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In this session, general managers in charge of environmental matters and energy-saving reported on actual Panasonic efforts to reduce CO2 emissions as a Green Innovation Company.
Kazuo Tatsukami, General Manager, Environmental Promotion Group, Corporate Environmental Affairs Division, Panasonic Corporation
Hiroyuki Naka, General Manager, Energy-Saving Solution Development Group, Corporate Manufacturing Innovation Division, Panasonic Corporation October 8, 2010
Tatsukami: Today we'll present a number of Panasonic activities for reducing CO2 emissions. Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic, believed that the people, objects, money and land that are required by the company are all borrowed from society, and this means that the company is a public institution that belongs to society. As such, conserving the environment in order to contribute to society is a matter of course for Panasonic.
On October 5, 2007, Panasonic announced its 'eco ideas' Declaration, with the goal of reducing the total amount of CO2 emissions while expanding production. As a result, a revision of production activities began with the specific target of reducing 300,000 tons of CO2 emissions in three years from about 300 worldwide business sites within the Panasonic Group, starting in 2007. First, instruments that measured the amount of CO2 emissions were installed in each facility, to make the reduction amount visible. Second, a panel of experts from Panasonic conducted an energy-saving diagnosis. Third, production processes were innovated. And fourth, successful examples of CO2 emission reduction were applied to other business sites. As a result, we were able to reduce a total of 840,000 tons of CO2 emissions, which significantly exceeded the original target.
In order to become the No. 1 Green Innovation Company in the Electronics Industry, Panasonic is conducting all of its business activities in an environmentally conscious way. Simply put, there are no exceptions. An excellent example is the Green Energy Park, SANYO Electric's new production base that will open on October 22, 2010, in Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture. This ecologically advanced factory uses clean energy by creating energy with solar cells and storing energy with storage batteries. Another example is Panasonic's Energy Company, where the latest energy-saving production technologies were introduced at the Suminoe Plant in Osaka. Now Naka from the Corporate Manufacturing Innovation Division will be explaining specific details about Panasonic activities.
Naka: Next, I'd like to talk about the latest status of our CO2 reduction activities. I'd like to begin by saying that our management indices are linked with environmental indices. For example, if we can lower the cost of raw materials by reducing the amount used, we can also simultaneously reduce the amount of energy consumed. If we can replace people with robots, there's no longer any need for air conditioning or lighting, which results in further energy-savings. By improving the production yield and creating things without waste, we're able to save more energy while boosting productivity.
Now, I'd like to explain our activities in some detail. Meters and gauges have been installed to show how much energy is used in our factories. This is to enable a thorough awareness of the amount of power that is used. We call this the METAGEJI initiative. Obviously, introducing the METAGEJI initiative is costly, but the investment costs can be quickly recovered by eliminating wasteful energy use and improving product quality. In the area of inventory control, a new method of theoretically calculating required inventory levels has eliminated waste both in terms of CO2 emission amounts and costs.
Next, let's look at some activities that save energy throughout the entire factory. Of course, there's no way that we can stop a whole factory to run energy-saving tests. So, we've developed some highly accurate simulations that let us see how we should change things. For example, we simulated various air conditioner operations on a display. In the past, air conditioners were installed at both ends of a room, so during the summer the areas close to the walls were almost cold but the center of the room was warm. By placing the discharge outlets of the air conditioners directly above the employees, we found that we could reduce the amount of energy used to about 1/5, while increasing the level of comfort throughout the room and making it much more comfortable for our employees.
By going back to the stage prior to production in order to thoroughly study raw materials, such as plastics and metals, to ensure that there is no waste involved, we have also greatly reduced any loss in quality. We refer to this kind of review, which extends all the way to the panels and powders ("ita" and "kona" in Japanese) that make up the materials for all products, as an ITAKONA initiative. Let me give you an example. When heat is applied to certain metals, the crystals inside the metal begin to grow. They grow faster as the temperature rises. However, when we recorded this process with a camera and checked it on a display, we learned that the crystals grow rapidly at 400°C, but when the temperature is increased to 800°C, they stop growing within a few hours. As a result, we learned that we could significantly shorten the temperature holding time compared to that used in the past when the temperature was held at 800°C for dozens of hours. This saved considerable energy.
The power equipment used at factories, such as compressors, boilers and pumps, normally operates non-stop. However, by stopping it when the factory is not operating, and by installing a special control system during operation, we made it possible to save energy throughout the entire factory.
In order to become a Green Innovation Company with a global perspective, we aim to reduce CO2 emissions from a variety of angles and operate our factories with minimal energy. We'll also use the achievements that we gain in one factory to provide knowhow to other surrounding factories, so that groups of Panasonic factories can save energy for the entire area in which they operate. We also hope to expand this energy-saving circle by contributing to local communities with tree-planting and other green activities. By continuously conducting activities that contribute to society, we hope to teach our people to contribute to local communities with a high sense of environmental awareness.