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At the Essex Furukawa Metals Processing Center in Columbia City (IN) exists a 15-foot-deep pit. That pit collects excess water that is used in the essential step of cooling cooper as well as storing the acetylene soot that is washed off the material.
It is that pit which offered another opportunity for Essex Furukawa to pursue improved green production as part of its Vision 2030 quest to be the leader in sustainability within the magnet wire manufacturing community.
“We used to have to shut down production for 16 manhours, four times a year, to clear the pit when it became too dirty to allow for proper cooling,” Thomas Jackson, the Plant Manager at the Metals Processing Center (MPC), said. “There are things that simply have to happen within our processes for manufacturing and when the water would become too dirty for proper cooling or the contaminates become too much, we have to stop production and schedule cleaning.
“As we investigated the problem, we saw an opportunity to accomplish a lot of environmental benefits as well as energy efficiencies.”
The MPC added another layer to its filtration system, a sidestream filter that aids in removing impurities, and reduces water waste.
Simply put: the results have been better than expected.
“We are only having to shut down once a year, we are more efficient in ensuring the casting wheel remains clean, and we are decreasing our energy usage,” Chris Hoos, Principal Engineer at the MPC said. “The pit is also just cleaner. That may not sound like a benefit to get too excited about, but when you consider there is a human responsible for cleaning it, and another that has to be part of safety procedures, this really just presented itself as also the right thing to do.”
As a result of the new practice, the MPC is saving almost 30,000 gallons of water annually. A reduction of 75% as it had previously been using 40,000 and it is now down to just 10,000.
It is also saving the 16 manhours during each of the three quarters where the plant does not need to shut down.
It is also able to reduce the energy used inside the plant as the water is cleaner, allowing it to be pumped and sprayed with less effort on the equipment.
“This project is an absolute success,” Austin Robinson, Sustainability Project Manager for Essex Furukawa said. “To be able to reduce your water usage and waste by 30,000 gallons, while also increasing efficiency, and decreasing energy, it is a perfect example for what green production is hoping to accomplish.”
The MPC was also found to have a 90% score on its Waste to Landfill base analysis. Robinson believes that the team has a manageable path to diversion on another 8%, which would confirm the plant as a Zero Waste to Landfill plant – another goal of Vision 2030.
Essex Furukawa is motivated by and dedicated to our Vision of creating a sustainable future. Each decision, partnership, and investment we make as a company will be driven by this common goal. Essex Furukawa is committed to being a part of the solution in improving environmental and social issues facing the world.
About Essex Furukawa
Essex Furukawa Magnet Wire LLC is the leading, global provider of magnet wire that is used by most major OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, and industry leaders in the automotive, energy, industrial, and commercial & residential sectors. The Atlanta-based company is a global joint venture formed in 2020 between Essex Magnet Wire and Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd., both leaders in magnet wire product development, and custom solutions. The combined entity, relying on the strengths of both Essex Magnet Wire and Furukawa Electric, draws on more than two centuries of combined experience and knowledge to push forward innovation while also remaining focused on delivering manufacturing excellence and outstanding customer service. www.essexfurukawa.com