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Special Report

Introducing noteworthy products and technologies developed through Sony Group environmental initiatives. Selected developer interviews also shed light on these promising innovations.

Eco Challenge in Malaysia
Winning the battle against energy wastage in production with 30% better efficiency

Sony Malaysia's production sites took on the ambitious goal of reducing energy use by about 1/3. Success came after resourceful team members tackled the challenge and came up with innovative solutions.

Tapping ingenuity and teamwork,
Sony Malaysia's sites reduced energy consumption by 30%

Penang Tec, Sony EMCS Malaysia

As the Sony Group's largest base of production, Sony EMCS Malaysia comprises the two sites of Penang Tec and Kuala Lumpur Tec. Penang Tec is a huge production facility that makes audio equipment and personal audio products such as headphones for markets around the world.

The first site in the Pan-Asia region to participate in the Eco Challenge was Penang Tec, Sony EMCS Malaysia, in August 2011. An ambitious goal of the employee-supported project is eliminating wasted energy to reduce consumption by nearly 1/3.
Tan Hooi Hong of Sony's Pan-Asia Regional Environmental Office puts the project in perspective. "Meeting our long-term target of a zero environmental footprint is a monumental task. To get all people involved, not just environmental representatives, we need to cultivate leadership and make energy efficiency a shared goal in the workplace."
The project is divided into three phases, and efforts that begin on the scale of relatively small divisions are later expanded throughout the site. In each phase, 7-8 member teams from each division proposed energy-saving ideas, implemented them, and checked the results. Penang Tec's first-phase efforts were spearheaded by divisions involved in quality assurance, circuit board mounting and speaker production.
Slashing division-wide energy consumption by 30% was the goal of the Eco Challenge team that Lem Seoh Kheng of the Quality Division was appointed to lead in August 2011. She had until December to make it happen. At first, Lem doubted it was possible. "I thought the most we could hope for was 10%,"she recalls, and despite many initiatives in the first month, they had limited success.

Ideas are collected on ways to save energy. Employees have submitted many suggestions.

But after about two months, the doubts of Lem and her Eco Challenge team members gave way to optimism when their initial efforts proved surprisingly effective. They were now convinced they could do it.
Initially, team members were unsure how to begin. Chong Kim Fat, Penang Tec Eco Challenge manager, recalls how they needed to make sure workers understood what a kilowatt-hour of energy really meant.
Chong began by making energy consumption more tangible. He set up measurement systems at circuit panels for air conditioners, lighting, temperature and humidity chambers and other equipment so that consumption details were visible to everyone. His goal: make people aware of how much energy they were consuming.
Although much data was being collected, Lem and her team were still pondering specific ways to save energy. Under pressure, Lem thought of putting out suggestion boxes to solicit energy-saving ideas across the division. Immediately, suggestions started pouring in.
Lem's team began by reducing the number of fluorescent tubes used. Careful brightness measurements throughout the division revealed that storage rooms and walkways were lit more brightly than office areas. By arranging the optimal brightness in each area, the team nearly halved the number of tubes, from 617 to 362. Working conditions were no less comfortable, of course. Encouraged by the results, Lem's team soon tried a series of other approaches, such as streamlining use of air conditioners and production equipment.

Penang Tec's Quality Division awards employees involved in effective energy-saving measures. Honoring them shares their good ideas and helps to inspire others.

Ultimately, they far surpassed the initial goal of reducing energy consumption from 30% to 38%.
Most significant was that now, everyone was more aware of saving energy. The true mission of the Eco Challenge had been accomplished.
As Chong says, "There's a difference between ignorance and inability. When one of us gets inspired and takes action, any improvements made will also benefit other divisions. Monetary investment may be a shortcut to success in some cases, but this won't encourage innovative solutions. The Eco Challenge is all about employee initiative and ingenuity."
The second phase saw five divisions trim energy consumption by nearly 30% in less than half a year, and Phase 3 is currently underway. The local can-do spirit (Boleh! in Malay) helps save energy in many Penang Tec divisions, with all employees playing a part in improving energy efficiency.

Three Eco Challenge members share their experiences in this report.
From left

Chong Kim Fat
Eco Challenge manager at Penang Tec

Lem Seoh Kheng
Eco Challenge leader, Penang Tec Quality Division

Tan Hooi Hong
Pan-Asia Regional Environmental Office and Eco Challenge supporter

Eco Challenge Phase 1 leaders
From left
Toh Chye Teik, Segaran Shattan and Choo Yoon Paw

Energy-Saving Solutions
by Penang Tec's Quality Division

Lighting Efficiency
  • Removing a single fluorescent tube in various locations did not affect working conditions.

  • Brightness was measured in all working areas.

measuring brightness

Measuring brightness levels throughout the division revealed that working areas were darker than walkways. By arranging the optimal brightness in each area, the team nearly halved the number of fluorescent tubes in use, from 617 to 362. Additionally, rooms were brightened by repainting black ceilings in white, among other measures. This has also improved working conditions. Lights are turned off when not in use, which has reduced energy consumption by nearly 48%.

Equipment Efficiency

Test equipment is now loaded to full capacity, to avoid wasting energy. When operators turn on the equipment, they also activate a timer that they carry with them.

Carefully managing energy
use by equipment

Previously, test equipment used to simulate vibration during shipping was not always operated at full load, which wasted energy. This testing is now scheduled within the division, enabling greater operating efficiency. Operators also carry timers to notify them when testing is finished, which avoids energy wastage. This and other steps to streamline operation have reduced energy consumption of equipment by about 29%.

Air Conditioner Efficiency
  • Ducts that did not reach into rooms were extended to draw in cool air.

  • For better efficiency, the ducts can be switched open or shut to adjust the temperature.

Improving airflow

Discussions with employees revealed that the temperature in some rooms was uneven. As such, ducts were repositioned and other steps were taken to improve circulation. Ducts were also extended from the central air conditioning to other rooms, so that individual air conditioners could be turned off until needed. These measures enabled the team to halve the number of air conditioners in use and reduce energy consumption by nearly 69%.

Other Ingenuity at Penang Tec

Energy-saving ingenuity in production lines
Unpowered, manual conveyor belts

Instead of relying on electric conveyor belts to transfer circuit boards for mounting, the Eco Challenge team introduced sloping, manual conveyor belts with rollers at both ends, harnessing the force of gravity. This system will be expanded to all 12 production lines, saving 8,432 kWh of electricity each year that would have been consumed by electric conveyor belts. The simple, do-it-yourself structure of this system also minimizes deployment costs.

  • Conventional electric conveyor belts

  • Sloping, manual conveyor belts

Initiatives at KL Tec

Kuala Lumpur Tec (KL Tec), which produces LCD TVs and other products, is also taking on the Eco Challenge. This site has slashed energy consumption between August and November 2011 (Phase 1) and between January and May 2012 (Phase 2) by about 33%, in each phase.

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