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Never tire of saving energy! ISO 50001 is a win-win for Bridgestone

by Garry Lambert on
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By the end of 2012, the energy management systems of more than 1 000 organizations in 50 countries had been certified to ISO 50001*, only 18 months after its publication. Many are major global enterprises seeking to achieve continual improvement in energy performance, including enhanced energy efficiency, and reduced energy use and consumption.

One of the latest companies to have gained ISO 50001 certification is the Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) manufacturing facility at Wilson County, N.C., USA. BATO is part of the Bridgestone Corporation, which became the world’s largest tyre producer with the acquisition of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in 1988. Bridgestone also requires all its manufacturing facilities to obtain the ISO 14001 environmental management certification, and, to date, 52 US sites have done so.

A win-win situation

“ Our company has long been focused on reducing the use of natural resources and instituting sustainable manufacturing practices, so while earning this certification is a great honour, I’m happy to say it’s also business as usual for our plant, ” said Gary Williamson, BATO Plant Manager. “ Energy saving isn’t just good for our environment, it’s also good for our bottom line, so this is truly a win-win situation. ”

Bridgestone Americas Headquarters and Support Center in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
Bridgestone Americas Headquarters and Support Center in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Bridgestone’s Wilson County plant cites several recent energy-saving projects that helped contribute to the ISO 50001 certification, including switching the primary fuel source to natural gas in its boilers, shutting down equipment when not in operation, promptly repairing steam and air leaks, insulating piping and executing several lighting optimization projects.

ISO Focus+ asked Letha Barnes, a Bridgestone electrical engineer and project manager for ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance** implementation and certification, to comment on the process and the benefits to the company.

ISO Focus+ : What was your involvement in the implementation/certification process ?

Letha Barnes : With assistance from my colleagues, I was responsible for developing the energy baseline, identifying energy sources, modifying and creating new procedures and forms, gathering energy data, communicating information with the plant, creating the schedule for certification, and implementing other requirements of the standard.

ISO Focus+ : Following ISO 50001 certification, how to you think implementation of the standard will change or influence Bridgestone’s approach to energy management ?

Letha Barnes : We believe implementation of ISO 50001 will bring a new awareness to energy conservation and management. From identifying new opportunities for reducing energy consumption to designing and purchasing more energy-efficient products and services, every BATO team-mate can contribute to energy management. The standard requires us to identify operations that have a significant impact on energy. Communication and training on how our jobs impact energy will reiterate the influence we have on energy management and keep it fresh in our minds.

ISO Focus+ : What is the scope of certification – does it extend beyond Bridgestone Americas ?

Letha Barnes : The scope of our certification includes the entire Wilson Plant. We also communicate to our vendors that purchases will be evaluated on their energy performance. While there is a policy in place to implement energy management systems across the company, there is not necessarily a directive that ISO 50001 must be obtained.

ISO Focus+ : Did you find the implementation process straightforward, and did you integrate it with other ISO-based management systems such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 ?

Letha Barnes : Once we understood the requirements of the standard, implementation was straightforward. We felt we could comply with the standard. Our prior certification to ISO 14001 definitely helped with implementation. We were able to modify existing documentation and practices to ISO 50001.

ISO Focus+ : Did you need to adapt any requirements of the standard or its interpretation to suit Bridgestone’s operating practices and policies ?

Letha Barnes : BATO-Wilson has been in operation for over 38 years and we still have some of the original plant metering. We had to assess our metering capabilities to ensure we could monitor and measure our energy sources as required by the standard. For areas that had less metering, we were able to determine energy consumption through gathered data.

ISO Focus+ : What energy-saving measures and initiatives do you expect to put in place as a result of certification ?

Letha Barnes : We are now being more proactive with considering energy in engineering designs and purchases. We are also adding emphasis to daily equipment checks. We expect to continue with energy audits and implementing energy reduction projects.

Since implementation of ISO 50001, team-mates have been more conscious of how they can impact energy, and more proactive with submitting energy reduction ideas. As an example, we are fitting new T5 fixtures (including lamps and ballast) using approximately 217 W electricity each compared to the old 465 W fixtures.

That is a saving of 248 W in one year for one fixture. Part of the upgrade includes changing some T12 lamps to T8 lamps. By the end of 2012, we should have upgraded 1 600 fixtures. We estimate to save at least 180 kW and 1 532 768 kWh in one year. We are also planning to upgrade additional space in 2013, and the goal for the year is to achieve at least the same amount of savings as in 2012.

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The ISO 50001 implementation team at Bridgestone Americas’ Wilson Plant. From left : Gwen Brinson, Implementation Coordinator, Charles Boswell, Energy Management Systems Representative, Letha Barnes, Project Manager, Dekra Auditor I (automotive industry testing, inspection and certification provider), Dekra Auditor II, and Gary Williamson, Plant Manager.
The ISO 50001 implementation team at Bridgestone Americas’ Wilson Plant. From left : Gwen Brinson, Implementation Coordinator, Charles Boswell, Energy Management Systems Representative, Letha Barnes, Project Manager, Dekra Auditor I (automotive industry testing, inspection and certification provider), Dekra Auditor II, and Gary Williamson, Plant Manager.