Societies across the world have learned many things over the past few months in which the world has experienced an unprecedented calamity. One of the more positive things that have been noticed is the power of human impact on the environment. In just a few months of global lock-downs, pollution levels fell exponentially all across the world. This truly shows how much of a difference we can all make if we collectively work towards one goal: A greener tomorrow.
LAUGFS Corporation (Rubber) makes it a point every day to take extra steps to minimize its impact on the environment. We believe it is our responsibility as an organization to do the right thing not just for Sri Lanka, but for the world as a whole. In its dedication to this philosophy, the LAUGFS Corporation (Rubber) Factory in Miriswaththa has established a wide variety of processes to reduce, reuse and recycle wastage throughout its manufacturing operations.
Tire flash, in its many forms, is the factory’s primary waste output. Over the course of the manufacturing process, LAUGFS tires go through rigorous quality checks and trimming procedures, which often produce wastage.
If left unchecked, tire flash can build up very quickly and in large quantities throughout mass-scale production. However, this is exactly what makes it ideal for the factory’s recycling processes.
In order to ensure wastage is minimized as much as possible, the factory utilizes its uncured tire flash in the process of manufacturing other molded products such as riser rings and components for LAUGFS industrial tires. This helps the factory optimize its manufacturing costs while simultaneously reducing wastage.
Usage of Recycled products in compounds
Consumption of recycled materials from tires is a vital factor in solid tire manufacturing to optimize cost without affecting product quality. It allows for easier processing during manufacturing and as a result, also assists in saving energy. In fact, the number of recycled materials used in the process could increase as much as 25% in certain recipes, which leads to cost and quality optimization. The various types of recycled materials used in the process include de-vulcanized rubber, reclaimed rubber, fiber reinforced rubber compounds, and tire crumb rubber powder.
Carbon Black Recycling
The dust collecting system within the factory’s main mixing chamber stores a large quantity of carbon dust, containing a mixture of all carbon grades. This carbon dust is collected and then reused as filler for the main tread compound of tires and if there is any remaining dust at the end of the process, each carbon grade is then blended with the carbon compounds. Similarly, cured and uncured tire flash and any tire scrap generated in the process are utilized for making Crumb Rubber, which is then re-used as raw material during tire production. This helps to cut down on costs and manufacturing time. It also means none of the dust is disposed of, which is a significant benefit to the environment as carbon can be very difficult to break down and recycle.
Efficient Systems in Energy Optimization
In addition to enhancing the sustainable capabilities of the manufacturing process, the factory is also equipped with a variety of mechanisms that allow it to reduce the wastage of resources used in its day to day operations.
The first of these is its Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), which has been commissioned to treat the wastewater used by the factory. The treated water is then reused in gardening within the general area surrounding the factory, helping to sustain the plant life.
With the global demand for water consistently increasing every year, LAUGFS Corporation (Rubber) understands the importance of minimizing water wastage. The factory has also installed a rainwater harvesting system to make use of heavy rainfall in the area, which is particularly effective during the monsoon season.
Combined with the ETP, the rainwater harvester ensures that water wastage is minimized as much as possible, while simultaneously optimizing the quantity of water drawn by the factory for its daily operations and ensuring that clean water goes back into nature.
In addition to these systems, the factory has also been outfitted with a series of machinery and engineering modifications to optimize energy usage. The first of these systems are motion sensors linked to the lighting and ventilation systems, which allows the systems to operate only in the active presence of employees. Skylights have also been installed to reduce the consumption of energy for lighting during day time. The critical machines that were installed recently were ordered with a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) system which helps to improve the machine’s energy usage efficiency. Additionally, a rotary-type sandblasting machine was installed to reduce the usage of compressed air. Further to this, the rams of the factory’s kneader machines were converted from compressed air operations to a hydraulic system to reduce the usage of compressed air. The fans and pumps of the factory’s cooling towers were also modified to activate by sensing the water temperature.
Operational control criteria are set for all significant energy users to reduce energy consumption and to reduce kilovolt-amp (kVA) demand from the national grid. To supplement this, three capacitor banks are installed with a capacity of 440kVA each, and efficiency is maintained at 0.99 continuously.
These activities obviously help to reduce operational costs in terms of electricity and helps minimize the factory’s energy wastage.
Generation of Solar Energy
The factory also maintains a network of solar panels, taking full advantage of Sri Lanka’s sunny climate for clean energy generation and storage. In addition to using this energy as a part of the factory’s own operations, excess energy generated is then supplied to the national grid.
A Green March
Further to these steps, the factory personnel consistently collect waste paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and any waste equipment such as printer cartridges and ensure that these materials are recycled and reused where possible or are safely disposed of in collaboration with environmental authorities.
LAUGFS Corporation (Rubber), is deeply committed to maintaining and expanding its sustainable practices. We boldly accept our responsibility to do our part in preserving our world for generations to come, which is why our organization consistently looks into new methods and systems which can be utilized to minimize the factory’s environmental impact while giving back to the community around it.