What's Lean and green? Two new processes developed at the Richmond plant, that's what. First there's the granulator. It recycles copper. Then there's the regrinder. It recycles Teflon. Obviously, both materials can be used again in our manufacturing processes.
How did the granulator and the regrinder come to Richmond? According to Jason Posey, quality assurance manager, at the Richmond plant, it’s all about scrap and waste and what we do with it.
“We knew that third-party salvage companies paid a lot more for bare copper scrap than insulated scrap,” said Posey. “After some brainstorming, our engineers found a machine that could separate the insulation from the copper. When we saw the machines in operation, we decided it was right for us and a good financial move."
How does this work? The recycling granulator takes scrap wire that has insulation on it and separates the trash insulation from the bare copper. The bare copper is called “chops.” The chops are sent to a smelter to be remade into copper rod, which is the base material we use to make copper wire.
The regrinder takes Teflon (plastic) scrap and grinds it up then re-pelletizes it for reuse. The re-pelletized Teflon never leaves the Richmond plant and is reused in manufacturing new products.
"We have shared the knowledge with other plants and several are reviewing how the process might benefit their facility. Right now, West Penn, Nogales, the Distribution Center and the Belden Engineering Center send their scrap wire to us for processing.”
It’s Lean: we are improving the reclaim/salvage efficiency. It’s green: we’re reducing cost. And it’s green again: these new tools keep the material in-house for reuse instead of throwing it away.