GP Crash Repairs (GP) at Albion is one company that ten years ago saw the light and implemented some simple measures to reduce operating costs and improve their environmental performance. GP is a typical spray painting and panel beating workshop with 12 employees. As in all such workshops, solvents and their disposal represent a significant cost. Ten years ago the company recognised this and began implementing a number of changes.
Firstly, a solvent recycling unit was purchased ($1,200.00). The unit significantly reduced the need and costs of offsite recycling and disposal. Recently, a second unit was purchased ($1,500). Both units combined produce 40 litres of recycled solvent per week, which is suitable for spray equipment cleaning, base coating, industrial surface coating and 'blackening' (wheel arches, engine bays).
The second step was to purchase two gun wash stations ($700 each). Spray guns are commonly cleaned by spraying solvent through the gun with the solvent simply atomising through the nozzle and evaporating. This practice was previously using up to 60 litres of solvent per week at an approximate cost of $120.00. Combined, the two gun wash stations use only 60 litres per month and achieve the same level of cleaning performance. The solvent used in the gun wash stations comes directly from the solvent recycling units.
The environmental and economic benefits in this simple case study are obvious, both from reductions in total solvent consumption and in disposal and off-site recycling costs. A small quantity of solvent waste still requires disposal as the recyling units generate small volumes of sludge. Also, solvent contaminated with '2 pack' hardeners clogs up the solvent recycling units and cannot be recycled on site.
Mr David Gallagher (Manager of GP) said that implementing these simple measures was an easy decision. The solvent recycling units and the gun wash stations enabled GP to reduce operating costs as well as solvent emissions. Hence, incorporating a solvent management system into the business was a very simple financial decision. Operational savings were immediate and payback periods on capital investments well under a year.