Sioen reduces residual PVC with increased awareness, data analysis and visualisations
Residual PVC reduction project
At our Sioen Direct Coating production sites, we coat technical textiles. We used to have 50-100 tonnes of residual PVC a year, which is a huge amount. We managed to reduce this amount of residual PVC to a bare minimum, thanks to increasing awareness, data analysis and visualisation. This achievement is a team victory. Additionally, the little residual PVC we have, is recycled and used as raw material in other production processes.
Former residual PVC
At our Sioen Direct Coating production sites, we put several layers of PVC coating on our technical textiles. The former problem was that we used to have large amounts of residual PVC throughout the process. On an annual basis, we produced about 50-100 tonnes of residual PVC. This obviously is a large amount that we wanted to reduce and preferably avoid.
You always have a small deviation on a production process and the aim is to keep this deviation as small as possible. If you manage to equally divide the PVC paste among the different parts of the process, not much PVC paste is wasted. If in one part of the process, too much PVC is initially used, this surplus ends up as waste and this means that not enough fabric with PVC coating will be produced with the provided tub of PVC.
Residual PVC reduction project
The residual PVC reduction project started in 2013. It was set up to visualise the data to make sure that the people on the job can take action themselves according to the parameters. Thanks to this development, they can act very quickly, and they manage to have the least waste possible.
A first measure to achieve the goal of reducing the residual PVC was creating awareness among our people. An image of 100 tonnes of paste says much more than a mere percentage. Second, we provided the right tools to make sure that our people can see for themselves what the results of their actions are. In fact, this is also to their advantage. The better everything is adjusted, the less waste they have to move from one part of the coating process to another.
The system will predict what the PVC consumption will be based on the operators’ input data. It is a very visual system that allows you to easily obtain an overview of a very complex process. We can say that it is a visual prediction tool that is used to take action. The visualisation is much clearer than the old paper-based system. In the past, the team leaders used to work with paper cards on which they wrote how many metres of coated fabric they managed to produce with one tub of paste. To get an overview of the different cards, they had to compare them, and now they get this overview in just one look at the screen.
No more waste
We avoid waste by reusing the residual PVC in alternative products. This means that Sioen identified value in a former waste product to reduce the waste stream. We use our residual PVC in the production of other products wherever possible. Our calandering plant, for example, uses residual PVC as a raw material for other products, such as pond liner.
All information on 1 screen
An operator will, for example, enter to the system that he or she has produced 750 metres of coated fabric with 1 tub of PVC. The system starts predicting the expected weight and length of the end result. It is a very complex process that can be reduced to blocks on a line. A team leader must be able to see at a glance what the situation is.
Teamwork- wages bonus
The whole team is involved in this process. The paste maker must create the right amount of paste, at the production line, every operator has his or her own job to make sure that the weight at the workstation is correct. If all those pieces of the puzzle fit together, we have little residual PVC. Everyone has to be involved.
Since the beginning of 2021, the percentage of residual PVC is part of the CAO90 wage bonus. The people get a bonus if we achieve a certain percentage of residual PVC. With this bonus, we aim to raise awareness and motivate our people on the job.
The residual PVC reduction project helps realising SDGs 9 and 12. The former states that we should “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation” and the latter that we should ensure “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”. We are working to meet targets 12.2 (“By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources”) and 12.5 (“By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse”).