Waupaca Foundry, Inc. takes its sustainability initiatives seriously and it now has a national award to show for it.
A Hitachi Metals Group company, Waupaca Foundry recently received the American Foundry Society’s 2020 Green Foundry Sustainability Award in recognition of its outstanding leadership in integrating sustainable business practices throughout its manufacturing operations.
“We are excited to win an award in an area that we’re so focused on,” says Bryant Esch, director of environmental engineering at Waupaca Foundry. “Energy consumption has long been an important issue, and to be recognized by our own industry is great.”
Waupaca Foundry was the first U.S. metalcaster to receive the accredited ISO 50001 Energy Management System certification, an international standard confirming the gray and ductile iron casting supplier had created a system of continuous improvement in energy use, efficiency and consumption. Under this systemic approach, foundry leaders can gather and analyze data that identifies opportunities for additional energy reduction in plant operations.
“We are setting the pace in our industry by committing to continuous improvement in environmental sustainability by reducing our energy use,” said Waupaca Foundry President, COO and CEO Mike Nikolai. “Our efforts not only reduce our impact on the environment but make us a more competitive iron castings supplier in the global marketplace.”
By going through the ISO 50001 process, Waupaca Foundry achieved an overall reduction in energy consumption of more than 20 percent at all United States plants compared to 10 years ago, Esch says.
“In 2004, we started to get serious about different projects where we would look for ways to save energy, such as adding energy-efficient lighting or going with a high-efficiency motor versus a regular motor. In the long term, those changes will save us money,” he says. “We have to be strategic in how we invest in energy-saving operations.”
Another project that reduced energy consumption was the installation of a heat recovery system in the foundry, where the industry standard for casting temperature and personal exposure is 180 degrees Fahrenheit, Esch says.
“With the ISO 50001 process, there is less talk of implementation and going project by project and more of how can we implement ideas across the entire company?” he says.
Esch says when assessing energy-saving projects, Waupaca Foundry “looks at the ones that have most significant benefit and impact for the company.
“Saving money is exciting, but we environmental guys get excited about the kilowatts (of energy that) we are saving,” Esch says. “We saved enough energy to provide 2,600 residences with electricity.”
The American Foundry Society’s 2020 Green Foundry Sustainability Award is just the latest sustainability honor for Waupaca Foundry. In the past 15 months, the company received the 2020 Better Project award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants program for innovations at its Tell City, Ind., plant and the 2019 Business Friend of the Environment Award from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.
Headquartered in Waupaca, the company operates five iron foundries located in Waupaca, Marinette, Tell City, Ind., and Etowah, Tenn. Waupaca Foundry also operates machining and assembly facilities in Waupaca, Ironwood, Mich., and Effingham, Ill. The company employs approximately 4,500 people.