Tag Archives: Carbon Conscious Components

Smart Business, Sustainable Business- Eco-Economics at HARBEC

A vibrant economy is enabled by a healthy environment. Businesses and manufacturers in particular, can play a tremendous role to ensure the earth’s natural resources are not wasted, and that we do our part in conserving natural resources and protecting human health and the environment. With demand for natural resources intensifying, many businesses are working harder than ever to integrate principles of sustainability into all facets of their enterprise.

Far too often environmental stewardship is considered a “cost center” or expense to the business. This false perception can limit proactive environmental performance and the powerful impact business can have in protecting human health and the environment. Leading edge businesses have realized that their environmental and financial performance is not mutually exclusive. Business sustainability has been an evolving opportunity to gain top-and-bottom line growth by smartly integrating sustainability into the culture, strategy, and operations of the business. In fact, many businesses ranging from Unilever, LEGO, Adidas, and UPS have now realized that sustainability is not a catch-phrase, but an entirely unique strategy to design, manufacture, and deliver products that provide a sustainable benefit to society, solve complex environmental challenges, and also result in financial improvements that enable continued innovation and business growth.

In fact, according to The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US-SIF), the market for socially responsible investing exceeds $6.5 trillion in the U.S. alone. This is significant for public-and-private companies. Each of the past three years have seen increases in shareholder resolutions for publicly-traded companies, pushing them to improve their performance on specific environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activities. Investors, ranging from large institutional investors like mutual funds and colleges and universities, state retirement funds, and individuals, are asking more from business with regard to their ESG performance. Like the businesses they choose to invest in, investors want to minimize risk and maximize financial opportunity. Thus the investment community is looking for business to become more transparent and accountable to how they deal with their ESG performance.

Businesses that are choosing to “compete on sustainability” are realizing top line growth in revenue by being able to access new market opportunities and earn new customers based upon their ability to differentiate their business, brand, products, and performance. Those companies that also embrace “inside the fence” operational strategies for sustainable performance also benefit from significant bottom line financial results. By becoming more resource efficient, sustainable operations leaders can achieve higher productivity at lower costs and resource intensity than their peers. The net result: revenue growth and higher margins for their businesses.

This formula for financial success embraces pragmatic business strategy with operational excellence and a culture of continuous improvement. Sustainable business is smart business. It yields financial results, environmental performance, and ultimately, a more competitive, trusted, accountable business. More and more that formula, and its quotient (less risk and greater upside potential) is exactly what communities, customers, shareholders, suppliers, and others are looking for from their partners.

HARBEC has spent the past fifteen years working to demystify the symbiotic link between sustainable and financial performance. Years ago HARBEC learned that while the environmental story was important to its leadership and employees, others (financial institutions, suppliers, customers, and so on) wanted to know that financial performance was not compromised. In response to this need, HARBEC developed an internal Eco-Economic model for evaluating the costs and benefits of all technologies, equipment, and projects that relate to business objectives for achieving carbon neutrality. HARBEC’s Eco-Economic model is also a deliberate tool to ensure that the business always achieves financial value from its investments, so that goals for environmental, energy, social, and sustainable impact do not interfere with the ability of the business to achieve desired financial performance.

By incorporating Eco-Economic decision criteria into its purchase of energy efficiency measures HARBEC has been able to use “energy dollars” or those dollars which would have been spent on electricity (kWh) and gas (therms) from the utility toward high-value energy efficiency improvements. The result of this unique approach has been significant. HARBEC has been able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs by offsetting what they would have paid for energy if they had not made Eco-Economic analytical choices on energy improvements.

 

Doing the right thing, every day

“Sustainable Manufacturing is defined as the creation of manufactured products that use processes which minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities, and consumers and are economically sound.”

–         US Department of Commerce

Harbec is seriously committed to sustainable manufacturing. We regard eco-economic sustainability as absolutely critical to the future of our business, and we believe that our success in the pursuit of it will improve our competitive advantage by insuring our efficiency. For the past fifteen years we have been on a journey to identify, prioritize, implement, and validate eco-economic opportunities to minimize the environmental impact of our manufacturing operations while increasing the impact and value we provide our employees, customers, and community. Here is a brief timeline of our accomplishments:

HarbecTimeline1

During the past 15-years we have accomplished a great deal, however we always seek to do more.  With an unwavering commitment to continuous improvement, we strive to achieve environmental excellence in all that we do. Many years ago Harbec became ISO 14001 certified as part of our journey and recognition that being accountable to, and managing our environmental impacts made business sense. We recently expanded our commitment to understanding, measuring, and managing our impact, particularly with regard to our energy use. Harbec is now ISO 50001/SEP (Platinum) certified, an achievement that we are very proud of and which can be read about in this case study by our certification partner, DEKRA.

While taking action on our energy and environmental footprint and impacts result in tangible eco-economic value to our business, Harbec could not have achieved our results without a strong policy to guide our efforts. Harbec’s energy and environmental policies include:

ecoPolicy

By enacting an environmental and energy policy coupled with a disciplined pursuit of continuous improvement, we’ve been able to set ambitious goals, such as being a Carbon Neutral manufacturing company. In 2013 we achieved that goal. We also reaffirmed our commitment to energy and environmental excellence by signing on as a U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Better Plants Challenge Partner with the goal of achieving a 25% reduction in energy intensity by 2020. But our efforts have not stopped there. To achieve our goals we know that we have to innovate and be responsive to the marketplace. We are working to integrate two significant technology trends, as noted by Forbes Magazine, into a leading edge opportunity to create high value carbon conscious components by leveraging nature inspired design with the incredible potential of 3D additive manufacturing. In fact we recently announced a partnership with NYSERDA to Demonstrate the Transformative Potential of Energy-Efficient 3D Printing.

Our business philosophy is based on being an environmentally responsible company which provides sustainable manufacturing solutions to our customers and a rewarding workplace for our employees. We seek to inspire and enrich the growth and development for each individual employee and the company as a whole.  Our founder, Bob Bechtold, leads by example and shows others how the value of Eco-Economics can be a long-term business solution. To that end, our external focus to environmental awareness and education is another example of our commitment to sustainability. Examples include:

  • We actively participate in conferences and events where its knowledge of Carbon Neutral and Sustainable Manufacturing can be shared among peers. For example, Harbec will be a featured speaker at the Sustainable Manufacturing Conference in May 2014.
  • We regularly provides tours of its facility for K-12 students, college and university students and researchers, other manufacturers, government officials, entrepreneurs, and others. Tours include detailed orientation and description (as well as hands on visualization) of Harbec’s energy improvements, innovations, facilities and infrastructure.
  • We provide contributions to trade associations, trade journals and magazines, and other high visibility and niche publications which extends the transfer of technology and sharing of knowledge on sustainable manufacturing and potential for manufacturers to achieve carbon neutrality.
  • In the past month Harbec participated in the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC) “Mission Green”. The RMSC event was an all age’s family fun event which provided practical hands-on exhibits and information to help make the world more green and safe. Harbec participated alongside one of our customers, KidWind, a designer and maker of renewable energy education curriculum, workshops, and hands-on experimentation tools and kits.

We believe that taking care of the environment is everyone’s responsibility. With the right balance of policy, management systems, technology, and commitment, business can be a force for social, economic, and environmental good. Thank you to all of the employees, customers, and partners that have and continue to believe in Harbec’s endless pursuit of eco-economic excellence. Happy Earth Day!

Celebrating 2013: The Power of People, Partnerships and Performance

As we come to the close of 2013 there is much to be grateful for. The manufacturing sector in the U.S. is gaining momentum, particularly since all five components of the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) purchasing managers’ index (PMI) have demonstrated their strongest performance since mid-2011. In our last blog we touched on the vital role of American manufacturing and how many businesses that shifted production of goods overseas in the past fifteen years have begun to reinvest in U.S.-based production. The manufacturing sector of the U.S. is proving to be resilient. From our point of view at Harbec, the following three elements contributed to the strong momentum of our business the past year:

  • Performance
  • Partnerships
  • People

At Harbec we have seen firsthand, tangible outcomes that can occur by focusing on our performance, our people, and our partnerships. In 2013 Harbec updated its ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications reflecting our commitment to quality and environmental management systems. We also pursued and were certified ISO 50001/SEP recognizing the importance of energy management systems to our business. The “SEP” designation for ISO 50001 stands for “Superior Energy Performance” and is an industry-led certification program that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and focuses Harbec on achieving continual improvements toward energy efficiency. Our ISO certifications for quality, environmental, and energy practices are reflective of our philosophy of continual improvement in all that we do. As a result, Harbec is a leaner, stronger, more productive, and more aware organization than it was a year prior. In addition, our performance has also improved in all aspects of our business, but particularly our performance in helping our customers with custom engineered solutions. Our ability to adopt continuous improvement programs has enabled us adapt to change, drive innovation, and invest in our plant and our people. Consequently, we have achieved cycle-time, speed to market, quality, and cost-competitiveness improvements which have positively impacted our operating performance and customer satisfaction. Harbec’s performance was also enhanced by our partnerships in 2013. In the past year we extended our commitment to energy performance by becoming a U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Better Plants Partner. In doing so, we have set a goal to further reduce our energy intensity by 25% by year 2020. As 2014 approaches we will also announce some additional partnerships that we worked hard to solidify in 2013, including efforts to integrate new manufacturing capabilities with research and development and our energy reduction goals.  In 2014 we will announce a new initiative we are working on to use additive manufacturing tools to incorporate nature inspired (biomimicry) designs into production-capable injection molds that can further reduce cycle-time and energy consumption. The partnerships we established this past year were in support of Harbec’s 2013 goal of becoming a Carbon Neutral production facility, which we are proud to have achieved. As a result, we can now provide “Carbon Conscious Components” to our customers as an added value to our existing technical and business solutions.

While we are proud of our accomplishments, we are most grateful for the beating heart to our organization, our people. Without the hard work, dedication, engagement and collaboration of our employees, we would not be able to achieve our mission or sustain our growth. Harbec’s employees are the glue that bonds technical capabilities with customer expectations to achieve custom engineered solutions. In 2013 our employees demonstrated grace under pressure, wisdom and tact. As a recap, the graphic below highlights a sample of what we are grateful for having accomplished through our Performance, Partnerships and People in 2013.

In our view the greatest benefit occurs when people, partnerships, and performance can be integrated to achieve outcomes that are more consequential, lasting, and sustainable than if addressed singularly. In 2014, we commit to continue our efforts to align and integrate the power of people with strong external partnerships and toward performance improvements. Thank you to our employees, partners, and customers who have enabled Harbec to continue to evolve as a high value custom injection molding business with a social and environmental conscious to our customers and the world. We wish you the best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!