GM Ft. Wayne plant earns zero-landfill designation

Plant earns $2 million in recycling revenue last year

12/15/2011


General Motors' Fort Wayne Assembly Plant, where Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks are built, is the automaker's first U.S. assembly plant to reuse, recycle or convert to energy all the waste created in its daily operations.

Fort Wayne recently received zero-landfill designation, joining 78 other GM landfill-free manufacturing facilities around the world.

"Assembly plants are challenged with a large amount of waste streams and byproducts, from varying types of plastics and metals to expendable packaging and containers," said John Bradburn, GM manager of waste-reduction efforts. "Fort Wayne has succeeded in finding sustainable options for these materials while working with other GM plants and suppliers to improve its impact from an overall systems perspective."

Nine GM operations that supply Fort Wayne with stampings, engines, transmissions and components are also landfill-free.

"We look at our waste-reduction efforts from a larger perspective...it's not just about Fort Wayne, it's about greening the overall footprint, including the supply base," said Bradburn.

A key to Fort Wayne's landfill-free designation was a process and material change in its paint shop enabling the recycling of processed wastewater treatment sludge that formerly was sent to landfills because of regulatory requirements.

The plant also participates in "closed loop" recycling, repurposing its manufacturing byproducts into new car parts.

Absorbent pads used to soak up oil and water from the plant floor are cleaned and reused up to three times. Afterward, GM will begin to recycle the material into Silverado and Sierra air deflectors, which also contain some of the plant's recycled packaging plastic.

Cardboard packaging from the plant is recycled into Buick Verano and Lacrosse headliners to provide acoustical padding that reduces noise in the passenger compartment.

Fort Wayne generated more than $2 million in recycling revenue last year.

The plant's sustainability progress goes beyond waste reduction. Like GM's Orion Township, Mich., assembly plant, Fort Wayne is powered in part by methane gas produced from a nearby landfill, saving the plant $1 million per year. Beginning in early December, GM will commission another boiler to run on landfill gas, resulting in additional savings and increasing the amount of landfill gas used from 15% to 21%. The renewable energy program, which started in 2002, supplements natural gas to fire one of the plant's boilers. Additional plant efficiency results include:

  • Reducing electricity use by 36% between 2006 and 2010 on a per-vehicle manufactured basis.
  • Tracking real-time electrical use and conducting departmental meetings monthly to review energy performance and cost-reduction opportunities.
  • Converting high bay lighting to efficient T8 fluorescent fixtures, saving approximately $600,000 annually.
  • Reducing volatile organic carbon emissions by 18% on a per-vehicle produced basis between 2006 and 2010 due to paint shop efficiencies like batch building vehicles by paint color.

Like many GM plants, sustainability efforts extend to Fort Wayne employees, who spread their environmental knowledge to the community. Each year, volunteers participate in litter and household hazardous waste collection efforts and mentor area students on how everyday actions impact local watersheds through the GM Global Rivers Environmental Education Network program.

Fort Wayne recently received a $275 million investment to build the next-generation full-size pickups, creating or retaining 150 jobs.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Intelligent, efficient PLC programming: Cost-saving programming languages are available now; Automation system upgrades; Help from the cloud; Improving flow control; System integration tips
Smarter machines require smarter systems; Fixing PID, part 3; Process safety; Hardware and software integration; Legalities: Integrated lean project delivery
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
PLCs, robots, and the quest for a single controller; how OEE is key to automation solutions.
This article collection contains several articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again