5 Oct 2021
What is the impact of my industrial activity on the environment? This is the question that Axon' and a dozen other companies in the region have been trying to answer for a year. The aim is to define the life cycle of manufactured products in order to limit their impact on the environment. This is a voluntary approach promoted by the Grand Est region and the French ecological transition agency ADEME, which is based on ISO 14001. To support companies, the region has set up a collective support program called CYVISO 14001. This study already provides answers that will impact the design of Axon' interconnect links and connectors.
Quantifying to act
"Until now, we only thought about the environmental impact of manufacturing," explains Stéphanie Achart, an engineer in the Axon' design office. With the CYVISO approach, the aim is to define the life cycle of manufactured products and estimate their impact on the environment. This involves the traceability of raw materials, the choice of supply, upstream or downstream transport, each stage of production, the choice of packaging and the disposal of the product. After selecting a cable representative of the different stages of production, Axon' was able to quantify the impact of its activity on the environment after one year of study. The result is clear: the choice of raw materials has a significant impact on the environmental impact of the product. The next study will focus on connectors, another emblematic product range of the company.
Collecting and analyzing precise data on materials or production steps is one thing. Reducing the impact of these products is another. Engineers will no longer have to answer the question: "What materials should I use for my customer to make the cable resistant to 150°C and chemicals? " but "what materials should I select for my customer so that the cable meets their needs with a minimum impact on the environment?” This approach therefore involves raising the awareness of the engineers in the design and R&D departments. They will have to integrate this aspect into the development and design of the product. The stakes are high: it is a question of encouraging environmental innovation while offering quality products to customers.
Accurately defining the life cycle of manufactured cables or connectors is essential to implement measures that will limit their impact on the environment. This also includes their use and disposal once delivered to the customer. From the co-engineering phase onwards, customers must be made aware of the future of their products, and offered reusable solutions, for example, or the possibility of reducing the thickness of insulation, while reassuring them of the quality of the products.
A collective effort
This voluntary approach is based on collective work. Regular work groups have been and are organized between the design office, the R&D department and the quality department. An external consultant, expert in the ISO 14001 approach, takes part in these working groups to facilitate their development. Cross-audits between volunteer companies are also organized. This collective support allows the companies to benefit from the feedback of their experiences in order to quickly gain competence in the field. In any case, this is a long-term approach that will change our habits.