The Impact of Green Maintenance Practices on Business Sustainability
The menace of carbon emissions continues to loom large even after protocols and agreements being made at the global scale. In 2022, global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 0.9% to over 36.8 Gt. A staggering 120 countries and 1000 companies have committed to achieving “net-zero” carbon emissions by 2050, reflecting a collective commitment to mitigating the impact on the environment. The need for sustainable maintenance practices has arisen from this global context characterized by resource depletion, climate change, and ecological imbalance.
Enterprises are at the forefront of this movement and keen about implementing comprehensive strategies to monitor and reduce their carbon footprint. The correlation between industrial activities, particularly in energy generation and distribution, and carbon emissions is undeniable. The business world has found in maintenance an opportunity to meet their individual as well as global sustainability goals.
The impact of sustainable maintenance extends beyond environmental considerations; it directly influences an enterprise’s bottom line. Effective maintenance strategies can lead to a significant reduction in costs, with up to a 40% decrease in maintenance costs and a 10% reduction in energy consumption.
In this intersection of carbon emissions, preventive maintenance, and corporate commitment to sustainability, it becomes important to gauge the impact of green maintenance. Apart from embracing eco-friendly practices, this maintenance strategy encourages use of improved technology. How does this benefit the business in the long-run? Explore.
What is Green Maintenance?
Green maintenance refers to a set of practices aimed at reducing the environmental impact due to equipment maintenance operations. It aims to replace maintenance with sustainable maintenance, where the longevity of the equipment is improved, and performance enhances as a result. In this endeavor, maintenance professionals implement eco-friendly practices and adopt sustainable strategies throughout the equipment lifecycle. Green maintenance seeks to promote a greener future where a positive impact is made on overall business.
What are the Principles of Green Maintenance?
The notion of green maintenance rests on the following principles which maintenance professionals should also look at as best practices.
- Strive for energy efficiency
- Reduce Waste
- Promote Sustainable materials
- Prioritize renewable energy use
- Reduce carbon footprint
- Focus on life cycle thinking
- Implement green procurement
- Implement green cleaning practices
- Responsibly handle and dispose hazardous materials
How does Green Maintenance make your business sustainable?
Enterprises can make their businesses more sustainable in terms of commitment to reduce their carbon footprint and improve profit margins by adopting green practices which help:
Strike Financial Opportunities
Green maintenance practices offer significant financial advantages to businesses, creating a win-win situation by promoting environmental sustainability and improving cost-effectiveness.
Firstly, by reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), green maintenance contributes to substantial cost savings for organizations. Eco-friendly maintenance strategies are concentrated around efforts to remove resource consuming processes from operations, and promoting resource-efficient practices where the focus is on using limited resources wisely. Ultimately, these steps lower overall costs.
Investing in energy-efficient equipment is another key step with direct financial benefits. Such equipment is designed to function on optimal energy. Cumulatively, the impact of adoption of such equipment on energy costs is significant. Extending the equipment’s lifespan, these adoptions affect equipment lifecycle management, and defer the need for expensive replacements.
Amidst these promises, access to green financing is an emerging financial opportunity. As businesses adopt eco-friendly maintenance approaches, they become eligible for specialized funding options that support environmentally conscious initiatives.
Make Environmental Impact
Across industries, carbon emission is a key concern. Electricity and heat production contributed around 23% of global GHG emissions in 2022. In 2021, transportation contributed to 16.5% of total GHG emissions in the US.
In each industry, maintenance activities have their share in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions directly from the trucks, equipment, facilities, and materials used to keep the system in a state of good repair.
There should be a focus towards harnessing energy from sustainable sources like solar or wind power to power machinery. Moreover, adopt energy-efficient maintenance strategies, such as optimizing maintenance schedules and using energy-efficient technologies that minimize energy consumption.
Minimizing energy consumption during upkeep creates a long-term impact. For example, replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives like compact fluorescent lights reduces electricity usage significantly. Likewise, using motion sensors in shared spaces not only conserves energy but also enhances safety.
Additionally, the adoption of eco-friendly lubricants, fluids, and cleaning products in maintenance activities contribute to lowering the carbon footprint. These include:
|Industrial machinery, automotive engines
|Chains, gears, and other moving parts
|Cutting fluids, metalworking applications
|Biodegradable Hydraulic Fluids
|Hydraulic systems, agriculture equipment
|Engine cooling systems, machining operations
|Hydraulic systems in various applications
|Green All-Purpose Cleaners
|General-purpose cleaning in households and offices
|Degreasing, stain removal, surface cleaning
|Window cleaning, disinfecting, deodorizing
|Stain and odor removal, carpet cleaning, bio-waste bins
Embracing a circular economy model in maintenance operations promotes the reuse of resources. Instead of discarding used equipment or materials, businesses can explore options for refurbishment, repair, or repurposing. You can go for designing products and systems that can be easily disassembled and components reused.
Optimize Design and Planning
Green maintenance practices focus on designing products and systems with ease of maintenance in mind, reducing the need for frequent repairs and replacements. Companies like Toyota have implemented design principles that emphasize modularity and ease of repair.
Modular robotic arms designed with interchangeable components, allowing quick and targeted replacements during maintenance. Procedural optimization is coupled with environmental benefits – the overall span of equipment extends and targeted replacements reduce energy consumption.
Implementing predictive maintenance using sensors and monitoring systems help detect potential issues before they become major problems. Similarly, implementation of remote monitoring capabilities to diagnose issues without physical access also falls within the scope of the green concept of maintenance.
In sustainable maintenance designing, you have to also establish commonality in components across systems or equipment. For instance, in manufacturing, standardization of production line components make available the common set of elements for streamlined maintenance. While in oil and gas, standardized valve components across multiple extraction sites bring consistency.
Promote Employee Well-being and Engagement
In many industrial settings, maintenance professionals are exposed to hazardous conditions that pose significant health risks. Traditional maintenance often involves the use of toxic substances, increasing the likelihood of respiratory issues and skin problems among workers. However, as we mentioned earlier, adopting green maintenance practices can mitigate these risks by replacing harmful chemicals with environmentally friendly and non-toxic alternatives.
A common hazard in maintenance processes, particularly in manufacturing sectors, is noise pollution. The constant hum and clatter of machinery during maintenance activities can lead to hearing damage and stress among workers. Green maintenance practices emphasize the use of quieter and energy-efficient machinery, coupled with effective noise control measures. By minimizing noise pollution, you can create a more conducive and comfortable work atmosphere.
In fields where workers engage in repetitive tasks, ergonomic strain is a prevalent concern. Use of traditional maintenance approaches can potentially lead to musculoskeletal problems amongst the maintenance staff. If you invest in ergonomic tools and promote proper work techniques, it will reduce the physical strain.
Beyond the direct health benefits, green maintenance practices contribute to improved indoor air quality. The use of low-emission paints and cleaning agents create a healthier indoor environment, preventing respiratory problems and allergies among maintenance professionals.
Build a Sustainable Supply Chain
We have already seen what green maintenance offers, but the impact it makes on the entire supply chain deserves special mention. If we consider the manufacturing industry, maintenance encompasses from maintenance across inbound logistics, plant maintenance, to maintenance in outbound logistics.
While we have discussed promoting use of eco-friendly products in upstream stages such as raw material extraction and processing, the expanse of green maintenance is vast. Like how it can benefit these stages, it can bring improvement in allied processes like procurement.
Green procurement involves the conscientious selection of products and materials that align with environmental and social responsibility. The procurement of eco-friendly maintenance supplies encompasses selecting products that have minimal environmental impact throughout their lifecycle. Also, procurement is a paper-intensive process where you have to create several requests for quotation (RFQs) and requests for proposal (RFPs) on a daily basis. However, using a computer-based process, you can straightaway eliminate the need for processing these requests in paper form and streamline the approval process, thereby massively reducing time for procurement of supplies.
A sustainable procurement practice also extends to the sourcing of supplies from suppliers and manufacturers committed to sustainable practices. You evaluate the sustainability credentials of suppliers, verify if they follow ethical labor practices and use environmentally responsible production methods, before buying their supplies.
Build a compliant ecosystem
Following sustainable maintenance is a primary step to meeting compliances and environmental regulations, may it be any industry. If we talk about the United States (US), maintenance professionals need to consider the following regulatory compliances.
|Aspect of Sustainability
|Hazardous Waste Management
|Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
|Hazardous Waste Regulations (40 CFR Part 260-279)
|Universal Waste Rule (40 CFR Part 273)
|Air Quality Management
|Clean Air Act (CAA)
|National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP)
|Water Quality Management
|Clean Water Act (CWA)
|Stormwater Management (if applicable)
|Energy Policy Act (EPAct)
|ENERGY STAR Program
|Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
|Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards
|Executive Order 13834 – Efficient Federal Operations
|Sustainability in Procurement (agency-specific)
With green practices, you don’t have to set up any special process to align with these practices. Rather you automatically start following these norms. You might bring green maintenance practices, but it is certified only when the concerned authorities stamp their approval for your implementation.
Embracing an eco-friendly approach and implementing sustainable practices in maintenance is a win-win for both the environment and the business. While it improves your ability to carry out maintenance tasks, at the same time, it regulates the impact of maintenance on the environment.
Sustainable maintenance must be looked at from a broader perspective, including activities linked to maintenance and take the adoption process as a long-term assignment. Some results will be quickly visible and some will generate nice outcomes in the long-run. Instead of implementing everything at a time, adopt a practice at a time, observe how it is creating the difference and then move on to implementing another sustainable practice.
At the end of the day, sustainability in maintenance brings tremendous returns. The better you are prepared to implement sustainable maintenance strategies and permeate them in your operations, the better will be outcomes.
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