Waupaca Foundry Inc., a Hitachi Metals group company based in Waupaca, Wisconsin, has won the 2020 Green Foundry Sustainability Award presented by the American Foundry Society (AFS), Schaumburg, Illinois, for integrating sustainable business practices throughout its manufacturing operations. The award was presented during the AFS virtual conference Oct. 5.
The company implemented the ISO 50001 Energy Management System, creating a formal management system approach to energy reduction. Foundry leaders gather and analyze data that identifies opportunities for additional energy reduction in plant operations. As compared to 2010, Waupaca reduced its energy consumption by more than 20 percent at all its U.S. plants.
Waupaca Foundry says it is the first U.S. metal caster to receive ISO 50001 Energy Management System certification. To gain the certification, the company says it created and implemented a program in energy management at its gray iron foundry Plant 1 in Waupaca and then reviewed and checked data to ensure consistent results. After 12 months of preparation and completing a verification audit by an independent registrar, the certification was granted in 2017, the company says.
Waupaca Foundry President, Chief Operating Officer and CEO Mike Nikolai says energy is one of the company’s greatest expenses, costing about $150 million in fiscal 2019 across all Waupaca Foundry locations.
“We are setting the pace in our industry by committing to continuous improvement in environmental sustainability by reducing our energy use,” Nikolai says. “Our efforts not only reduce our impact on the environment but make us a more competitive iron castings supplier in the global marketplace.”
Some of the more significant recent initiatives include:
- installing a blast air dehumidification system to reduce ambient humidity impact on cupola melting efficiency;
- expanding the waste heat recovery system to maximize natural gas savings during cold winters in the Wisconsin plants;
- converting to LED lighting throughout the plant’s manufacturing, office and employee areas;
- replacing outdated compressors with new, more-efficient models throughout the plant; and
- expanding and networking electric and natural gas metering to the newly installed energy management system, which allows for monitoring of real-time energy use at departmental levels and archiving of historic data to allow analysis and comparison to measure the effectiveness of projects and programs.
In 2015, Waupaca Foundry was admitted to Wisconsin’s Green Tier program, which recognizes businesses with a good environmental record, a willingness to exceed regulatory requirements and an environmental management system that facilitates superior environmental performance and continuous improvements.
Additionally, Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. awarded Waupaca Foundry its environmental stewardship award at its annual supplier conference in 2014. In 2010, Waupaca Foundry was one of the first 32 charter companies voluntarily cutting energy consumption through 2020 in the Better Plants program, a U.S. Department of Energy initiative designed to foster energy efficiency and long-term sustainability. Since the program’s baseline year of 2009 to 2015, Waupaca Foundry says it realized a cumulative energy intensity improvement of 16.3 percent.
A leading supplier of iron castings to the automotive, commercial vehicle, agriculture, construction and industrial markets, Waupaca Foundry produces gray iron castings, ductile iron castings, HNM series high-strength ductile iron and austempered ductile iron castings. The company operates seven iron foundries in Waupaca and Marinette, Wisconsin; Tell City, Indiana; and Etowah, Tennessee. The company operates machining and assembly plants in Waupaca and in Effingham, Illinois. Waupaca Foundry is a company of Tokyo-based Hitachi Metals Ltd. and employs approximately 4,500 people.