Chapter 9 of The ISO 14001: 2015 Companion discusses managing typical environmental aspects and impacts of the standard. In Part 4 of our four-part series, author Garry Cornell examines the impact of plant and facilities management.
By Gary Cornell
For environmental management, there are two aspects to how you manage plants and facilities. Firstly, there are those things which are there specifically to help manage environmental issues, such as spill kits, drainage interceptors, waste segregation bins, wastewater treatment plants, sampling and monitoring[Field] equipment – any equipment or facilities that are there because they help you control your environmental impacts. It is ideal if you can identify and list these, so you know what needs to be managed. For each, think about what goes into managing them – maintenance, servicing, inspections, testing, etc. You can then schedule the work and carry out checks to make sure it is being done as planned.
The second aspect is considering all the other equipment and facilities, and how they might impact the environment, such as energy use, water use, waste, materials use, emissions and discharges, etc. You can consider these in the aspect and impact assessment, but also make sure good management and controls are in place through your maintenance programs.
Maintenance programs are usually carried out against a detailed schedule. This often uses the idea of Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM), where equipment is maintained to prevent it from breaking down. The schedule dictates when maintenance should take place, and what type of work needs to be carried out. Maintaining equipment and facilities in good condition will ultimately help manage environmental impacts if they work more efficiently as a result.
A newer form of maintenance is now emerging, and this is predictive maintenance. This uses monitoring to predict if equipment or facilities are starting to deteriorate and need maintenance. Examples include vibration monitors on motors, where the frequency of vibrations can predict the condition of the motor and when maintenance is needed. This has the environmental benefit that maintenance focuses on those things that need it, and not as per the schedule whether it needs it or not. This helps lower environmental impacts, for example by reducing consumables used during maintenance (oil changes, filters, etc.)
Inspection processes can also play a key role in making sure environmental impacts are reduced. Good inspections, particularly of facilities, will help pick up if things have broken or need fixing. Keeping equipment and facilities in good working order will benefit their efficiency.
Case study: During an inspection, a compressor room was visited that provided compressed air around a factory. Oil stains and leaks were noted around the compressors, indicating a fault. Questions were asked about maintenance scheduling, and it was discovered that the maintenance of the compressors was contracted out. However, the maintenance hadn’t been done for some time because of cuts to the budget. The compressors, however, consumed over 40% of the electricity use of the factory. When reviewed, the energy use of the compressors had doubled in the last two years. The cost of this was sufficient not only to pay for the maintenance, but to have purchased brand-new compressors. The savings of doing so were significant, far greater than the money saved on cutting the maintenance budget. The effect of cutting the budget was to spend far more!
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About the author: Garry Cornell works with businesses to improve environmental management through training, auditing and advice. He has 25 years' experience working with some of the world's leading businesses and is the author of "The ISO14001:2015 Companion."
For additional information about ISO 14001: 2015:
ISO 14001:2015 Aspects and Their Impact: Waste Management
ISO 14001:2015 Aspects and Their Impact: Chemicals Use
ISO 14001:2015 Aspects and Their Impact: Energy Use & Management
On-Demand Webinar: ISO 14001: 2015 - Significant Changes on the Horizon – Are You Ready?
ISO 14001: Expert Advice to Engage Leaders & Choose Certification Bodies
On-Demand Webinar: The Secrets of Securing Leadership Commitment to Environmental Management