Kappler, a protective garment manufacturer, produces suits that shield against hazardous materials and chemicals through superior construction and patented fabrics. Kappler, located in Guntersville, AL, employs 150 people.
Kappler desired to improve their bottom line through the reduction of their facility’s energy intensity and environmental impact, as well as maximizing their economic impact. Kappler sought out help from the Alabama E3 (Economy, Energy, Environment ) initiative to help improve sustainability through the gained knowledge of Lean, energy saving best practices, and waste reduction.
Kappler’s Guntersville location received assistance from the Alabama Technology Network (ATN) of the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) for this effort from June –September 2011. This included consultation about how to reduce their facility’s waste, lower their environmental impact, and maximize their facility’s resources and capabilities. Assistance from ATN-UAH received in FY2011 was part of the Alabama E3 initiative.
ATN-UAH began by identifying areas and processes in the facility that could be improved to reduce waste, lower environmental effects, and better utilize resources and capabilities. It was determined through the assessment that energy saving practices could be applied to the HVAC system used by the Kappler facility. The assessment also revealed at the strategic level that Lean processes, specifically value stream mapping, could be implemented. ATN-UAH conducted work force development training along with the initial assessment.
A variety of energy saving tools (Ultrasonic Leak Detector, Thermal Imaging Camera, and Light Meter) were used to determine if the facility had any problems such as air leaks and lighting or heating issues.
The ATN-UAH team identified several ways in which Kappler would be able to improve their bottom line through energy saving practices and strategic level improvements.
It was determined that Lean training as well as Lean implementation events would provide Kappler with significant improvements in the company’s day to day management and strategic planning. This continuous improvement training would help Kappler to cut down on any waste of time or resources on the strategic level. The value stream mapping assessment also yielded improvement opportunities in the sub-assembly flow which ultimately yielded energy saving results:
- Eliminate sub-assembly part travel back and forth from main plant supply towarehouse and back by over 1,000 feet
- Reduced work-in-process inventory
- Eliminated double handling of parts
- Reduced total lead time for sub-assemblies
In the energy saving practices assessment, it was determined that there were opportunities for improvement in the electricity usage of the facility. The ATN-UAH team recommended several lighting upgrade options and presented several scenarios utilizing different lighting options. Other energy saving opportunities identified included the HVAC system. The Alabama Industrial Assessment Center was contacted for a more in-depth assessment of the HVAC system.
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