Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Going Green – Replacing materials

Identify and replace current components with eco-friendly alternatives
I am not putting myself up as a research laboratory chemist. Instead I want to talk about some of the challenges and opportunities of identifying alternative eco-friendly alternatives.
There are a number of challenges to replacing any raw material with any other raw material. I get that. The key is to reduce those challenges so the cost of change is not as significant.
When you identify that an alternative material exists which is more "Green" than a current material you must first identify all the formulas in which this material is used - a multi-level where used report is key at this stage.
Not only are you altering the formula receiving this new material but potentially every other formula that uses that formula as an intermediate. In other words if you have a multi-level formula structure you must also look at all the other formulas impacted by this change.
vicinity software

Fortunately formula manufacturing software applications handle this analysis fairly well. Specifically Vicinity from Vicinity Manufacturing addresses the challenge with remarkable ease.
Typically you will need to review the impact on the formulas from a physical properties perspective. Does this change impact the Viscosity or pH or Refractive Index?
Performing this analysis can be time consuming if the right tool is not utilized. Fortunately some of the more current formula manufacturing applications in the market – such as Vicinity - can assist with this review turning the task into a reasonably clerical matter.
Finally – once the impact is known for each of the formulas you will need to substitute the new material for the old material and potentially other supporting materials in the formula.
This task is tricky but is done by some of the better applications on the market. Take a look at the material substitution capability within Vicinity to see how this is addressed.
So what is the payoff?
Besides replacing a potentially harmful raw material with one that is more eco-friendly you are potentially reducing the overall cost of your formula. If nothing else you have built a model to replace raw materials based on price – not only because they are good for the environment.
So go ahead – take a look at a raw material that has a known substitute. How does your existing system assist you or hold you back? Know that today there are systems that can make this process much less painful than you may be experiencing. Hopefully this is one less barrier to "Going Green".
So this is the end of my "Green" message. I challenge us all to be more environmentally conscience in our manufacturing, reduce our carbon footprint and use materials that are easier on our planet.
And if you don't do it for our children's children then do it because often times you will become more profitable. In either case we all win.

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