Greenhouse with plants

Sustainability: the only possible road to the future​

In the month in which the World Environment Day is observed, Fiat and Jeep celebrate environmental management results in factories

June 28, 2019 - With specific strategies for each factory, Fiat and Jeep celebrate the results of actions taken to preserve the environment, achieved with technology, employee engagement and community participation.

Exponent of Industry 4.0, the Fiat Automotive Plant in Betim (MG, Brazil) uses technology such as Virtual Reality and the Internet of Things to achieve more than efficiency in its production processes and better environmental management. In three years, the plant reduced the amount of waste generated by 12%, in addition to consuming 23% less energy and 37% less water for each vehicle produced. In the last two years, resources directed to environmental management totaled R$ 96.6 million, including actions towards environmental education and development of new technologies.

Factory’s Ecological Island

Within the press unit Virtual Reality is used to define more accurately the steel plate cuts to avoid wastage. Leftovers are not discarded, but instead forwarded as noble parts for suppliers to use as raw material to produce smaller components for the body, such as fuel tank lids, for example. Marco Túlio Cruz, leader of the Environment for Presses explains that "of the total steel consumed in the unit, 51% is effectively used for body parts and the rest is sent to suppliers as raw material for other processes".

The waste generated at the Fiat Automotive Plant is sent to the factory’s Ecological Island, which has a team dedicated to manage it. Nothing is sent to the landfills. In fact, the Fiat Automotive Plant is the first automotive factory in Brazil to have achieved the goal of Zero Landfill. Since 2011, 100% of the waste is recycled or reused. Over the past five years, 7,000 tons of plastic and 9,400 tons of paper have been sent for recycling. The factory has even developed an innovative Styrofoam recycling technique, which reduces 50 times the volume of the material. FCA follows the 5R principle: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover. Check out the video below to learn more:

The Internet of Things now has a fundamental role in reducing energy consumption. One of the projects in the Body Shop unit has to do with the fans used to cool soldering tongs in the cooling tower. These used to run continuously but are now only activated when necessary. Thus, according to the analyst for the Body Shop Technology Processes unit, Paulo Carneiro, the average consumption fell from 88.26 to 21.88 KWh, a drop of 75%. "We connected a frequency inverter to a temperature sensor," he explains.

Projects like this one are suggested by the employees themselves, through World Class Manufacturing (WCM), which is the methodology focused on reducing losses and increasing productivity used by FCA around the world. Last year alone, more than 900 projects were developed only to reduce electricity consumption at the Betim plant, a figure three times higher than in the previous year. Between 2015 and 2018, the reduction in consumption is equivalent to the supply of more than 16 thousand homes with four residents. And the goal is to continue on this path, of course.

The coordinator for Environment, Health and Work Safety at the Fiat Automotive Plant, Flávia Vilas, says that each operational unit in the factory has spaces dedicated to experiences and practices of environmental and energy management. "The objective is to provide employees with the conditions to explore opportunities never before perceived, seeking solutions for rational use of energy, reduction of waste generation, among other environmental aspects", she says.

In Pernambuco, at the Jeep Automotive Plant, preservation takes place directly in the wilderness. There, the car factory is also a seedling factory, produced to restore and preserve the original biome of the region: the Atlantic Forest. "For centuries, this region was dominated by the cultivation of sugarcane, which replaced the native vegetation", says Danubia Lima, coordinator of the Biodiversity Program. In 2014, according to Danubia, 174 native species from the region surrounding the plant were identified in partnership with the federal universities of Pernambuco (UFPE) and Rural of Pernambuco (UFRPE) in order to start the program. Today, Jeep celebrates the results: about 100 thousand seedlings from 295 different species have returned to their area, restoring the landscape of the ‘Zona da Mata’ of Pernambuco.

Little girls planting trees

And that's just the beginning. The plant’s nursery has the capacity to produce 88,000 seedlings per year. The goal is to plant effectively 208 thousand seedlings by 2024, with the creation of 304 hectares of green area and ecological corridors. "It is one of the most relevant recovery projects in the country’s Atlantic Forest", confirms Danubia. The sites for planting are chosen in order to form ecological corridors capable of connecting forest fragments to attract the local fauna. The cameras used for monitoring the fauna in the region have already captured images of anteaters and even ocelots with small kittens.

The distinctive aspect of this program is the involvement of the community. Mateiros or forest guides such as Saberé are mobilized to identify and collect seeds and fruits in the Atlantic Forest remnants in the region, an essential work for the recovery of the biome. "I preserve as much as I can, as if the plants were my children", says Saberé, who begins his activities at four o'clock in the morning. See the video below:

The program also offers 5th grade students, from the city’s public schools, guided tours to the nursery to experience what they’ve learned in the classroom. More than 1,200 students have already attended. All are invited to plant seedlings produced there. Training workshops are also provided for teachers and supervisors.

Just like the Fiat Plant, the Jeep Plant is also committing to having 100% of its waste recycled or reused. It’s the first plant in the Brazilian Northeast to have Zero Landfill. In the region, this achievement has boosted the development of the recycling chain around the Plant, thus generating new business opportunities. This is the way to the future.

Words: Daniel Schneider

Pictures: Marketing

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