Lean & Green Leaders

medium_2015_Laurel B.jpgThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

With astonishing speed, Ricoh has gone from new entrant to market leader in many areas of the graphics business. It saw a three-fold increase in printing systems turnover between 2003 and 2013, and is the first digital press company to achieve certification to ISO 12647-2, the reference standard for colour quality. The company has however not forgotten its green committments or the People Planet Profit triple bottom line for social equity, economic and environmental factors. Ricoh has a goal for 2050 that 50% of all raw materials used in its digital presses and associated materials will be based on recyclates. In the UK, where one of Ricoh’s three Customer Experience Centres is located and where the company has extensive manufacturing and testing facilities, a new green consultancy service is on offer.

It is still early days but the consultancy is based on environmental impact mitigation steps Ricoh UK started taking a few years ago. Today the site is a zero waste-to-landfill site where carbon dioxide emissions are significantly down. Infrastructure accounts for 67% of the plant’s energy usage so this was the focus for the €100,000 investment which was paid back within seven months. Ricoh UK has installed high frequency lighting and uses LEDs instead of sodium lightbulbs. This has cut the lighting energy bill by some €30,000. A gas fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system heats water and work spaces and is helping to saved €0.5 million and over 4000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Recycling parts in its printers instead new manufacture has realised massive savings in parts costs and in Ricoh’s raw material usage.

Much of Ricoh’s Lean & Green offering is based on its Carbon Balanced Printing programme, however there is more to it. A ten step approach reengineers business processes and logistics for greater efficiency. This might be placing production machines in a more logical sequence, or storing substrates so that they are both convenient for deliveries and for use. This may all sound obvious but it is surprising how many companies fail to organise equipment and supplies logically. For organisations facing expansion, managing your space more effectively can make it easier to remain in existing premises rather than having to rent a larger facility. Based on Ricoh’s experience, around 30% more space can be gained with revamped lay outs and improved diagnostics. Another consideration is gaining an accurate idea of the overall capacity of a production plant. It’s often the case that machines can handle more work than they are getting, because the press is dictating processes, rather than processes driving the press capacity. Good process management can make an enormous difference and increase production volumes.

– Laurel Brunner

The Verdigris project is an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. It provides a weekly commentary to help printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Epson, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

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