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Manufacture Business Practice, Small Molecules, Trends & Forecasts

A Fresh Pair of Eyes

As one of the steps towards this goal, GSK’s Engineering Centre of Excellence has developed and led Energy Reduction Events across all of its global sites. But why stop at sites within the company? GSK has now started to help suppliers identify opportunities to reduce energy use and embed changes in their sites geared towards a more sustainable future, using similar events at their own sites.

“At our own sites, we were typically finding anywhere between 20 and 30 percent energy reduction opportunities,” says Sophie McSweeney, Utilities Commodity Buyer at GSK. “At each site, we considered the different processes and operations, and then how we could reduce energy requirements; for example, by reducing the amount of times you need to turn the machines on.”

In particular, GSK found a lot of potential savings associated with heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), compressors and lighting. “We also looked at whether we could implement renewable energies, such as solar, wind or biomass, at sites. The whole process was about making operations as efficient as they could be and then looking at replacing the source, otherwise you are speccing something to a site that’s not optimally efficient.”

GSK offers a range of different Energy Reduction Events; the most comprehensive lasts for four and a half days. There is also an advance data gathering exercise to map existing energy processes.

Day 1 - Designing. Assessing the data and what initial opportunities there might be for energy reduction.
Day 2 - Measuring. Touring the site and seeing processes in action.
Day 3 - Assessing and identifying opportunities. Narrowing down the actionable energy-reduction opportunities.
Day 4 - Quantification and tracking. Developing a list of projects.
Day 5 - Feedback. Developing a brief and feeding back to senior stakeholders.

“It’s not an audit and it’s not GSK engineers telling suppliers what they should be doing,” says McSweeney. “We encourage collaborative working so that the site staff can utilize the expertise we bring and develop their own projects that suit their business. On the final day, it is not GSK who present the findings to senior stakeholders,  but the internal engineers and operational personnel.”

We encourage collaborative working so that the site staff can utilize the expertise we bring and develop their own projects that suit their business.

Suppliers can sometimes be sceptical at first. Will the audit actually deliver any real savings or benefits? Will the time and effort involved suck up valuable human resources? Typically, once the Kaizen events begin and the teams involved are presented with some eye-opening facts about inefficiencies, attitudes to the whole process quickly change. After all, finding out that half of your company’s energy bill is taken up by HVAC usage can be quite a shock. In this case, the Kaizen might help by suggesting opportunities to optimize building management systems. And discovering that your old chillers and freezers are far from efficient also prompts change – especially when capital investment on newer equipment can be recouped through reduced energy costs. The solid combination of environmental benefits and cost savings suggested by Kaizen sessions is usually sufficient to attract corporate interest – which helps drive the potential benefits highlighted by Kaizen sessions into practical steps much faster.

“A fresh pair of eyes,” says McSweeney, is the main benefit to suppliers. “Someone external can challenge why something has to be the way it is and then both sides can work collaboratively to come up with the solutions. In the end, this will drive value for both GSK and its suppliers.”

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About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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