"Recovery - Recycle - Reuse" - Modern manufacturing Mantra

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 1765 , Published on 20 November 2013

Gone are the Good old days wherein whatever you could produce was readily accepted by the market with open arms, where the organization who could manufacture higher volumes in a short span of time became no 1 Player in few years. The times have changed with the change in the economic tide. The economic slowdown in the last few years, rising customer expectations, reducing profit margins, increasing raw material costs have all lead to a pressure on the manufacturing firms to roll out better quality products at a minimum price.

Also we must understand the fact that the manufacturing firms operate in a highly competitive environment, they have to take care of the legal formalities through which they are registered and guided. In addition to this the pressure from suppliers and the cartel formed by them goes on to increase their problem manifolds. Further the ever changing government policies and political scenarios force them to restrict themselves at various avenues. The competition within the existing firms not only poses a serious threat but the companies are continuously fighting with each other for a greater market share. And to add on to this worsening situation comes the customer expectation into play which has no boundaries.

Image Courtesy: Keerati, freedigitalphotos.net

Taking all these into consideration, the manufacturing firms follow –“Recovery-Recycle-Reuse” mantra keeping in mind the aim to reduce the overall wastes. The aim of the manufacturing firm should be reduction of wastes at each and every phase of manufacturing. Waste reduction is an ongoing process that involves a lot sub processes for achieving the target and hence the new system implementation takes fair amount of time

Looking at the existing system of manufacturing in place, the first step is to analyze the process of manufacturing and finding the key areas where the recovery efforts will be cost effective.  The main areas will be related to some specific processes involved in the production, finding these areas involves study of the past results and analysis of the present scenario. The study of the previous results allows the team to pin point where exactly waste associated is high, the aim of this exercise is to find out what exactly have to be recovered .This recovery phase not only involves the study and analysis to find out the process where recovery is essential, but also this decision of recovering any resource is dependent on a lot of other factors. The decision requires cost benefit analysis and process study for conducting the recovery and other subsequent steps.

After this step comes the need to recycle whatever is recovered, the process of recovery should be designed keeping in mind the recovered material’s condition. There may be a case where the recovered material is different from the usual times, and then the process of recycling should be flexible enough to counter the change. The recycling process can be divided into 2 major types depending on the value of the output of the process-

  • Upcycle-  the process in which the low value materials into comparatively high value products / material
  • Downcycle – the process in which valuable products are converted to low-value raw materials

The type of recycling process followed by the organization is dependent on multiple factors such as capability, benefit and stage of the production process from which the material/product was recovered.

The next and final step is to reuse the material / product recycled. The quality level associated with the recycled material is a critical factor to evaluate before its input to the process. After assuring the quality level desired is achieved, the material can be used in the manufacturing process.

Pictorial representation of waste generated at NIKON Corporation and Group.

When we analyze the kinds of waste we find that majority share of the total waste can be recycled by the organization. The efforts of Nikon Corporation in this field of recycling are commendable.

The efforts were targeted  to recycle -glass(7.4%),metals(19.4%),plastics(12.1%),paper(11.8%) and sludge(23.7%).The significance of the "Recovery - Recycle – Reuse” mantra can be  seen from the fact that  the plant now sells stainless steel, brass, and aluminum residues from its manufacturing process as well as used wires, printed boards, and compounds—the amount of which have increased in line with an increase in production volumes. The recycling rate achieved at these companies rose to 97.8%, with the landfill disposal rate of 0.3% although the disposal of waste (including the amounts treated as valuable resources) increased by 2.4% year on year. This is the kind of impact the successful implementation of the recycling process can have will have on the organization.

This overall process not only gives the organization a cost advantage but also is critical to the performance of the environment protection programs. The benefit of recycling and re using can be analyzed considering the costs associated with the new raw material which has to be procured, transported, inspected, stored and used. Indirectly, this is more like developing a small in-house supplier of material for our production process .Some of the material required for our process would be available in manufacturing facility from the ongoing operations. Organizations can use this overall process of recycling and re-using as their strategic advantage .The role of recycling process becomes important when the cost of the raw material is pretty high, if the organization utilizes the system in a well managed way then cost reduction would also be high which would be good for the bottom line of the organization. The recycling process becomes important for those manufacturing processes which have typically more wastages associated. Whether these wastages are in the initial phase of manufacturing process or close to the end, depending on the type of material, appropriate strategy is to be followed by the organization.

Also while carrying out the activities the manufacturing companies are also expected to take care of the environment and be socially responsible in every sense. This further adds on to the burden on the organization. This is where the overall process of recycling becomes really important because it serves a lot of purposes for the organization. The benefits of the recycling process implementation are cost reduction, reusability of material and it helps in following the government guidelines to curb the wastage to a certain level as per the laws.

In the highly competitive global environment wherein the margins are reducing daily, the traditional methods of reducing wastes will no longer cater to the problems faced. The organizations require perfect implementation of recovery – recycle – reuse strategy along with the day-to-day operational strategy for better waste management and cost-competitiveness.

This article has been authored by Tarun Shukla And Anand Singh from SIMS, Pune



GoCleanGetGreen,(2008).Retrieved from http://www.gocleangetgreen.ca


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