[Interview - Nicolas Lavarini and Marco Guidi, Jean Gallay] “Rethinking production flows in order to use less energy”

Jean Gallay SA, a subcontractor to engine manufacturers, has completely redesigned its internal flows to avoid unnecessary movements of parts. It also recovers the heat produced by its furnaces and rents its roof for photovoltaic energy production.



Jean Gallay SA manages over 30 manufacturing and control processes under one roof (forming, brazing, welding, heat treatment, etc.). It has 185 employees in Geneva and supplies components for aircraft engines and gas turbines. Interview with Nicolas Lavarini, operations director, and Marco Guidi, head of machine maintenance, buildings, safety and environment

What prompted you to rethink your production flows?

The growth in the aeronautical industry related to the arrival of new aircraft such as the 737 max and 320 neo, which use less kerosene, is generating large orders for engine manufacturers and their subcontractors, such as us. These volumes have led us to reconsider our industrial operations and organization, prompting us to optimize the management of production flows. By reducing the length of these flows, we have also indirectly reduced pipeline products: parts spend less time in the workshop and require less transport and therefore less energy.

We have also worked on the ergonomics of the workstations and adapted the tooling for transporting parts. Finally, we have invested in more modern equipment, which therefore consumes less energy than older machines.

Can you quantify these reductions?

We have reduced delivery times by about 30%. But it’s too early to quantify energy reduction, as we only started in early 2018.

The first industrial sorting centre in Geneva was installed in your company over 25 years ago. What is the situation today?

We recycle 58 types of products: window glass, paper, oil, waste water, wood, all consumables, etc. And we have a recycling rate of 86%.

We also resell the materials that we sort (metals such as titanium, stainless steel, scrap metal, aluminium, etc.). We also recover the swarf produced during machining and a subcontractor comes to collect them and put them through a recycling process.

Do you also recover heat?

We have 3 vacuum heat treatment furnaces. They discharge hot water that goes through a heat pump and heats our administrative building. When enough heat has been produced, we turn off our boiler completely.

How did you set up this system?

The idea came from an SIG energy audit. This heat recovery system was then developed with Services Industriels. This is an energy efficiency contract, in which SIG participates in the payment.

Did it change anything in terms of production?

-We already had these furnaces and this system has not changed anything in terms of production. Heat is recovered backstage of production. So we had to fit heat pumps to our furnaces.

Would you have any advice for manufacturers wanting to adopt the same approach?

Any facility that discharges heat can be used, but the financial interest remains to be seen. On our side, the return on investment should be 6 years.

It is important to know that we also had to invest money, because we had to change the cooling towers and connect them with pipes and electrically operated valves. It is essential to ensure that the heat treatment is safe.

What other actions have you taken?

Four years ago, we set up a "green team" in the factory made up of about ten people whose aim is to find eco-friendly actions. Since then, we have been heating differently, turning off the lights, working on saving paper, rethinking our printing system (printing only if necessary and if it is, printing mainly in black and white), etc.

You have also installed solar panels on the roof.

Yes, but they don't belong to us. Four years ago, we were approached by a company because our roof had been completely renovated. They fitted 1,200 photovoltaic panels and sell their energy to SIG. As our roof is flat and the panels tilted, the output is good: equivalent to the electricity consumption of 155 apartments per year.

Interview and text by Aline Yazgi for the Genie.ch team.

Moderated by : Traduction Birdwell

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