasket manufacturers around the globe. Their extensive experience with sealing materials and applications allows them to not only identify the problem faster, but also to help you choose the right material for the job. Wolverine, Blacksburg wanted to improve their energy and production efficiency, and reduce the carbon footprint of their production operations.

The Situation

The Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC) received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the delivery of an Economy, Energy and Environment (E3) pilot project in Southwest Virginia. The MTC partnered with American Electric Power, a service provider of electric energy, to improve Wolverine's energy demand requirements in order to reduce cost, power demand, and carbon footprint. The MTC experts in lean, environmental, and energy practices performed an E3 technical assessment and Lean and Green Value Steam Mapping (VSM). The experts identified strategies for better efficiencies in energy usage, process flow, and pollution prevention within the selected organization. 

The Solution

The MTC-Wolverine Management team decided that the E3 project would proceed according to the following three distinct sub-projects:

A cross-functional assessment team conducted a two-day event to identify and assess opportunities to reduce the energy power demand of the facility-wide power consumers.
The two-day event was conducted by the team to further enhance the facility's existing procedures and systems to reduce, recover, and reclaim solvent.
A thorough review of plant processes was reviewed to identify wastes (non-value added process steps) in order to minimize wasted motion and improve process flow.

The VSM process was conducted during a separate two-day event. A typical first step of the process is to define the "current state" of the system. For the coating area key elements of the current state were documented on a current state map.

Current State

  1. Power demand spiked above 900 kW at the Cedar Run facility. Something significant occurs usually for a relatively short period of time. The spikes result in a 300 kW charge at $21.21/ kW.
  2. Currently solvent is used to flush coating material from the processes during change over and becomes hazardous waste with minimal reuse.
  3. Minimal TPM systems of keeping all equipment in top working order at all times throughout the facility but especially at the coating lines is occurring.

Future State

  1. Reduce power demand through scheduling of equipment during off-peak hours.
  2. Reuse solvent that is reclaimed, reducing solvent cost and disposal cost.
  3. All equipment operators are responsible for the routine cleaning and performance of P.M.'s on the equipment they run. The employees, with the help of the maintenance staff, create simple, visual procedures for how to properly maintain equipment. Equipment is marked and/or modified as needed to make maintenance simple, easy, and safe.

MTC interviewed Wolverine staff to determine implementation status and success. A percentage of the recommendation has occurred with plans for additional implementation to occur within one year. The reported numbers are actual implementation savings. Payback for each improvement is less than one year.

Results

  • Reduced Power Demand: An immediate savings of $26,725 and an additional savings of $11,453 within one year.
  • Solvent Reuse: An immediate savings of $43,622 and an additional savings of $43,622 within one year.
  • Improved Maintenance: An immediate savings of $26,100 and additional savings of $60,900 within one year.

"The E3 project provided a good opportunity to take a fresh look at energy utilization and resource conservation."

— Sheila McCartan, Vice President Corporate Quality & General Manager N.A. Operations