Green Manufacturing: Signing off on Paperless

Human hand winner sticks of pile of paper, victory over bureaucracy concept

Advancements in technology has been eradicating the need for paper documentation for businesses across many industries.

Going ‘green’ and ‘lean’ are clichés in their own right, but the changes have become more and more apparent in recent past. We have already seen the publishing industry make the plunge to predominantly digital.

However, in the manufacturing sector, many documents are still processed the traditional way by being printed out. In most organizations, 63 percent of the paper being printed out are due to the need for signatures.

For example, when an EMS provider manufactures goods for say, a medical device company (or other companies in industries with specific protocols and laws), there is a large paper trail related to compliance and engineering specs that requires several signatures. By the time the process is closed, multiple printouts of the document (which could be over 50 pages if it has engineering drawings) have been signed, scanned and circulated to multiple people, possibly in distant locations.

This results in an abundance of paper records, which end up costing companies a significant amount of space, time, money, and in terms of the environment, trees.

The boxes and cabinets necessary to store all the physical documents not only take up space, but they are also inefficient. Locating files manually could take drastically longer than tracking the document electronically.

Manufacturers also have to factor in the time wasted in signing a document, scanning it and having to circulate to another person in a remote location to do the exact same thing. This is not even taking into account if there are revisions to the document.

The financial implications tied to physical documentation are higher than you might think. The average employee who has signing authority signs an average of 250 documents a year, which adds roughly $1,350 in annual paper-related costs. For large companies, this figure can easily exceed $100,000 per year.

Cost and Resource Reduction

Transitioning to paperless manufacturing lowers the cost of doing business for companies. It eliminates paper and ink expenses, it allows employees to focus on other tasks, and it frees up physical storage space that can be used more productively.

One of the ways manufacturers are going paperless is through digital signatures. Using services that allow companies to sign, file and distribute electronically can reduce the $1,350 per signer annual cost to under $100. It can also decrease paper consumption by over 50 percent, which is hugely beneficial for “green” companies looking to not only reduce overhead expenses but lessen their environmental impact.

However, going paperless can be a challenge for manufacturers. With a lot of industries like medical and security typically having strict protocols related to documentation, making sure that digital signing complies with regulatory standards can present some barriers. As a result, there are still companies and organizations that only accept ink-based signatures.

There are also costs to invest in the technology, including hiring somebody to run and implement it. Making the transition can also take time, as you migrate over from your past protocols. For some organizations, this can take up to a few years to fully integrate.

Eventually, all manufacturing facilities will operate 100 percent paperless, it just takes planning and the proper sign-off.

IPC Government & Electronics Industry Leadership Conference in D.C.

Creation CEO Bhawnesh Mathur discusses the electronics industry with Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota with Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota
IPC’s IMPACT 2014: Creation Technologies CEO Bhawnesh Mathur discusses the electronics industry with Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota

I believe strongly that the electronics industry and EMS providers such as Creation Technologies have key roles to play in the ongoing development of technology leadership.

I also believe that as today’s business leaders, we have a responsibility to do what we can to create economic opportunity and growth in our communities.

One way we can foster this growth is through activism in the industry associations that bring together and give a voice to our varied perspectives and expertise. As such, I currently sit on the IPC Board of Directors and serve as Chairman of the IPC Government Relations Steering Committee.

IPC Government Relations Committee & IMPACT 2014

The mandate of the IPC Government Relations program is to support the industry by “promoting policies that foster economic growth, job creation and enhance international competitiveness”, addressing key issues like tax, trade and environmental technology policy.

To that end, on June 10 and 11, I had the pleasure of spending time with 16 other executives from IPC member-companies while participating in IMPACT 2014: IPC on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The purpose of the conference was to share with senior American policymakers our collective perspective on current challenges and opportunities, and IPC was very successful in arranging a series of meetings to discuss specific initiatives that we believe will benefit our customers and strengthen the electronics industry.

These initiatives sparked thought-provoking discussion with all of the U.S. Government leaders with whom we met. It was an added pleasure to have the chance to meet with Members of Congress representing communities in which Creation has business units, specifically Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas, Congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky, Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota, and Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois.

Bhawnesh joins IPC Government Relations Committee colleagues and IPC President and CEO John Mitchell in a light-hearted moment with Senator Mark Warner
Bhawnesh joins IPC Government Relations Committee colleagues and IPC President and CEO John Mitchell in a light-hearted moment with Senator Mark Warner
Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois and Creation Technologies CEO Bhawnesh Mathur
Congressman Brad Schneider of Illinois and Creation Technologies CEO Bhawnesh Mathur

Some of the summit’s leading issues were:

Manufacturing and the economy: Support for domestic innovation and manufacturing through the creation and full funding of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), and passage of S. 1468/H.R. 2996, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act (RAMI). The NNMI is a public-private partnership that draws on the resources of the federal government, local governments, universities, research institutes and industry to accelerate R&D of manufacturing technologies with commercial applications. IPC is working with its members and the government to influence the selection of the next round of R&D programs in areas such as flexible hybrid electronics and electronic packaging and reliability.

Environmental regulation: A bipartisan effort to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and promote recycling of manufacturing byproducts.

National Security: A modernized export control regime with clear and appropriate controls on printed boards designed for defense electronics.

You can find more information in a blog post on IPC’s website: Electronics Industry Leaders Meet with U.S. Policy Makers on Capitol Hill

National Network for Manufacturing Innovation

The proposal for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation is a compelling one.

Today we’re seeing manufacturing and technology innovation like never before. Entrepreneurship is one of Creation’s Core Values, and so it’s exciting to see our governments invest actively in leadership and development at both federal and local levels.

In Canada, we saw the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP) established in 2013 through the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). Through short-term financial support to select incubators and accelerators, CAIP aims to “harness innovation” of small- and medium-sized business, providing the venture capital, expertise and infrastructure to fast-track new products and services to market.

In the U.S., the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation program has a similar goal, with the proposed legislation aiming to build a nationwide manufacturing innovation network with unparalleled reach and impact. Formation of this network is key in enabling Americans and American companies to excel in the development and commercialization of new technologies. Because Creation is a full-service electronics manufacturer with a specialization in turnkey product design services, this is something especially close to our hearts.

IPC Executives, Bhawnesh and electronics industry colleagues on IPC Government Relations Committee meeting with Senator John Cornyn
IPC Executives, Bhawnesh and electronics industry colleagues on IPC Government Relations Committee meeting with Senator John Cornyn

Working Together to Build the Future

At Creation, we see firsthand how electronics and electronics manufacturing continue to play pivotal roles in job creation, economic growth and technological advancement.

It’s heartening to see all stakeholders – from investors to entrepreneurs to business leaders to government to academia – invested in the manufacturing and technology ecosystems, and working together for transformation.

Forums like IPC’s IMPACT are essential to this kind of holistic collaboration, and it’s a privilege for me to take part. This year, as always, I learned a great deal from my fellow committee members and the elected officials with whom we had very good discussion, and I’m appreciative of everyone’s candor and insight. Thank you also to the IPC team for making the conference possible and for bringing government and industry leaders together to create alignment on key issues.

I look forward to IPC’s IMPACT 2015 and the opportunities it will bring to build relationships, awareness, and a bright future for the electronics industry.

US Dept of Commerce Conference: Key EU Environmental Updates

EU Environmental Legislation: US Dept of Commerce Update
EU Environmental Legislation: US Dept of Commerce Update

Do you sell Electrical & Electronic Equipment, including Medical devices, into the European Union?

Do you and your company need to understand EU environmental legislation and its changing scope?

Good news! In May, the US Department of Commerce is hosting a free conference to provide an update on key EU directives.

The conference will take place on May 5th, from 9:15am-12:00pm, in Washington, D.C.

EU Legislation Highlighted at the Conference

RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) Recast

  • Recent coverage of medical/electrical equipment and monitoring and control instruments
  • Potential revision of the list of Restricted Substances
  • Implications arising from the new edition of the ‘Blue Guide’

WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Recast – Just Implemented across Europe

  • Information about several key changes from the original WEEE Directive
  • New, just-released FAQ document (which can be found here)

ErP (Energy Related Products) Directive

  • Newly adopted implementing measures
  • Development of a new work plan covering many types of products
  • Product labeling

Batteries Directive

  • New amendments to the Directive
  • The issue of ‘removability’

Key speakers:

Steve Andrews – United Kingdom, Head of Environmental Regulation Unit and Policy Lead
Chris Smith – United Kingdom, Technical Manager and Operational Manager
Guenter Hoermindinger – First Counselor for Environment, EU Delegation to the United States

Registration information and the link to the Government release can be found here on the export.gov site.

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day

I bet my mom still has the thickly bound project I turned in for a grade 8 assignment on acid rain.

I can remember the cover clearly; “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs”, it said, and I spent hours lovingly illustrating and colouring it with my giant box of Laurentian pencil crayons. As I carefully blended colour upon colour, I thought about fossil fuels and pH balance and dying forests and sick fish.

I thought about the impact that my grade 8 self was having on those forests and fish.

And I made a choice to do better.

I suppose that’s what we call a ‘formative moment’ since today I still think about dying forests and sick fish, and I still try to do better where I can.

And while acid rain is no longer the affliction it was in the 80s, it and many other socially charged issues face us. As individuals. As organizations and institutions and governments.

In the electronics industry, for example, legislation continues to emerge from countries around the globe. Technology is evolving so rapidly and the demand for the ‘latest and greatest’ so high that many electronic products become obsolete seemingly overnight.

As a result, landfills are overflowing with electronic waste, and the chemicals therein. (It would be remiss of me not to state explicitly here that Creation’s environmental policy accounts for the safe and responsible disposal of all electronics and chemicals).

How much waste, you ask?

A whopping 40 million tonnes each year, if you can believe it.

E-Waste

The intent of each of the emerging environmental regulations is the same – take aim at this electronic waste and its effect on the health of our communities at large. The reality is that their divergent implementation processes and requirements are having an adverse effect.

But, (with thanks to those groups actively working toward the establishment of globally harmonized environmental policy), I digress.

What I really want to say is that it’s easy to choose to do better. Even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

And what better day than Earth Day to begin to do that little bit better?

Occurring each April since 1970, Earth Day is a day to reflect on our impact on the earth, our local ecosystem and the environment in general. It’s also a day to take action.

In 2013, it’s estimated that more than 1 billion people in 192 countries are participating in Earth Day.

Like Kermit says, sometimes it’s not easy being green.

http://www.youtu.be/yKoLBSK8SSE&w?rel=0

So to help you be one of the 1 billion, here are some simple Earth Day tips. To help you avoid stopping at Earth Day, there’s one for you try each week for a year.

Try making just one new change or adding one new habit or resolve each week. Share your favourite tips with your friends and family. You’ll be surprised at the impact you’ll have.

What are your favourite Earth Day tips? Please share them in the comments!

52 Green Tips for Earth Day

Save on Gas

    1. Walk, cycle or use public transportation.
    2. Organize a carpool.
    3. Don’t be a lead foot. Avoid aggressive driving as rapid acceleration and braking can decrease gas mileage.
    4. Check your tire pressure at least twice a month and add air when needed. Not only will your car handle better, but under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy by up to 3% and leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions and releases of air pollutants. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, you can find it listed on the door to the glove compartment or on the driver’s-side door pillar.
    5. Check your owner’s manual to see what maintenance you might have skipped. A well-maintained car is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is more reliable, and is safer! Also check and replace your vehicle’s air filter regularly.
    6. If it’s clear that a train or other barrier will block your vehicle for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine. An idling vehicle burns more fuel than a simple restart. And you won’t be polluting when the engine is off.

Change How You Think About Food

    1. Consider where your food comes from (buying locally where possible) and try to alter your menu to buy seasonal foods. The average meal travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.
    2. Buy fresh instead of processed foods, which require more energy to produce, starting from extraction, manufacturing, transport, advertising and marketing.
    3. Don’t use straws for drinks and shakes.
    4. Do not buy bottled water.
    5. Buy organic foods as much as possible. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!
    6. Eat less meat. Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.
    7. Avoid eating fish such as monkfish, farmed Atlantic salmon, bluefin tuna, orange roughy and others that have low populations, poor management of stocks, habitat damage and over-fishing. A full list of these fish can be found at www.seachoice.org.

Save a Tree

    1. Read your daily dose of news online.
    2. Work digitally whenever possible. Stop printing, but if you must, print double-sided.
    3. Buy recycled paper products. It takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.
    4. When you’ve finished reading the latest issue of your favourite magazine or other periodical, don’t toss in it in the recycling box (and definitely don’t throw it in the trash)! Instead, drop it off at your gym, office, local gathering spot, or swap it with a friend.
    5. Use a reusable ‘canvas’ shopping bag. Avoid use of plastic shopping bags.
    6. Plant a tree. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
    7. If using solid wood for a renovation project, select products with the Forest Stewardship Council label, certifying the wood was responsibly grown and harvested. Or find salvaged wood products at local used-building materials retailers.
    8. Dimensional lumber that is 2-by-10 and larger often comes from increasingly rare old-growth forests. So for larger lumber and beams, consider engineered materials made of wood harvested from faster-growing tree species and glued together to form a finished product. These products often perform better than solid-sawed wood, which is subject to warping, splitting and cracking.

Stop Pollution, Protect Your Health

    1. Avoid the store-bought air fresheners and purifiers (including the ones with a “natural” or “green” label) that actually leech toxins into the air you and your family breathe. Common ingredients include phthalates (linked to birth defects) and VOCs (linked to kidney damage, liver damage and damage to the central nervous system including the brain). Scary, right?
      Instead, try simmering cinnamon, orange peel, and cloves on the stove. It’ll give your home the fresh smell of, well, cinnamon, orange peel and cloves.
    2. Use baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes to absorb odours around the house.
    3. To create a tub-scum cleaner, mix baking soda and a “green” liquid soap to a honey-thick consistency. Apply it with a little elbow grease and perhaps a splash of white vinegar.
    4. Plain water on a cloth works great for the vast majority of dusting chores. If in need of something more powerful, choose the least-toxic product for the job at hand.
    5. Reduce your garbage. Can you reuse the item you are about to throw away? If not, what about someone else?
    6. Do not idle your car.
    7. Dispose of toxic chemicals appropriately. For example, mercury is present in small quantities in fluorescent bulbs, and in larger quantities in older thermostats and some light switches.
      These items must be disposed of at a hazardous waste collection site.
    8. Choose low-toxic paints that also are low in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which convert to gas at room temperatures. Outdoors, certain VOCs react with sunlight to create smog. Indoors, VOCs can irritate lungs and cause allergic reactions. Check the paint label for a VOC level below 150 grams per liter. Zero-VOC paints also are available.
    9. The common household cleaners under our sinks contain many chemicals that are proven to be associated with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer and hormone disruption. And that lovely, “fresh” smell? The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that 30% of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic, but because the chemical formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, companies aren’t required to list their ingredients but merely label them as containing “fragrance.”Ready to try an alternative?
      • For an all-purpose cleaner, mix vinegar and salt for a good surface cleaner. Pour some baking soda and vinegar on a damp sponge. It will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
      • To clean your windows, mix equal amounts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Wipe the glass with newspaper for a streak-free shine.
      • To polish your faucets? Use cucumber! (Yes, really). Rub cucumber on the surface to clean the area and bring back shine by removing years of tarnish.
      • Find more good ideas like these here: http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

Water Conservation

    1. Shorten your shower time, turn off the tap when soaping and don’t use more water than you need.
    2. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
    3. Try not to water your lawn.
    4. Choose a dual-flush toilet.

Energy Conservation

  1. Install a programmable thermostat that lets you automatically lower the temperature when no one is home or when the family is asleep. According to Energy Star, this can save up to $150 a year.
  2. Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load and use the energy-saving setting.
  3. Refrigerators and freezers account for almost 20% of a home’s energy use, so select energy-efficient models when buying a replacement.
  4. Unplug your computer, television, stereo, microwave, cell phone charger and other electronic appliances and gadgets instead of just turning them off. Save an average of $90 a year by shutting down a home computer every night.
  5. Avoid air purifiers and fresheners as well as insect repellents that plug into electric outlets.
  6. If you need a new computer, buy a laptop if you can. A laptop uses just 25% of the power required by a desktop computer.
  7. Use cold water for your laundry. It can save up to 80% of the energy required to wash clothes.
  8. Plant a tree that will shade your house as well as reduce the need for air conditioning. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%.
  9. Insulate and weatherize your home. Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year.
  10. The average home contains two televisions, a DVD player and three phones. These home electronics can use more energy than you think. As you replace existing equipment, look for Energy Star models that help reduce carbon emissions.
  11. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room!
  12. Turn off your pilots on your furnace if and when you do not need to heat your house.
  13. Turn off the pilot on your water heater when you go on vacation.
  14. Set up a ‘charging station’ for equipment that needs charging — plug everything into a power bar and turn that off until you actually need to charge something.
  15. Replace incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) or LEDs.
  16. Turn down your water heater.
  17. Turn down your thermostat.
  18. Always recycle. It’s a no-brainer. One of the easiest ways to ‘go green’ is to recycle your waste. If you’re entertaining, make it easy for your guests to recycle, too.

Why I Want a BigBelly

One morning driving to work, out of nowhere I found myself thinking about how I would love to have a big belly.  A little strange right? But then I’m not referring to a big belly in the physical sense.

I am talking about the BigBelly Solar compactors that are popping up at universities, parks, resorts and business districts across the U.S. as companies and municipalities aim to cut costs and go green.

What’s a BigBelly?

While walking down a Boston street, BigBelly founder Jim Poss observed a garbage truck in action – idling at a pick up point, blocking traffic, with smoke pouring out of its exhaust, while litter was still prevalent on the street.  Then he learned that garbage trucks consume more than 1 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year in the U.S. alone!

Poss was struck by the thought that there had to be a better way.  Drawing on this insight, experience in electric vehicle engineering and an enthusiasm for environmental solutions, Poss formed a company that designed the world’s first solar-powered trash compactor.

The BigBelly solar garbage compactors use the power of the sun to compact trash deposited into the container.  Once the trash compactor is full, it sends a signal to a monitoring station alerting the Division of Waste Management to the need for trash pick-up.

Each BigBelly compactor holds five times the garbage of a normal trash can!

The BigBelly solar compactor has been engineered to be extremely energy efficient and operates with high reliability in the most difficult environmental climates.

BigBelly Solar: Creation Technologies Visit
Left to right with the solar compactor are Troy Watros – General Manager of Creation Lexington, Chris Summersgill – VP Operations BigBelly Solar, Mayor Jim Gray, and Eddie Scott – BigBelly Cell Captain at Creation.

Big Belly & Creation Technologies: A Perfect Match

BigBelly Solar partnered with our team at Creation Technologies in 2010 to build the complete solar-powered trash compactor units.

We asked Chris Summersgill, VP Operations for BigBelly, what it was that tipped the scales in our favor. At the risk of sounding self-promotional, we’re proud to share his response:

“We completed an extensive search for an electronics manufacturing services partner and Creation best fit our criteria.  Creation’s Lexington team’s disciplined approach to high quality, repeatable manufacturing was evident by the organization’s dedication to LEAN manufacturing principles.

The opportunity to combine multiple functions, such as PCB assembly, box build, test capabilities and drop ship of individual orders under one roof was a huge plus.  Creation’s sourcing capabilities and buying sophistication = cost down and high availability leverage for BigBelly Solar.

We feel very positive about our choice of Creation as a partner and look forward to taking advantage of more of the value that Creation brings to the relationship in the future.”

We feel pretty positive, too, Chris!

What Can We Do?

Create Jobs. Run Government Efficiently. Build a Great American City.

City of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray
Mayor Jim Gray taking photos of the City of Lexington’s new BigBelly Solar trash compactor during his visit to Creation Technologies

These were the themes introduced by Lexington, KY Mayor Jim Gray during his State of the Merged Government Speech in January.   Those themes resonated with us. How could Creation help reach these goals?

BigBelly came to mind.  We believe in the BigBelly Solar waste & recycling system as a product,  but we also love what they are doing from both an economic and environmental perspective.

As Troy, our GM in Lexington put it, “Since the BigBelly stations are solar-powered, they don’t need an external power source. They compact the trash, so Waste Management makes fewer trips to empty them. … trucks are out less, use less fuel and emissions are lowered.  The long-term benefits are substantial.”

BigBelly has more than 12,000 compactors deployed worldwide.

This is a company making a significant dent in the wasteful consumption of fossil fuels!

Even better, the BigBelly products mean:

  • Savings of hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel each year while freeing up thousands of man-hours for other tasks
  • Savings of millions of dollars in aggregate annual budget savings
  • Customers can close budget gaps and avoid layoffs
  • Customers can continue to provide a high quality of life to their citizens and visitors

And an idea was born.  Why not keep the city green and try to grow business by donating a BigBelly solar compactor to the City of Lexington?  We ran the idea by BigBelly, who was fully on board. Creation would donate the solar compactor, and BigBelly Solar would donate the ongoing service contract and training.

Today, our Lexington team is working with the Mayor’s staff to determine the best location for their awesome new solar-powered trash compactor.  We will keep you posted!

 

Interested in creating a better environment for your city?    Need to create efficiencies and reduce cost?  Then you may want a BigBelly too.  What do you think?  Where would you use a solar-powered trash compactor?

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