Sony’s Malaysian production sites step up to the Eco Challenge

Tapping ingenuity and teamwork, Sony Malaysia’s sites successfully reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent

The first site in the Pan-Asia region to participate in the Eco Challenge was Penang Tec, Sony EMCS Malaysia, in August 2011. An ambitious goal of the employee-supported project was to eliminate waste energy by reducing consumption by nearly one third.

Tan Hooi Hong of Sony’s Pan-Asia Regional Environmental Office places the project in perspective. “Meeting our long-term target of a zero environmental footprint is a monumental task. To get all people involved, not just environmental representatives, we need to cultivate responsibility and make energy efficiency a shared goal in the workplace.”

The project was divided into three phases, and in each phase, seven to eight member teams from each division proposed energy-saving ideas, implemented them, and checked the results. Penang Tec’s first-phase efforts were spearheaded by divisions involved in quality assurance, circuit board mounting and speaker production.

Slashing sector-wide energy consumption by 30 per cent was the goal of the Eco Challenge team that Lem Seoh Kheng of the Quality Division was appointed to lead in achieving in August 2011. At first, Seoh Kheng doubted the possibility of achieving the target. “I thought the most we could hope for was 10 per cent,” she recalled. Despite many initiatives in the first month, they had limited success.

But after two months, the doubts of Seoh Kheng and her Eco Challenge team members gave way to optimism when their initial efforts proved surprisingly effective. They were now convinced they could achieve the target.

Three Eco Challenge members share their experiences in this report, from left: Chong Kim Fat, Eco Challenge manager at Penang Tec; Lem Seoh Kheng, Eco Challenge leader, Penang Tec Quality Division; Tan Hooi Hong, Pan-Asia Regional Environmental Office and Eco Challenge supporter

Initially, team members were unsure how to begin. Chong Kim Fat, Penang Tec Eco Challenge manager, recalled how they needed to make sure workers understood what a kilowatt-hour of energy really meant.

Kim Fat began by making energy consumption more tangible. He set up measurement systems at circuit panels for air conditioners, lighting, temperature and humidity chambers and other equipment so that consumption details were visible to everyone. His goal: to make people aware of how much energy they were consuming.

Although lots of data were being collected, Seoh Kheng and her team were still pondering specific ways to save energy. She thought of placing suggestion boxes to solicit energy-saving ideas across the division and soon, suggestions started pouring in.

Seoh Kheng’s team began by reducing the number of fluorescent tubes used. Careful brightness measurements throughout the division revealed that storage rooms and walkways were lit more brightly than the office areas. By arranging the optimal brightness in each area, the team nearly halved the number of tubes, from 617 to 362- without affecting working conditions. Encouraged by the results, her team soon tried other approaches, such as streamlining the use of air conditioners and production equipment. Ultimately, they achieved a 38 per cent reduction in energy consumption- far surpassing the initial goal of 30 per cent.

Eco Challenge Phase 1 Leaders, from left: Toh Chye Teik, Segaran Shattan and Choo Yoon Paw

Most significantly, everyone was now more aware of the importance of saving energy. The true mission of the Eco Challenge had been accomplished.

As Kim Fat later recalled, “There’s a difference between ignorance and inability. When one of us gets inspired and takes action, any improvements made will also benefit other divisions. Monetary investment may be a shortcut to success in some cases, but this won’t encourage innovative solutions. The Eco Challenge is all about employee initiative and ingenuity.”

The second phase saw five divisions trim energy consumption by nearly 30 per cent in less than half a year, and Phase 3 is currently underway. The local can-do spirit (Boleh! in Malay) helped save energy in many Penang Tec divisions, with all employees playing a part in improving energy efficiency.

Read about Energy-Saving Solutions by Sony EMCS Malaysia Penang Tec

Penang Tec, Sony EMCS Malaysia

As the Sony Group’s largest base of production, Sony EMCS Malaysia comprises the two sites of Penang Tec and Kuala Lumpur Tec. Penang Tec is a huge production facility that makes audio equipment and personal audio products such as headphones for markets around the world.

Kuala Lumpur Tec, Sony EMCS Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur Tec (KL Tec), which produces LCD TVs and other products, is also taking on the Eco Challenge. They slashed energy consumption between August and November 2011 (Phase 1) and between January and May 2012 (Phase 2) by about 33 per cent, in each phase.

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