Step 1.6 Revealing sources and causes of inefficiency
How to analyse the root causes of significant material and energy losses and pollution generation.
As the last level of the TEST diagnosis, this step centres on selected priority flows and focus areas and helps to identify the most cost-efficient RECP interventions, as it may not be feasible or worthwhile to analyse every action in detail.
The priority flows within the identified focus areas are analysed in detail to disclose inefficiencies – the physical points where a production input becomes a loss (non-product output) – and understand the causes. These usually relate to several factors that drive material and energy use, including process input quality, specific process operating parameters e.g. temperature, throughput, speed, etc., features of the process technology, human behaviour, and product design. Several widely applied tools can be used for cause analysis, such as the fishbone (or Ishikawa) diagram, the 5 Ms; 5 Why’s, Six Sigma etc.
Depending on the complexity of the selected focus areas, detailed material and energy-mass balances can be required to model specific sub-processes, mapping all inputs (energy, water, auxiliaries, operating and packaging materials) and outputs of the focus area to understand all the causes of the losses.
Implementing this step of detailed analysis may require both expert appraisal and data analysis to understand what is actually happening within a specific part of the process. Data measurements are also useful for setting up the baseline and the Operational Performance Indicators (OPIs) at the level of specific processes, and these can be used for more accurate feasibility analysis of improvement options and/or for calculating real savings and performance improvements. It is recommended to install a permanent monitoring system for systematic monitoring of the resource efficiency performance of important sources of losses.
ACTION TABLE ►
- Flow charts and technology schemes (including Sankey charts) of identified focus areas
- MFCA excel tool (worksheets 1 and 2 filled in)
- Data from existing information systems like cost accounting, stock management, production planning and monitoring, etc.
- Supplier’s technical sheets, machine nominal parameters, company records on waste disposal, etc.
- Finalize material and energy balances for priority flows in the focus areas (if the sources and causes of losses are not evident)
- Conduct ad hoc measurments (if needed) to collect additional data for specific processes / units / machinery
- Process data on energy flows with the Energy Mapping tool
- Interpret results, identify sources and related causes of material and energy use inefficiencies
- Quantification of material and energy flows at the level of focus areas/unit operations
- Recommendations for improving the RECP information system for significant flows within priority areas
- List of causes of inefficiencies in material and energy use, bu source
- During this step there is often the tendency to replace detailed analysis and balances by expert judgement. This can be the right approach in some simple cases of standard technologies (where steps 1.5 and 1.6 can be conducted as a single step). However, especially in cases related to material and water flows, it is necessary to understand the real performance of a process and this often requires measuring specific flows and completing a mass balance of the focus areas.
- Analysis of flows is often viewed from different perspectives within a company. The engineers take a bottom-up approach, starting from specific processes using process flow diagrams and balances. Accountants have a top-down approach, using information from the accounting system, stock management and production planning systems in addition to profit and loss accounts. An efficient and effective data collection process depends on defining priorities and interfaces between different perspectives and information systems that may exist in a company in order to generate consistent information on a regular basis. This enables priority setting and good diagnoses of causes of inefficiencies for important sources of losses.
- Developing mass balances requires data on inputs and outputs that may be missing due to insufficient monitoring of material and energy flows. As a first step, data can be estimated or calculated as in the previous steps (estimating water consumption, for example, can be very simple using just a bucket and a stopwatch).
- Depending on data availability, mass balances can be created using data from a time period shorter than a year, such as a month, or a production shift. In this case, it is essential to verify that the annual data are consistent with the data for shorter periods.
- Discrepancies in collected data can lead to the recognition of hidden pollution flows and sources as shown in the case history in this chapter.
- Repeatedly asking “why” can be an effective technique for understanding the causes of pollution generation. Allocating sufficient time to reach a good understanding of these causes can prove worthwhile
MANAGEMENT SYSTEM INTEGRATION ►
EMS / EnMS NOT IN PLACE
Like in the previous step 1.5, this step provides an additional level of detailed information for setting up the Register of Significant Environmental Aspects and for identifying areas of significant energy consumption and uses. On the basis of this information, new RECP objectives and actions can be planned.
EMS / EnMS IN PLACE
The significant environmental and energy aspects can be reviewed, taking the newly identified areas of significant material and energy consumption into consideration. On the basis of this analysis, existing company objectives can be reviewed and RECP actions planned.
LINKS TO RELEVANT RESOURCES►