Cape Breton Hi-Tech Company Uses Low-Tech Solution to Help Save Environment and Money
It’s not exactly a rags-to-riches story, but a high-tech Sydney company has found a low-tech solution to a simple problem.
The staff at Protocase, which makes custom sheet metal enclosures for clients like NASA, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, recently realized they could not only save the growing company money, but also help the environment by washing the rags used to clean parts and tools.
Liam Morley, the inventory manager at Protocase in Sydney, said he and his team noticed that many of the rags used by the sheet metal company to wipe down components and tools were only used only once, then thrown in the trash.
“The business is always looking for ways to help the environment – the last thing you want to do as a business is damage the area you work in,” Morley said.
Morley said rags are essential every step of the way and for nearly every part that goes through the production line – all at a cost of around $ 25,000 per year.
“Rags are used throughout the building,” he said. “Every station uses them – whether it’s just to clean the sides after a piece of metal has been on it, or whether it’s cleaning tools.
“I would say, best customer estimate, maybe 20-50 for each item that passes. As you can imagine, that’s why the cost was so high because they just went in the trash and got thrown away and we bought more. It didn’t please me and the team.
After considering installing industrial washers and dryers in-house, the team decided to contact a nearby laundromat to help resolve the issue.
While not all rags can be reused, mainly due to the various chemicals used during the manufacturing process, costs and waste were drastically reduced in just a few weeks. And Morley thinks Protocase is probably going to spend around $ 4,000 a year on rags.
“We’ve been broadcasting this live for about three weeks now and we haven’t ordered any orders in those three weeks,” he said.
“It’s great that we have achieved this common goal as a team.”
Morley said Protocase is always looking for other ways to be more environmentally friendly. While the priority is to deliver products in pristine condition, he said staff are now exploring alternative packaging methods that may be better for the planet. The Nottingham, England native (and brother of Cape Breton University men’s football coach Deano Morley) said that while he was new to the area it seems especially important given that their activities are based on and around the site of the former Sydney steelworks and the tar ponds. – a place once considered one of the most toxic waste sites in North America.
“So we’re looking at the inner packaging and trying to find biodegradable options,” he said.
“The fact that we can sit on ground that was once considered one of the worst in the world and bring a business in and make it environmentally efficient, I think that’s a fantastic thing.
Chris Connors is a corporate reporter for the Cape Breton Post.