Environment – Experts Discuss Ways to Conserve Energy
A Careful Look at Current Processes Reveals All Kinds of Waste
As I am in charge of developing equipment for the production line, I clearly understand the feelings and perspective of production site staff. This also enables me to easily recognize waste. When searching for waste, I begin by looking at the energy required for production and the energy required for the production environment, and then check to see if the energy being used is meeting those objectives. For example, if a machine used in processing is operational but idle, or if an air conditioner is running in an empty room, then energy is being wasted.
Taking a careful look at things taken for granted at the production site and questioning the usefulness and necessity of things will reveal all kinds of waste. This is the perspective I hope to impart through the inspection activities at each factory.
Mr. Shibata has been touring factories since 2003. In 2005, he received The METI Minister's Award for Excellent Energy Conservation Factory for his efforts as a front runner in factory energy conservation.
Indicating Immediate Improvements through Discussions with Factory Staff
I am a bit different from other members in that although my background is in architecture and building services, I conduct inspections that confirm the usage of air and boilers. I look at the use of energy based on the perspective of just-in-time production activities. If necessary items are not in their necessary place at the necessary times, loss occurs. I have visited many factories in the past where oil pressure pumps and exhaust fans were running even though nothing was being produced. This type of waste must be eliminated.
Employees who work at the production site play a leading role in the promotion of energy conservation. This is why I always try to talk with as many on-site staff as possible when conducting inspections. Offering my suggestions and then asking their opinions gets them started asking questions, so we can have a constructive dialogue. By indicating immediate improvements, I can convey my thoughts and ideas easily and directly.
Mr. Kobayashi has made significant achievements in the promotion of basic unit management. At present, he recommends energy-saving equipment and systems to customers across Japan as a consulting business based on his expertise. He also has considerable experience with improvements in non-Mitsubishi Electric factories.
Energy Conservation Improvements at Production Sites an Ongoing Effort
My specialty is electronics, but my particular focus in the context of inspections is heat. Heat-related energy loss is common, and oftentimes more energy than necessary is used. One familiar example is heating a kettle to boil water. This process wastes considerable energy. I think that thorough heat-related improvements will have a major effect on energy conservation.
With energy conservation improvements at production sites, continuity is key. When on-site activities first began, many ideas were suggested, and people gradually began believing that nothing further could be accomplished. I think energy conservation inspections are crucial to ongoing improvements. This is why I make the utmost effort to discover areas for improvement at each factory I visit.
Power Distribution Systems Center
Mr. Takagi was a pioneer in the visualization of energy in on-site production, and has made notable achievements in this area. In 2008, he was awarded the METI Minister's Award for Excellent Energy Conservation Management.
Inheriting the Knowledge of Veteran Employees to Carry on to the Next Generation
As the member with the least amount of experience, I always try to add some of my own originality during inspection activities. My particular focus is the various components used in production equipment and the energy they use. In many cases, waste occurs because energy conservation was not taken into consideration when equipment was introduced. Such cases offer the potential for energy savings through changing the equipment controls. I check for waste by applying the experience I have cultivated in production equipment.
Being younger than the other experts, I benefit a lot from the knowledge of veteran employees. Their presence during inspections is helpful, and the feedback and communication they provide during and after inspections is particularly useful. I want to continue this process of inheriting knowledge and passing it on to the next generation.
Formerly a production technology manager developing production equipment, Mr. Ichikawa moved to the Environmental Department 11 years ago, where he began participating in factory inspection tours originally conducted for educational purposes. After gleaning knowledge from veteran employees, he began promoting improvements at his factory, and he is now the youngest energy conservation expert on the team.