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Tools for Integrating Energy, Materials Productivity, and Quality Efforts
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Industrial facilities are continuously looking for opportunities to increase quality and productivity, reduce costs, and improve environmental performance. All to often these efforts are tackled separately. Bringing together resources and tools to address all of these improvement efforts can reap significant benefits. In fact, a number of tools and strategies are common to each of these program areas. Many facilities have begun to integrate these efforts using a cross-functional team approach using tools such as process mapping, pinch analysis, and full-cost accounting. In addition, various service providers are working to integrate their programs so that companies can access integrated assistance. For example, in Texas, an assistance network is being formed that includes the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (environment), the Industrial Assessment Center (energy), and the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Centers (productivity and quality). This assistance network is helping companies work more holistically towards improving their business operations. For example, Carrier Corporation in Tyler, Texas saved $1.3 million annually by implementing projects that integrated productivity, quality, and environmental efforts. One of their projects involved changing how they produced "U" shaped heat exchanger tubes. The original tube bending procedure required lubricating oil and involved inserting a "ball mandrel" part way into the tube to keep the walls of the tube from collapsing during the bending operation. Carrier designed a new bending procedure, which involved adding wrinkles to the tubes, much like hospital soda straws with a wrinkled section. This new process allowed the facility to use a much less expensive mandrel and eliminated the need for lubrication, saving Carrier Corp. $100,000 annually.
Roothaan, E. S. (1999). Tools for Integrating Energy, Materials Productivity, and Quality Efforts. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu). Available electronically from