Deere employees in Maharashtra, India, made changes in the paint shop to reduce several key environmental measures by more than 20 percent.
John Deere Pune Works in Maharashtra, India, has grown rapidly. So have its demands on the environment.
As the number of tractors produced at the plant more than doubled from 2008 to 2012, the facility's sprawling paint shop consumed more water and energy, including liquefied propane gas (LPG). It also produced more hazardous waste.
But in 2012, a team at the plant set out to reduce the paint shop's environmental impact by shrinking its water and energy requirements, as well as its hazardous waste generation, by 5 percent each.
In industrial settings, motors are often left running continuously to avoid the wear and tear of on/off cycles; some machines are left on for convenience; and some have power ratings mismatched for the job. The Pune team saw all these as opportunities to save energy.
They optimized equipment ratings (for example, reducing the frequency on the parts paint line air supply unit from 50 Hz to 35 Hz). They also reduced or eliminated idle running time by programming pumps on a chassis paint line to run at low RPMs during down time. And they reduced equipment cycle time, in one case by using hydraulic actuation to speed the operation of a three-way valve during spray control.
The team also found various ways to reduce water use. For example, they began saving 5000 liters a day by installing a sensor at the entry of a pretreatment sprayer line to shut off the water when no parts are on the line.
Redesigning one process reduced LPG use on a paint hanger line by 3 kilograms per tractor and increased productivity by 70 percent.
The team also made cuts to hazardous waste production. On one line, they replaced conventional liquid paint with powder coating to reduce the hazardous sludge generated by 2.4 kilograms per tractor. The switch also more than doubled paint efficiency and eliminated volatile organic compounds.
In all, the team made changes that helped them exceed their ambitious goals — reducing annual power, water, and LPG consumption per tractor by more than 20 percent, and paint sludge produced per tractor by a similar amount. The team will be sharing its findings with other Deere facilities.