As environmental concerns grow, carmakers are trying to reduce emissions from every possible area. Manufacturing is one such area, which has undergone several improvements and changes in order to extract more efficiency. Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) started working on this parameter a long time back and has made significant progress in the last few years. In this report, we take a look at some of the key developments and their effect on the company’s carbon footprint.
In order to improve efficiency and usage of natural resources, Maruti Suzuki India has identified five key areas to work on. These include:
:: Material Use & Weight Reduction
Car manufacturing is a resource intensive activity and any reduction in the consumption of various materials can vastly benefit the environment. Maruti Suzuki India through its ‘One Gram One Component’ programme has been able to considerably reduce the weight of vehicles. The process of raw material consumption was intensively looked at and numerous measures were taken to optimise the process. The scrap generated in press and casting operations is now sent to suppliers, who in turn use it for manufacturing child parts or other sub-systems.
Another key focus was to improve yield in order to optimise the use of important resources. The related measures were spread across sheet metal, plastics, electrical and casting operations. In 2011-12 alone, 287 yield improvement measures became effective, resulting in material savings of more than 2,000 tonne.
:: Energy Conservation
Reduction in energy consumption plays a critical role in reducing emissions and manufacturing costs. Maruti Suzuki India has made good progress in this area at both its plants in Gurgaon and Manesar. A company spokesperson told us that energy consumption per car has reduced by 30 % at the Gurgaon plant in the last 10 years, while the newer plant in Manesar achieved the same level of improvement in just about five years.
Adding further to the energy credentials is the fact that both plants are powered by captive power units, which use natural gas. This significantly reduces the emissions in comparison with power derived from coal. Total energy consumed by the two plants in the year 2011-12 was 5,916,312 GJ (gigajoules), while the indirect energy used amounted to 8,458 GJ.
The Manesar plant derives 100 % of its artificial lighting from LEDs, making it the first plant in India to do so. The savings in power are of such magnitude that despite the higher initial cost, LEDs prove cost-effective in the long run. Also, numerous new smaller measures in the production process have brought down the energy consumption for various actions. One such measure is the use of gravity conveyors in the weld shop. This eliminates the need for electric motors to move the conveyor belt and hence results in significant energy savings. In the paint shop too, new processes have reduced the number of coats, thereby lowering the power requirement.
:: Water Conservation
Water is one of the most widely used natural resources in manufacturing and optimal usage of it is critical for the future of our planet. Maruti Suzuki’s plants are presently certified for zero waste water discharge. The company is focused on improving recycling capabilities and in 2011-12, was able to fulfil 41 % of its water requirement through recycled water.
Owing to waste minimisation and process improvement, the company has been able to lower water consumption per car by 61 % at the Gurgaon plant in the decade preceding 2011-12. The Manesar facility achieved an improvement of about 56 % in the same area but in a shorter span of just five years. Water sources for the plants include canal, tube well and rain.
:: Air Emission Reduction
The power plants account for more than 90 % of the company’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. The emission levels of these units are claimed to be lower than the prescribed limits by the Pollution Control Board. A recent measure taken to reduce these emissions includes improvement in the operational efficiency of gas turbines. In addition, a special fluidised bed type incinerator was installed for cleaning of paint booth gratings instead of a direct burning type incinerator.
:: Waste Management
An environmentally friendly manufacturing policy is never complete until the waste management process is well defined and made efficient. At Maruti Suzuki, the list of hazardous waste materials comprises of paint, phosphate and Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) sludge, incinerator ash and used oil.
Used oil is sold to authorised recyclers while the paint, phosphate and ETP sludge is sent to the cement industry for co-processing. This process has eliminated the need for incineration and land-filling, leading to further reduction in emissions. All solid waste materials such as metal scrap and glass waste are also sold to authorised recyclers.
The company encourages its supply chain to adopt green manufacturing policies and actively supports them for the same. Experts from Maruti Suzuki India pay regular visits to joint venture companies and perform energy audits. Post the audit, these experts suggest methods to further improve the efficiency within the production process. In the past, the company has participated in energy saving projects with its suppliers, resulting in energy cost reduction across the value chain. Such activities will continue to be done along with them being scaled up in capacity to achieve further improvement across the supply chain.
Going forward, Maruti Suzuki India also plans to increase the efficiency of all operations along with introduction of new technologies. A key focus for the future is solar energy, which will progressively be scaled up to support the company’s manufacturing and operational power requirements. In line with this plan, a one MW solar plant has been set-up at the company’s Manesar plant. One MW may not account for a significant part of the company’s requirement but is a good beginning.
Maruti Suzuki India started early in the area of green manufacturing, and the impressive results in a short span of time prove that the progress has been swift. Having learnt of the upcoming measures and policies, we can safely say that Maruti Suzuki India will continue to be at par with the industry and competition standards in terms of green manufacturing.
Text: Arpit Mahendra
Photo: Maruti Suzuki India Limited