Designing products for the environment, and for the customer
The engineering mission at Hypertherm Associates is to develop innovative technologies, products, and solutions that provide superior value to our customers, our owners, and our planet. We take a multi-faceted approach to fulfilling this mission, including performing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), using an internally developed Design for Sustainability scorecard, and integrating sustainable design principles into every aspect of our work, from our supply chain to our operations, and product design, end use, and disposal.
In 2010, we developed a set of 2020 sustainability goals, including three product goals around recyclability, energy effieciency, and carbon. These goals have resulted in products that are now 100 percent recyclable and, on average, 34 percent more efficient. Our global logistics network is 71 percent more efficient and our New Hampshire waste-to-landfill rate is near zero. Overall, the carbon impact on our business is 85 percent lower.
Despite the above success, our work is not done. We are now working toward a set of 2030 goals designed to reduce our use of resources, the carbon impact of our global operations, and address the impact caused by Hypertherm products in use. Even though these goals were established to protect the environment, we believe our business and customers will also benefit by making us more resilient, reducing risk, and learning our value streams.
While our goal is stated in terms of recyclability, we recognize that on the waste reduction hierarchy, source reduction and reuse are more important than recycling. We therefore guide end users to reuse and reduce their equipment use. See guidance for recycling your Hypertherm Associates equipment >
We have had recyclability assessments performed by e-waste experts on products from three different product families, and found these three products are more than 99% recyclable. This means that if products get to the right recycling facility, all materials can be recycled. We know that the vast majority of end users sell their used equipment or keep it around for spare parts, before it finally gets sent to a scrap yard. Overall, the worst case is that 7% by weight of our products end up in landfills. We are working to educate end users so that the actual portion of our products recycled is 100%. Recycling instructions >
The design of our products is very important to insuring that recycling is not just possible, but easy. The Hypertherm MAXPRO200, for example, is 14% lighter with a 60 part count reduction compared to its predecessor. It is the first 100% RoHS compliant product in our mechanized family of plasma products, and is 100% recyclable. We are also working to make sure our consumables last longer and are easy to recycle.
Just as the efficiency of a car is based partly on its miles per gallon rating, we measure our products by how many inches they can cut on a kilowatt-hour of electricity. For example, the XPR300 has a 4% higher cutting efficiency than its predecessor, the HPR260. It cuts 14% faster and has a 62% higher power to weight ratio. Speed and consumable life improvements combine to make 64% less consumable copper used per foot of cut. These improvements mean that the XPR has less impact on the environment, while being more productive. That is good news for end users, whose cost of doing business is reduced through lower energy use, lower consumable costs, and higher productivity. Plant managers or operations leaders who have energy use reduction goals will note that the higher cutting efficiency, faster speeds, and productivity will all help them reach those energy use reduction targets.
Our products’ carbon impact is measured with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). All products and services have life cycle phases where material and energy are consumed and waste and emissions are created. An LCA is a scientific method for analyzing the environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of a product, from cradle-to-grave. The impacts include those from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling.
Our LCAs show that our largest impacts are in the energy used by our products to cut, and the scrap generated by those cuts. When end users use ProNest nesting software, they can greatly reduce both their cost of scrap and their impact on the environment. The high quality cuts performed by Hypertherm Associates products mean that there are fewer errors, higher quality, and reduced secondary operations. This quality directly results in lower carbon impacts. We are currently investigating more areas where we can help end users reduce their scrap.
Design for Sustainability scorecard
In addition to LCA, Hypertherm Associates engineers use a Design for Sustainability scorecard to ensure that products are designed with the environment in mind. Our product scorecard reflects metrics that map to our 2020 Sustainability goals. The infographics below show the scorecard metrics as applied to the Hypertherm Powermax45® XP and XPR300®.
Click on each infographic for a more detailed explanation of each metric.