Tyre factory creates energy savings of 50% and gives a hearty boost to its green profile

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Tyre manufacturer Yokohama Rubber found an unlikely source could enable the company to drastically reduce energy savings and, at the same time, contribute to its commitment to reducing CO2 emissions.

An outstanding opportunity

Together with Grundfos, Yokohama Rubber investigated areas in the factory that might provide the company with an opportunity to reduce its energy consumption and lower its carbon footprint. The first area they investigated was the factory's production line cooling system. But would it offer anything significant in the way of saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions? To find out, they decided to run an analysis on the system.

In fact, the investigation indicated that by replacing the ageing existing pumps that ran the cooling system with high efficiency pumps, Yokohama Rubber could make energy savings of an astonishing 50 per cent. The company's representative, Kenichi Hattori, was not entirely convinced the savings would be so significant, but gave the go ahead for the replacement.  

The proof was in the savings

Once the installation was complete, Yokohama Rubber undertook another audit to ascertain the exact effect of the changeover. The results clearly indicated the predicted result - with energy consumption reduced by 51 per cent. In fact, in the first year, the pump replacements saved Yokohama Rubber more than JPY 4 million (around €40,000), not to mention a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions.

Expanding the benefits

With the new pumps delivering significant savings, Kenichi Hattori searched for more opportunities to upgrade and increase efficiency. In August 2011, they chose to install five more pumps at the company's Shinshiro plant. These delivered savings of 52 per cent at one installation and 39 per cent in another.

Good for the bottom line

The Shinshiro plant aims to reduce energy consumption roughly three per cent per year. 

"I'm responsible for ensuring that we continually improve our environmental management policies and results," says Masaki Noro. "We have targets for reducing our CO2 emissions, and energy consumption has a direct impact on that. We have a basic plan for replacement and renewal of our equipment, but the potential savings shown by the pump audit moved these systems to the head of the queue."

Noro notes his responsibility to meet the company's waste-emission and energy-conservation targets: "We reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 13 per cent in less than 20 years, and we need to continue to find ways to improve. The pump audit opened our eyes to significant energy savings that could be realised in an important area of our operations, and I'm sure we can continue to make gains in this area.

The first pumps delivered 51 per cent energy savings, but that was the lowest improvement we recorded in all our installations

Kenichi Hattori

Yokohama Rubber

High efficiency technology pays rewards

The initial installation of Grundfos pumps and their control systems paid for itself within 18 months through reduced energy costs. Payback time at the Hiratsuka plant was one year, and the second Shinshiro installation, 15 months. They have also in no small way, helped the company contribute to Japan's nationalsetsuden(electricity-saving) movement.