The industrial sector accounts for approximately half of global energy use and produces approximately 1.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.i,ii Manufacturers can help manage their energy consumption and waste production, as well as associated costs and environmental impacts, by improving the efficiency of their facilities as well as of the production process.
Ursa, the first KKR Special Situations investment to participate in the Green Solutions Platform (GSP), is a leading European building insulation provider headquartered in Madrid and with approximately €500 million revenue.
Ursa seeks to improve the energy efficiency in its production of glass mineral wool and extruded polystyrene. These materials are used to insulate residential and non-residential buildings in both new construction and renovation projects. The company also has a strong emphasis on increasing energy efficiency and reducing waste through recycling and other diversion efforts.
To improve efficiency, Ursa focused on three key areas during 2015: continuing to reduce density across the entire product portfolio, improving the fiberizing technology in the Saint Avold, France, plant, and reducing the generation of waste in the production process.
Reducing product density
Reducing product density improves energy efficiency while reducing transportation, logistics, and warehousing costs because the product offers the same insulation properties while using less space. The challenge is to make a more compact product while maintaining insulation performance and mechanical properties to meet customer requirements. Density reduction is achieved by decreasing the fiber diameter and improving distribution of the fibers to form the glass wool mat.
Because density reduction is one of the Ursa’s continuous improvement drivers, in 2015 the company standardized the fiberizing procedures across all of its plants. Ursa identified its “best in class plant” and implemented those best practices across its other glass mineral wool plants. The resulting density reduction generated energy savings of 8 percent in glass mineral wool production, compared to 2014.
Improving the fiberizing technology in Saint Avold, France
In addition to the glass melting, the fiberizing sub-process is the second largest user of energy within the glass mineral wool production process. For that reason, Ursa is currently focused in improving the energy efficiency in this area.
Ursa collaborated with technology suppliers on fiberizing developments that resulted in an 11 percent reduction in the fiberizing technology energy consumption in the Saint Avold plant, compared to 2014.
Reducing waste in the production process
Ursa also works to reduce waste generated at the production and logistical level in order to minimize production costs. In 2015, Ursa focused its efforts on reinforcing and improving the preventive maintenance in order to minimize the number of unplanned stops and thus the generation of waste. In 2015, Ursa reduced the level of unplanned stops by 25 percent compared to a 2013 baseline.
Apart from these initiatives, Ursa has a culture of continuous improvement. The company concentrates on optimizing two critical levers:
- Production planning to reduce wastes from the changeover process when alternating between different products.
- Reutilization of waste within the production process by developing alternative solutions, which leads to further cost savings.
Ursa’s efforts to increase efficiency have resulted in cost savings of approximately $4.8 million, or €3.7 million in 2015 against a 2013 baseline. Ursa maintained its performance, including waste reductions related to glass mineral wool production, despite a three-month closure of its second largest plant.
|Avoided Energy Costs Estimated Results (2013 Baseline)iv||2014||2015|
|Glass mineral wool production||$3.7 million||$4.4 million|
|Extruded polystyrene production||$100,000||$360,000|
|TOTAL:||$3.8 million||$4.8 million|
|Change in Productivity Performance (2013 Baseline)||2014||2015|
|Cubic meter/production volume||-8||-5|
|WASTE IN GLASS WOOL PRODUCTION|
|Recycled kg/production volume||25||23|
|Raw material kg/production volume||-2||-1|