EnvironmentEnvironment – Goals and Merits of the Energy Conservation Expert Inspection

Goals and Merits of the Energy Conservation Expert Inspection

Experts Selected from Factories Across Japan to Support Energy Conservation through Production Line Improvements

Energy conservation experts are employees who have been involved in energy conservation initiatives at factories across Japan, particularly those who possess considerable experience, have a track record of excellence in energy conservation activities and are highly skilled pioneers. Several experts are selected nationwide to be strong supporters of energy conservation through production line improvements promoted by the head office's Corporate Environmental Sustainability Group.

These experts constitute a team that tours factories in Japan and overseas, conducting inspections from multiple perspectives. At present, these inspections are focused on factories that emit a comparatively large volume of CO2, as well as factories that are models of energy conservation. In fiscal 2010, inspections were conducted at three domestic and one overseas factory. In addition to pointing out areas for improvement overlooked by factory staff, experts encourage staff to join them in taking a fresh look at the factory. Looking at their workplace from a different point of view, employees discover new perspectives and ways of thinking.

Eyes Trained to Spot Areas for Improvement

Experts visiting factories to conduct inspections observe every detail of the production site. From infrastructure such as electrical equipment, boilers, air compressors and ductwork, to the management of production equipment, experts make detailed observations of operations as well as people, checking for the smallest losses and inefficiencies.

Although each factory has traditionally engaged in energy conservation improvement initiatives under their respective environmental promotion managers, the experts possess experience cultivated at many production sites and are able to discover the need for improvement in a wide range of areas. With backgrounds that include personal involvement in the development of production equipment for the manufacturing technology department, the promotion of line energy visualization as the head of energy management and various other work histories, these experts have formulated their own theories on improvement based on visits to numerous factories and wealth of experience. They use this experience to discover areas for improvement from a fresh perspective.

Energy conservation experts conducting inspections.

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Supporting On-Site Improvements with a Detailed Inspection List

Setting up a venue to share inspection results. At this meeting, employees learn the expert's perspective to discover areas for improvement.

After inspections have been conducted, each recommended improvement is explained to the factory manager and provided as a list of action items to the factory. In 2010, inspections conducted at the Shizuoka Works in January uncovered 120 action items, activities at the Nagoya Works in February found 70 items, and inspections at the Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Systems Works (Wakayama) in March discovered 170 items.

The action items are categorized into improvements that can be implemented immediately and those that require a certain amount of time and cost, so that each factory can determine the most efficient way to make improvements based on the inspection list and given their present situation. The energy conservation experts provide an excellent opportunity for promoting production line improvements at factories.

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Advice for Progress, Not an Audit

Energy conservation expert inspections differ from audits and examinations in that they provide forward-looking suggestions and advice rather than evaluating past activity.

The inspections provide strong support for vigorous improvement activities at each factory. In this way, they are similar to the diagnosis a doctor would give their patient. Factory staff appreciate these diagnoses, which in turn inspires the experts to redouble their discovery efforts.

Experts encourage staff to take a fresh look at the factory with them. Looking at their workplace from a different point of view helps employees discover new perspectives and ways of thinking. The direct and indirect effects of these inspections combine to raise the overall level of improvements at each factory.

Inheriting the Experience of Experts to Target Further Developments

In the past, we multiplied our production output by a 0.1% investment in energy-efficiency, but volatile business conditions have lowered our overall production output, making investment and capital expenditures difficult. As a result, production line improvements are conducted through "intelligent" energy conservation. Despite our inability to make large investments, each factory is finding intelligent ways to eliminate waste and inefficiency, and promote energy conservation and CO2 reduction.

The production site is like a living entity, constantly changing in response to a variety of factors, including the movement of markets, the development of new products and the advancement of new technologies. In this sense, the need for improvements is endless. Likewise, for each factory, an energy conservation expert inspection is not the final goal, but a new starting point. By inheriting and further developing the experience of experts, factories in Japan and overseas are able to take their own steps toward the achievement of larger goals.

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A Promotional Leader Discusses Further CO2 Reductions

Human Resource Cultivation Part of Ongoing Efforts to Improve Energy Conservation

Yoshio Kasuga

Promotion Group Manager,
Corporate Environmental
Sustainability Group

We are seeing results beyond the inspections conducted by the energy conservation experts. Their accurate inspections and our own efforts are linked to significant improvements.

We plan on cultivating energy conservation promotion leaders to advance energy conservation improvements at each production site. We will cultivate these promotional leaders through training on energy conservation methods and improvement expertise, selecting employees from each production site to promote energy management and improvement activities. Promotional leaders will conduct inspections along with energy conservation experts to develop knowledge and skills firsthand, with the long-term goal of becoming energy conservation experts in their own right.

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