Sony Technology (Thailand) (hereafter, ”STT”), where the α7 series is manufactured, has participated in the Eco Challenge Project since 2012. In this original Sony initiative, employees in the production areas look for wasted energy, take steps to rectify it, monitor the results, and expand their efforts throughout the company in cycles of continuous improvement. To achieve the ambitious energy reduction target of 20% at STT, everyone, everywhere participated in the initiative.
“The Eco Challenge Project only works when everyone is involved, with employee education being the key,” says project leader Yutthana Preechachan. “We began by raising their awareness of energy conservation.” This preparation proved to be effective, with a variety of measures implemented.
Throughout the α7 assembly lines, the greatest challenge was improving the overall efficiency of the air-conditioning system. During initial research, the employees realized that the ten Air Handling Units (AHUs) throughout in the area consumed a lot of energy, so as an improvement, they suggested replacing them with a single, highly efficient unit. Such a major overhaul would not be easy, however, as it might severely affect daily production operations on the whole floor. But as Aungkana Panyathep in production recalls, no one wanted to abandon their target.
“Again and again, members from each department met and investigated how to do it without affecting production. We made the most of what we had learned about saving energy, and we took advantage of teamwork between facilities and production departments. It was difficult, but we succeeded in introducing the new air-conditioning system without any disruptions to production.
They also implemented many smaller individual improvements. One example is decentralized control of departmental lighting, air conditioning, and production equipment (such as the clean booths indicated in the photos below) which used to be managed in an integrated system. Following a series of feedback meetings by the employees, the engineering team improved the control of equipment by installing individual switches so that they can manage power manually and use only as needed. This also improves energy saving awareness among employees. These activities helped us reduce CO2 emissions in α7 production by about 20%.”
Aungkana adds: “Our greatest achievement was raising employee awareness, which allows us to further improve our energy saving initiatives at STT.”