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Embracing Green at Braun – An Operational Way of Life

By Joe Gudenburr, President, GA Braun

Change is the one thing that remains constant in business.  The speed of change has accelerated with the advent of new technologies and through the creativity of the brilliant minds that are perpetually enhancing, and in some cases disrupting, the norms of our time.  As we all grow older we become somewhat resistant to this change, but we all realize that in order to remain viable in business we must embrace the changes that are thrust upon us.  It is a way of life and a norm as we look to evolve, grow, and diversify the businesses that we operate.

Why would I start out an article about Green Initiatives using the topic of change?  It is simple…..Green has truly become a way of life for all of us regardless of if we are environmental junkies, or simply average Joe’s who don’t have any desire to pursue being green.  Every day the green movement impacts our lives.  Whether it is at the grocery store via organic alternatives, recycled containers used to store the products that we purchase, or if it is in the technologies that we use to power our vehicles or businesses.  Green is here to stay, and it isn’t a bad thing.

A few months back I was in a business planning meeting at Braun and our team started to reflect on the many ways that each of our departments has been impacted by the green movement, and more importantly on the initiatives that we have adopted to have a favorable impact on the environment.  This discussion did not stop there.  As we continued to discuss how we evolved to our current state we realized that being green wasn’t necessarily the primary driver, but that the smart design and operating practices led to these green initiatives being institutionalized within our business.  As we dug into this further we started to realize how significant the impacts have been on our product portfolio, on our operating practices, and on the value that this now allows us to afford to our client partners.  I don’t want to say it was a “eureka moment”, but it was one that created a heightened sense of awareness and pride in what has been accomplished.

As a manufacturer in our industry we are often are looked upon as simply a supplier, and not as a process manufacturer.  The reality is that we run plants, we use metrics to measure everything that we do, we face dynamic supply-chain markets, and aggressive competition like every one of our potential clients.  The reality is that we are no different from our clients, and we all have to run disciplined businesses if we want to be viable in the market.  These similarities continue as our clients perpetually look at ways to reduce their costs, and in many cases (whether by choice, or by regulatory mandate) pursue opportunities to embrace green practices to reduce their carbon footprint.  As noted we are all in this together and we can all benefit from the experiences that we share.  Every day we are sharing the green / efficiency benefits of our designs and products with our clients, but it usually stops there.  This is what led me to write this article in the hope that our story will benefit and possibly motivate others.

From a products perspective we are always discussing gallons per pound of linen processed, chemicals or KWh’s used per hundred weight, BTU’s consumed per pound of water removed, or pounds per operator hour.  This discussion surrounds how our products help our clients achieve a lower level of consumption in all categories noted.  This is a green initiative on both sides of the equation……as the supplier, and as the buyer / end user!

I could write a book on the features, functions, and benefits of our products, and how we have developed and evolved each to bring greater value to the end users and in so doing afford them greener operations.  Rather than do so now I will leave it to the reader to visit the products section of our website or discuss each with our regional technical sales leadership to get a true appreciation for how our tunnel systems, conventional washroom, and textile finishing solutions provide said benefits.

As most in this industry we are pretty proud of our solutions, and love to have the opportunity to discuss them with potential users, or to host this same audience at our manufacturing and R&D center to do a deep dive with our technical staff.  In an effort to keep our focus on other green initiatives I instead would like to touch on some of the plant specific efforts and portfolio offerings that grew out of our lean program that are having a significant green impact.

Editor Note:  In Part Two of Mr. Gudenburr’s piece we’ll look at the specific green initiatives instituted at the Braun manufacturing facility which the company is embracing as an operational way of life.  The photo above shows that the entire Braun factory has been converted to LED lighting.