Supported by Sustainability Victoria, Pemara Labels undertook a resource assessment followed by process and equipment upgrades which have resulted in a reduction in materials use, improved quality and significant cost savings. One implemented action resulted in annual savings of nearly $70,000 for an investment of just $3,500.
Pemara designs, manufactures, prints and distributes labels and packaging for consumer goods, promotional, pharmaceutical, chemical and industrial markets across Australia and South East Asia.
State-of-the-art technology and production methods have positioned Pemara at the leading edge of the label printing industry and Pemara's self-adhesive, in-mould labels, lids and cartons are found on some of the world’s biggest brands.
One of the first in the label industry to gain ISO14001 environmental accreditation, Pemara's commitment to excellence and a culture of continual improvement is integral to its approach to business and to minimising the company's environmental impact.
With raw material usage accounting for about 50% of the cost of the finished product, Pemara was looking for ways to reduce the waste that comes from all of its processes.
'We looked at the Sustainability Victoria program to add to the activity we were already undertaking in relation to resource usage,' said Pemara General Manager, Damien Prunty.
'Specifically we were looking to reduce set-up and run material used during the print process – the cost of the papers, the boards, the inks and the varnishes used. Because they contribute such a large proportion of the cost of the end product, any saving we can make on these will have a sizeable impact,' said Damien.
In 2013 Pemara received $15,000 from Sustainability Victoria toward the cost of a materials efficiency assessment of its operations. The assessment was conducted over three months and mapped out Pemara's material flows. It provided detailed information on exactly how much raw material (mainly polypropylene, polyethylene and inks) was being used, how much and where material was being wasted, and opportunities for efficiency improvements.
'The assessment measured inputs as percentages of outputs, and calculated the value of the inputs in terms of the originating costs and the disposal costs. That was different to the way we used to do it, meaning we didn't always capture all of the input cost if we measure only in metres,' Damien said.
'The assessment measured everything by weight. It's a different methodology for measuring output. We do it job by job but the assessment looked at the entire business. It considered which resources have the biggest impact and measured the business holistically. This showed us where the low hanging fruit was in terms of what will have the biggest impact on materials efficiency in the shortest space of time,' Damien said.
Following the assessment, Pemara focused on the 'low hanging fruit' and improving the workplace culture to increase materials efficiency and reduce waste.
In 2014 Pemara successfully applied for $50,000 capital funding from Sustainability Victoria to purchase a 'turn key', purpose built, one-pass pharma rewinder from a specialist European print industry vendor to replace their existing three pass rewinder.
Previously, the process of printing of pharmaceutical labels took three passes on re-wind equipment to complete all required checking and numbering tasks. The new machine allows one pass to complete all tasks and is expected to save Pemara more than $87,000 per annum through reduced materials use, increased productivity and reduced waste disposal costs, while also improving quality output and improving the label inspection and verification process.
'Our involvement in Sustainability Victoria's resource efficiency program has given us the understandings and shown the way forward to even greater efficiency gains,' said Damien.
The assessment determined the purchase to disposal (PD) ratio (i.e. comparison of the actual purchase price for wasted materials to the disposal cost) of Pemara's two key materials, ink and polypropylene plastic. For ink the ratio of purchase price to disposal cost was calculated at 70:1 and for polypropylene 55:1. This means for ink, the cost to the business of wasted ink is 70 times more than the disposal cost.
Pemara received a $3,000 implementation grant from Sustainability Victoria to purchase a new cutting die and implement a process change to enable two labels to be printed side-by-side on label material resulting in an expected annual saving of 20,000 metres of polypropylene. Pemara has also found new recycling streams for some of its waste products, including selling die-cut waste to a local recycler, helping Pemara to further reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and save on disposal costs.
'Over the past 18 months the new die and process changes have saved [Pemara] nearly $70,000, that is $26,000 in polypropylene, polyethylene and paper; $3,000 in ink and varnish; and $40,000 reduction in waste to landfill (polypropylene and cardboard) and these will be ongoing savings,' Damien said.
The new pharma rewinder machine is on track to reduce waste to landfill by 5 tonnes or 60% and save Pemara $87,000 per year through productivity gains, reduced materials use due to less process wastage, and reduced waste disposal costs.
We now have a thorough understanding of our materials use and intensity, where waste occurs and the way we assess, measure and handle waste. This will keep us focussed on resource minimisation into the future.
Damien Prunty – General Manager
In late 2014 Pemara moved its operations to a new site, providing about 25% more space. This permitted the business to align its operations linearly, meaning all their operations from input of materials, through to printing processes, and on to packing and dispatch, are in line leading to an optimisation of operations and further improvement in efficiency.
In a further demonstration of Pamara's commitment to efficiency, 454 LED light fittings have been installed at the new premises resulting in significant energy savings, greater illumination of tasks and an improvement in employee safety.
'Pemara is settling into the new, much larger building which is helping us to optimise our operations so we can increase our materials and energy efficiency even further in the future. We are now looking at ways to better manage our unavoidable waste,' Damien said.
Resource assessment conducted by Manufacturing Best Practice Program.