As the extraordinary circumstances affecting the global economy finally appear to be abating, it has only strengthened the case for sustainable business practices—to better manage resources, reduce waste, control costs, and minimize corporate carbon footprints. Stakeholders and shareholders are increasingly vocal and voicing demands for transparency and corporate social responsibility—only amplified by daily headline issues like bailouts, climate change, workplace conditions, product recalls, environmental disasters—even executive compensation seems to have become fair game for public scrutiny. By all indications, it’s not simply the next “marketing fad, public relations ploy or business buzz.” More than a trend, it’s a fundamental shift, driven in part by global public and social policies that are bringing significant change in the way companies do business—and how they will retain customers and grow their business. Leading-edge companies are recognizing dynamic changes taking shape and are making “triple bottom line” environmental, social, and economic sustainability a core business strategy. It’s impacting the entire business ecosystem at every level throughout the supply chain.
In many respects, the aluminum extrusion industry is already light years ahead of the curve on sustainability. Just by the very nature of aluminum—its lightweight, durable, formable, cost-efficient, low environmental impact and highly recyclable qualities makes it an ideal material for manufacturing eco-friendly products. Many of those qualities in fact not only contribute environmentally and economically, but have positive social implications as well. That’s good news. But that won’t be enough in this new business climate. To be truly sustainable, business including the aluminum extrusion industry must take a holistic and continuous improvement approach, taking into consideration the broader people, planet, and profit issues. Among them are responsible management of natural resources, energy consumption, carbon emissions, scrap and waste reduction, safe working conditions, and other concerns. It is here where Granco Clark’s technologies can and are contributing in a significant way to clients’ sustainability agendas.
The reality is Granco Clark technologies were already addressing sustainability concerns long before the triple bottom line sustainability concept gained acceptance and more recently, traction. The early drivers of course, were economic. Design and engineering innovations that reduce scrap, reduce energy consumption, improve productivity, enhance safety, and so forth ultimately save money and impact the economic bottom line. But they also impact environmental sustainability, i.e., reduced scrap translates into better management of natural resources and reduced energy consumption equates into lower emissions. Social sustainability is also enhanced, i.e. through safer work environments for employees, recyclable materials, less waste going to landfills, cleaner air, etc.
For example, the Granco Clark Hot-Jet Furnace delivers an average thermal efficiency of 55%—a number that other furnaces hit only at their peak. Fast controlled heating of die ovens and age ovens save energy. Billet taper quenchers improve productivity increasing press speed by an average of 51%. Puller systems reduce scrap. Profile and billet handling and stacking systems automation help maximize throughput and minimize manual handling and reduce labor. Equipment safety features enhance operator and handler safety. Preventive maintenance programs and energy audits ensure efficient, optimal performance of existing equipment.
Granco Clark’s most recent innovation, the FusionBond®, is a newly patented technology that integrates with the Granco Clark Hot Saw, eliminating two-piece billets. The process produces a completely bonded single, uniform billet with near perfect alignment, oxidation elimination, and unquestionable weld strength without micro grain structure change. The result is a significant reduction in aluminum scrap, increasing yield 2% - 3%.
The triple bottom line sustainability movement, once largely driven by voluntary compliance is becoming a mandatory with business customers requiring supply chain partners to measure, validate, and report their efforts as a prerequisite for doing business. With validation the final piece of the equation, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has developed what is becoming the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, developing a standardized approach to measuring and reporting economic, environmental, and social sustainability performance information. It’s look as though concept of triple bottom line sustainability is in fact itself—a sustainable one industry is going to have to live by and work by.
Profiles: Serving the information needs of the international aluminum extrusion community