Manufacturing Today Article: Sustainable by Design
In a competitive waste-handling equipment market, Michigan-based Sebright Products Inc. says its quality, product innovation, design, manufacturing capabilities and customer service set it apart.
“Our customers are given more attention than they would get in typical manufacturing environments,” says Stuart Sebright, general manager of Sebright’s Bright Technologies division. “We offer service after the sale, and issues are handled by the best person for the job. For example, design problems go to an engineer who goes right to the customer.”
A designer himself, Sebright handles many service inquiries and continues to be involved in the company’s product design process.
The company was founded in 1978 as Brent Sebright Co. to focus on solid waste equipment installation and service. It entered the waste equipment manufacturing industry in 1982 and continued to offer factory installation and service.
The company also developed specialties in heavy-duty industrial and custom turnkey equipment products and services. “We are known for creative solutions to waste-handling problems with custom equipment and factory installation,” the company states. To date, the company has sold more than 10,000 systems throughout North America, Asia and South America.
In 1993, Sebright Products began selling high-density extruders to reduce wet waste streams through liquid separation. This new segment was targeted to the pulp and paper industry, thanks to the products’ success with fibrous materials.
In 1999, the company established Bright Technologies as an operating division devoted to the wet waste and recycling side of the business. With this step, it introduced a line of stainless steel belt filter presses to compliment its Extruder product.
This gave the company the ability to service most wet waste streams, Sebright notes. Since then, he explains, the division has sold more than 200 systems in this division.
Today, Sebright Products operates four manufacturing locations – three in Michigan and one in Utah – with a total of 90 employees and 42,000 square feet of manufacturing space.
“The way we manufacture is kind of different than what a lot of people do,” Sebright says. “We do a lot of custom manufacturing. We have standard products as the base of an order but the final order typically contains a number of options that are selected for the application to provide the correct solution for the client. The typical process starts with the sales order, and then we have a project manager or project engineer follow up with customers to get the details and work through the design,” he adds.
“Then, we turn it over to the manufacturing folks who may have additional questions, which are coordinated through our salespeople and project engineers. Most of the manufacturing is steel fabrication and assembly.”
Bright Technologies makes belt filter presses for wet waste from industrial and municipal wastewater treatment applications, Sebright says.
“The solids that come off the machine can go to the landfill, or in some cases land applied. The liquids are returned back to the headworks of the treatment plant or treatment lagoon from which it was removed from.”
Bright Technologies’ newest product is the Xtractor, a specialized version of its popular extruder. It’s designed for liquid depackaging – separating liquid from plastic or Aluminum containers in recycling applications.
“Along with the base unit, there are options that can enhance the Xtractor’s performance such as a perforator, which is designed for plastic bottles,” Sebright says. “Our conveyors can be custom designed to meet the needs of our customers. We also manufacture several styles of cart dumpers. In industrial settings, companies move their trash through their facilities in carts. We usually build the cart dumper to fit the existing carts to save the client the expense of having to replace them with a large number of carts that fit a standardized dumper,” he continues.
“Another product we’ve had for a while but, quite honestly, we didn’t market very well until recently is our Densifier. It is designed for light foam products and we’re also prototyping with some expanded polypropylene. It makes the material 20 times denser than its original form. For instance, loose styrofoam weighs about 3,000 pounds in a semi, but when run through a densifier, you can get a full 35,000 to 40,000 pounds in the trailer,” Sebright adds.
Most of the company’s customers are located in North America, but it does some business overseas, particularly in China, where there is a growing pulp and paper industry. “We have a couple of people there now visiting with customers and trying to expand our trade there,” Sebright says.
In all of Sebright Products’ markets, sustainability is a growing trend. He says all of the company’s products are green or sustainable and have been for a long time.
“Our products are tied to recycling and waste handling, reducing fuel usage and transportation costs – all of that fits into the category of reducing a company’s carbon footprint,” Sebright explains.
Sebright Products is exploring some new avenues, and taking its products into new areas. Sebright explains that most of the company’s new product introductions are “evolutionary rather than revolutionary.”
One of its biggest departures, he says, has been the Belt Filter Press, introduced in 1999, which is not a hydraulic press, like the company’s other products.
“Our Belt Filter Press systems typically remove 80 percent by weight, of the water contained in organic sludge and slurries in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants,” Sebright says. “That cuts four out of five trips of liquid hauling by weight. If the sludge was being land applied, as many are, the dry cake solids have much less chance of causing non-point source pollution of nearby waterways. The frame, rollers and pans are fabricated from stainless steel, which maintains a better appearance, is easier to clean and is a 100 percent recyclable material.”
In the future, Sebright says, the company will continue to work with customers, dealers and strategic business partners to develop new products and variations.
“Our marketing focus for the com- ing years will be focusing more on sustainability – being more green, and putting more green into customers’ wallets. Doing right by the environment can also be doing the right thing for your bottom line.”