Australian footwear and apparel
RM Williams is a well known Australian clothing manufacturer and retailer. The company employs 340 staff at its manufacturing operation in Salisbury, South Australia.
RM Williams is well known for quality footwear, clothing, accessories and a wide range of craft products.
The company distributes these products through 53 of its own retail stores within Australia and overseas, and more than 800 wholesale stockists globally.
Identifying environmental opportunities
RM Williams manufacturing reports on a triple bottom line – financial, environmental and community. In 2005, the organisation’s Environment Committee commissioned an environmental audit for its operations. The process identified potential improvements within waste streams and consumables, and served as a basis for sustainability opportunities.
Today the Environmental Committee has representatives from across the organisation. It meets quarterly to report on environmental performance.
Culture of sustainability & continuous improvement
Additionally, the organisation runs a 5S program which operates across 18 teams, each meeting bi-weekly. Teams must identify efficiency and reduction opportunities within their workspace. Kaizan, or improvement events, regularly focus on key areas:
- Separation of waste streams
- Energy awareness (e.g. switching off equipment)
- Sustainability opportunities in technology.
Energy Audit and findings
In late 2011 the organisation undertook Pangolin Associates’ Energy Audit as part of the South Australia Government’s Business Sustainability Alliance program (BSA).
RM Williams’ manufacturing base had expanded significantly over the previous decade, so the organisation needed further improvements to its environmental performance. It needed to act on sustainability for productivity and energy efficiencies, that could underwrite its manufacturing capacity growth.
The Energy Audit identified energy savings measures of approximately 21% percent per year, and cost savings of more than $66,000 per year. Pangolin’s auditors calculated the payback period of less than 3 years.
Energy & waste achievements in 2012
Following the Energy Audit, RM Williams made substantial reductions in energy usage and waste to landfill. In 2012:
- 84,500 KWh savings in energy management
- 54 tonnes of cardboard recycling / reuse
- 21 tonnes of white paper recycling
- 16 tonnes of timber recycling
- 40 tonnes of leather off cuts
Total waste diversion rate: 42%.
Sustainability initiatives in progress and in future
Following Pangolin’s recommendations, sustainability actions include:
- Voltage optimisation: Through Pangolin’s partner Energywise, the organisation has already implemented power factor correction and voltage optimisation on their distribution board. See voltage optimisation results: Energywise / RM Williams report (PDF, 825 Kb).
- Energy efficient lighting: The organisation is now replacing warehouse high bay metal halide lighting with occupancy and daylight sensing: 4 x 58 W T5 lighting is under trial. In 2012, the organisation replaced 153 T8 lighting with efficient T5 lighting within manufacturing.
- Solar renewable energy source: The manufacturing facility is investigating a 100KW solar photovoltaic (PV) array application and will soon forward this to its senior management and their board.
- Equipment improvements: Compressor pipe work from a dryer has been replaced, and the compressor’s timer rewired.
The energy audit produced by Pangolin Associates identified numerous opportunities in which RM Williams may further improve its environmental performance through energy efficiency initiatives. Many of the recommendations produced by Davide Ross and Matthew Curnow have already been implemented resulting not only in energy efficiency and environmental performance improvements, but importantly also providing energy capacity for the planned growth of our organisation.
Graham Potter, Manager – Engineering Services
Business Sustainability Alliance (BSA) Energy Efficiency Funding
RM Williams and several other Pangolin clients in South Australia have received BSA Energy Efficiency funding. This assisted them in undertaking energy audits and training.
BSA is an initiative of the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources & Energy, SA Water, Zero Waste SA, and The Environment Protection Authority.