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Case studies

We are committed to our CR programme and around the world our business units are undertaking initiatives and projects that support this.

The case studies below explain some of the activities under way and demonstrate how we are meeting our corporate responsibilities and developing best practice that we can share across our global operations.

Our Manufacturing

As a manufacturing business we depend on water as a resource and we are very conscious of using water in a responsible and efficient way.  In some areas where we operate, water might be scarce and availability limited, so we are always looking for alternatives to using water from the local municipal supply, so that our process water is not automatically taken away from local communities.  Where this is not possible, we try to recycle the water we extract so that it can be re-used in our manufacturing processes.  Suitable effluent treatments then help us to return clean waste water to the environment.

In 2016, we recycled 8.3% of the water used in our global operations, we’ve almost doubled the percentage of water recycled compared to 2015 (4.2%).

In 2014, Coats India introduced a new water treatment system in their Faridabad site.  It aims to keep the usage to a minimum and use water as efficiently as possible.  To minimise its impact on the local ground water, Faridabad has installed a reverse osmosis plant (RO) which recycles its waste water back into its processes.  After a year of running the RO plant, the site had saved over 35 million litres of water.  As a result, both the availability and quality of the ground water has improved.  In 2016, the RO plant in Faridabad, has continued to increase the amount of water recycled which now stands at 47.5%, with 53 million litres being reprocesses.

Additionally, our plant in Shenzhen has also made some progress in their recycling capacity, which resulted in a 45% increase in the percentage of water used being recycled at the plant (in 2015 13.9% of the water used was being recycled compared to 59.2% in 2016).

Our Sri Lanka site also started recycling water used in their site during 2016. In their first year, they recycled just over 20% of their water used.

We are determined to continue using and conserving water in an efficient way.  We will keep looking for more ways to save water going forward.

At Coats, we are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint and at the same time lower costs.  Our manufacturing team in Turkey has managed to significantly reduce energy consumption by making changes in its working routines, alongside a number of adjustments to the spinning process.

The team made a number of modifications to the existing machinery to reduce power consumption (eg suction fans reduced from 50 Hz to 40 Hz) and to avoid compressed air leaks (jack adaptors added to the air-lines).  It also implemented regular deep clean exercises of all spinning machines to get rid of any fibres/debris that may be reducing the machine efficiency.  Alongside these activities, it also involved the workers in the programme and educated them on how they can contribute to energy savings at the site.

This ongoing programme of simple changes has reduced the site energy consumption (kWh per kg of dyed product) by 11% since 2013 as shown in the chart below.

Water scarcity is a pressing issue in several parts of the world where we operate.  It threatens ecosystems and communities, and it can be a material risk for businesses like ours that depend on water.

To help address the issue, Coats is working hard to reduce water consumption at our manufacturing sites.  Dyeing and finishing processes can be particularly water intensive.

In 2014, our site in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, reduced water consumption by 26% in just six months.  The site had been using 115 litres of water per kilo of thread produced (L/Kg), but through careful monitoring and smart investment, by the end of the year it was down to 85L/Kg.

The site invested in 17 water meters to track precisely where the water was being used.  This helped identify some serious leaks and over-usages, which were then rectified.  In six months the improvements saved the site US$35,000.

Coats Ho Chi Minh City is now aiming to reach a level of 70L/Kg by the end of 2015 and has several actions lined up to reach that goal ahead of schedule.  

Engineer working on water pipes

At Coats, we see energy efficiency at our factories as both a financial and an environmental opportunity. New technologies can help us reduce energy use and save money.

In 2012, our Coats Sevier plant in North America was using high wattage lighting, consuming a significant amount of electricity. Realising this, Joe Cordell and Jackie Thomas, two of the plant’s electricians, began replacing the 400 watt bulbs inside the plant with 132 watt T-8 fluorescent lights, and outside the factory, replacing the 250-400 watt bulbs with 54 watt T-8 fluorescent and LED fixtures. During the two year conversion period, nearly 4,000 high wattage bulbs were replaced with lower wattage equivalents.

These simple changes have successfully improved the energy efficiency of the plant. In 2014, the plant’s total energy consumption was 21% lower than in 2012. Meanwhile, energy costs fell by 18%, saving nearly $120,000 over the two year period, exceeding our target by almost 20%.

Last but certainly not least, safety has improved at the plant thanks to the better lighting.

Before…

The plant with old lighting

 

After...

Safety has improved at the plant thanks to the better lighting

At Coats, we are always looking for ways to improve efficiency at our manufacturing sites.  This helps us cut costs but also minimises the impact we have on the world around us.  As a significant energy user, this is one of the inputs we strive to reduce.  

In 2014, our spinning plant in Tianjin, north China, spent nearly US$150,000 to replace and upgrade 45 sets of ventilation fan blades.  The new blades (see picture 1) are a highly efficient, aero-dynamic design, made from a composite resin which is lighter than conventional metal blades (see picture 2).  They use 24% less energy than the original blades, saving the business 2,000,000kwh per year, which in monetary terms is around US$200,000 per year.  

This is an excellent example of how careful investment in new technology can achieve a double dividend – cost reduction and positive environmental stewardship.    

Picture 1: the new composite resin fan    

Energy China 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture 2: the original fan

Energy China 2

As a business, we depend on clean and reliable water supplies.  In several parts of the world where we operate the availability of water is under threat, and we are acutely aware that the textile industry is one of the largest consumers of water worldwide as fibre dyeing is a particularly water intensive process.  We therefore have a business imperative to use water as efficiently as possible.    

We are lucky to have employees who are constantly looking for ways to improve our manufacturing processes.  Since starting a water-saving project in 2011, Coats Colombia has made great progress, and in 2014 – thanks to the project – Coats Colombia met 42% of its water needs through a combination of rainwater harvesting and water recycling.  This is a 46% improvement on 2011.  

The team at Coats Colombia is determined to continue using water responsibly, and will be looking for more ways to save water going forward.

Rainwater 1

Rainwater 2

At Coats we are committed to running operations efficiently by reducing the resources we use. To achieve this our local site managers and teams draw on their knowledge and experience to find improvements in techniques, processes and systems which will help generate cost savings and reduce overall environmental impact.  

Coats Indonesia recently achieved this with two ‘Go Green’ manufacturing initiatives

Rain water harvesting - Thread dyeing typically requires a great deal of water which is often drawn from pipes or wells.  The team in Bogor saw an opportunity to do things differently by using rain water instead - rain is so frequent in Bogor that it has been nicknamed the “Rain City”.  To take full advantage of this natural water source, the site installed a system which harvests water from the factory roof and substitutes this for the well and pipe water previously used. With average rainfall levels the new system manages to collect over five million litres of rain water a year!

 Rain water collection in Indonesia

Image above: Gathering rain water from roof. Saving water.

Use of natural light - Another recent initiative that contributed to reduced resource use has been to take advantage of natural daylight. The factory roof in Bogor has been fitted with transparent material which allows natural light to flood into the factory and during daylight hours minimises the use of electric light bulbs. This has led to estimated savings of some 110,000kWh per year! 

Transparent roof at Coats Indonesia saves electricity

Image above: Natural light from transparent roof. Saving energy. 

At Coats, we are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint and at the same time lower costs.  Coats is an advocate of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle waste hierarchy – first we try to reduce the volume of materials in our products, what we can’t remove we try to reuse, and what we can’t reuse we try to recycle.

A high percentage of the 7-inch plastic cones we use for our textured thread (as well as some of the 4-inch cones) can be reused if they are recovered from our customers and properly cleaned and sorted.

For the last three years Coats Honduras has been running a cone recovery programme, symbolised by “Duty”, our friendly cartoon cone character.  The project involves recovering the plastic cones from our customers and reusing them in the production process.  

To start the project, Coats Honduras hired a waste contractor to collect as many used cones as possible – the contractor buys, cleans and packs the cones and finally delivers them back to Coats.

Since the project started in 2011, we have successfully reused 5.9 million cones, saving over 140 tonnes of plastic. The next stage of the project is to look to recover cones from El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, where products made by Coats Honduras are also sold.

Reusing cones in Honduras

Our production processes rely heavily on the use of water and energy.  We encourage our sites to improve efficiency where they can, to reduce resource use, save money, and help protect the environment.  

In Korea, waste water from the dyeing process, still hot from production, is stored so that the heat can be recovered and re-used.  A recent leak meant the system needed to be replaced and gave the team the opportunity to think about improvements that could be made.  

They decided to replace three water tanks, each with a five tonne capacity, with one that holds twenty-five tonnes.  This increased storage capacity by two-thirds.  The larger tank is also more efficient, allowing more heat to be retained as the water can now be kept 20ºC warmer.  The new system has generated a 28% reduction in fossil fuel costs at the plant, 6% savings in electricity, and nearly a quarter less in water costs.  

During the changeover…

Energy savings before

..and after the work was completed…

Energy savings after

Our group-wide commitment to the environment is continually being driven forward by our production teams, who innovate wherever possible to reduce the resources used to make our products. 

In China, successful zip engineering has meant our Opti S series is now made with less material - yet the superior strength and reliability which defines this range is maintained.  In addition to saving valuable resources in production, the zips have further potential to reduce the environmental impact after they leave our factory… 

…the sturdiness of Opti zips make them ideal for use by luggage makers whose bags and suitcases repeatedly end up as air cargo.  The saving of material and weight of a zip can have a knock-on effect.  The typical reduction per product is 28 grams.  So, every time the traveller takes a flight with his or her slightly lighter luggage, less fuel will be consumed and therefore fewer carbon emissions generated.  Although this may not sound like much, for the many flights over the life time of the bag, it can really add up!


Zip picture

At Coats we work to manufacture our products in the most efficient way possible.  This not only saves us time and money but helps us reduce our impact on the environment.  

In our production process we use water which is a scarce resource in many areas.  The team at our Faridabad factory in India recognises the importance of reduced water use to the local community.  In 2012 this drove them to make a number of improvements that achieved dramatic results – water use dropped by 40% and they eliminated wasted water in the factory’s production system. 

To accomplish this, they embraced “Zero basing” techniques (part of Lean Six sigma manufacturing philosophy) to look closely at their existing process.  To start, the team installed water meters to gain an accurate picture of how much water was actually being used.  This was then compared to the amount of water known to be needed in manufacturing.  They discovered that 12% of the water was unaccounted for in the existing process.  By closely examining the system the team was able to cut out all waste and make design changes that improved the entire structure.  The result of greater efficiency and lower water usage was reached without a large capital investment – just good factory management.

 

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