The auto sector's focus over the past 25 years has been on productivity; the next 25 years will likely hinge on energy use. This report looks at emerging trends and opportunities for reducing energy use and saving capital in automotive production
TORONTO—In 1988, when the phrase “lean manufacturing” first appeared in a relatively obscure business journal, few could have predicted two simple words would revolutionize the auto industry.
Nevertheless, little more than 10 years later, lean had become dogma in plants across North America. To cut costs and stay competitive, the North American auto plant reinvented itself.
Today, Ontario’s automotive sector faces a much different set of challenges. With mounting pressure to contribute to increased cost competitiveness and an urgent need to adjust to legislative changes that will put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, the industry is again undergoing major changes.
On this point, a group of automotive energy managers from some of Ontario’s largest original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers met in a Toronto boardroom to discuss how the province’s automotive sector is rethinking energy management and overhauling its approach to conservation.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the topics tackled by our expert roundtable and report:
The Low-hanging fruit being targeted by industry leaders
Lighting, compressed air systems, drives and chillers are atop the list of first targets for auto executives keen on cutting energy use.
Helping leadership make conservation a priority
Learning how to speak to management helps overcome this hurdlle, said Ray Warner, energy manager at General Motors. “Your energy projects are always about selling it to somebody,” he said. “You’ve got to learn to speak the speak.” Indeed, focusing on the conservation aspects of the project—something executives may place less value on—is one of the least effective ways to pitch ideas to senior management. Read the report to learn more successful tactics.
Converting the shop floor to the cause
After getting the go-ahead from management, it’s critical to engage employees. Though the culture of energy efficiency has made tremendous strides in the boardroom over the past 15 years, this shift is just getting underway for the rank-and-file. From long-time staff who have grown accustomed to doing a job a specific way, to workers who have difficulty identifying what’s in it for them, energy managers sometimes face an uphill battle.