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Monday, June 25th, 2012

Footwork saves workshop attendees on average 10,000GBP of energy

Friday, January 20th, 2012

David Crowfoot of Footwork First recently hosted a series of three energy saving workshops for manufacturers in conjunction with MAS SE and environmental specialists Ecopare. The results were an identified £175,000 and 826 carbon tonnes of savings, with some companies potentially saving up to £30,000.

The workshops have been designed to look at a manufacturers own facility, and the energy they use throughout their production process. Factors such as equipment, shift patterns, down time and products are taken into account and delegates complete both group and individual exercises to highlight their biggest energy users and ways in which they can reduce their energy spend – both short term and long term.

Minoo Sabharwal of Indium Corporation who identified over £8,500 of savings at the workshop said “The workshop helped us understand our energy costs, relative to other manufacturers, and realise how we can make significant changes ourselves.”

David Huddart of Hornby Hobbies who identified a huge £30,000 of potential reductions added: “The workshop was very informative and was a great opportunity to listen to other manufacturers too. It enabled us to understand how we can save money and energy in our business.”

David Crowfoot of Footwork First comments: “These are really practical workshops that deliver a very tangible benefit to manufacturers.

“All too often the energy bills we receive are extremely complex and so we asked delegates to bring their own records so we could help break them down and identify whether they were paying over the odds compared to other manufacturers in the same sector.

“Most delegates identified huge savings they could make by adopting some very simple changes in their facility such as managing machines appropriately during down time and checking the patterns of back up equipment.”

The workshops are ideal for any manufacturers spending over £20,000 each year on energy. Footwork and Ecopare also offer one to one consultancy for manufacturers looking into their energy usage and processes in more depth.

Lean Energy Management

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

With the cost of energy continuing to escalate many manufacturing business are considering energy as a cost of production, rather than an overhead. Subsequently they are investing time and resource to reduce consumption. In fact a recent survey undertaken by EEF showed that energy and waste reduction are the most common environmental strategies adopted by manufacturing businesses[i].

Figure 1 – The increasing cost of energy

The same survey showed that the majority of manufacturers were applying lean techniques which delivered tangible benefits. Furthermore, it is probably not surprising to know that lean companies are greener than their counterparts who have not yet adopted the same techniques.[ii]

This article will explore the effectiveness of integrating energy optimisation into lean activities. It will present that lean activity is not as effective without taking into consideration energy and likewise, that energy reduction programmes are less effective and too narrowly focused without the structure of lean.

How can lean reduce energy?

“Value is created when an activity transforms the “form, fit, or function” of the product, the customer is willing to pay for this change and it is done right first time. Everything else is non-value adding (or waste) and should be reduced and eliminated”

The key principals of value and waste in lean apply directly to energy. Energy, like all other resource, can be associated with the value adding steps (e.g. a machine cutting a component) and with the non-value adding. From the studies we have undertaken the time that energy is being consumed in a non-productive state is often proportionally higher than when adding value. This supports the laws of lean in the need to reduce or eliminate this waste first, before focussing on the value adding activity..

To provide further clarity, the non-value adding activities (or wastes) in lean are also broken down into ‘the seven deadly wastes’, all of which directly apply to energy usage. These can be seen below.

Lean Waste Related Energy Wastes
  • Energy consumed in operating equipment to make unnecessary products.
  • Energy used to heat, cool and light inventory storage space.
Transportation and Motion
  • Energy used to transport product (e.g. conveyors, forklifts etc.)
  • More energy required to heat, cool and light areas where work in progress is moved.
  • Energy consumed in making defective products.
  • Energy for rework and repair (in operation and in heating, lighting and cooling).
  • Energy consumed by equipment whilst it over processing (often product and process enhancements that are not required by the end customer).
  • Energy waste by utilising equipment that is not the right size for the task.
  • Wasted energy from heating, cooling and lighting production downtime.
  • Wasted energy whilst a machine is waiting for work.

Table 1 – The 7 Deadly Wastes and Related Energy Impact (adapted from[iii])

Let’s study an energy profile of a working machine in Figure 2. The differing energy levels mapped on the graph show its operating state, the highest being when it is producing followed by on but not producing, standby and off. The percentage of time for each state is illustrated in the pie chart (producing 47%, on but waiting 27%, standby 22% and off 5% of the time).

Figure 2 – Example of and Energy Profile of a Machine

Table 2 explores the specific states of the machine in more detail and gives some examples of the potential issues or wastes associated with each state. Examples of some of the specific lean tools designed to resolve the specific issues or wastes are then listed.

Table 2 – Energy States, issues, wastes and lean tools

So what does this prove? The complementary nature of energy reduction and lean tools and techniques are clearly demonstrated. In practice, using these tools as part of a company’s improvement activity delivers tangible, sustained results. However, energy improvements implemented in isolation may have an undesired effect elsewhere. Therefore, energy as a component of a number of measures used in lean ensures that any improvements are optimal rather than just focused on one area at the expense of another.

For example, an oven in a bakery should, from an energy perspective, be turned off between batches. However when talking lean, if to heat up the oven increases set up times, which in turn increases batch sizes this cannot be a viable solution. But, if also assessing the cost of energy  we have often found ovens can be reduced by a few degrees without an impact on set up times. By factoring the two metrics together, an even more optimum solution has been found.

Furthermore structured analysis through lean tools (like process and value mapping) integrated with a balanced set of data will show where energy improvements can be made and measures optimised.

Figure 3 – Energy Integrated into a Value Stream Map adapted from[iv]

How can energy optimisation help lean activities

In our introduction, we mentioned a study in the US that showed companies who embraced lean manufacturing were also by nature more greenii. Therefore even without considering energy, lean interventions in the most case have a positive impact on energy. So, it seems that lean engineers and projects are omitting the positive impact they have on energy costs even though there is a high probability their actions have reduced or optimised energy consumption.

But the benefits go even further than simply capturing this additional benefit. Lean, and in fact any improvement technique, needs to be driven by robust data and analysis, if you don’t measure it, how do you know you have improved it? More manufacturing companies are finding that to reduce energy it needs to be done from the bottom up, to understand where energy is being consumed, and where specific areas are inefficient. There is a realisation that even smart meters and half hourly bills do not provide granularity. Therefore the only practical solution is to monitor individual machines or areas, which is actually relatively inexpensive. Energy data, in return, can be used to drive a number of established lean techniques.

Let’s take the energy data we used in the previous section and understand how it directly helps:

  1. Shows where processes are not balanced (Line Balancing)
  2. Shows where improvements should be focused to release capacity (Theory of Constraints).
  3. Measure the efficiency and effectiveness of a machine (OEE)

Firstly looking at Line Balancing and Theory of Constraints, again we can take the productive time from our previous example and put this with the productive time of the other components of the process (Figure 4).

Figure 4 – Using Energy Data for Line Balancing and Constraint Identification

You can see in Figure 4 that the line is not balanced and therefore parts of the process have capacity and others will be constraining total throughput. The energy data can therefore be used to work on balancing the line.

As you can see energy data will help identify the true constraint in an operation but more powerfully when linked with the overall profile (shown opposite) shows where capacity is actually available. Therefore to undertake the first and simplest step in Theory of Constraints, you can understand how much of an opportunity and capacity will come from exploiting or milking the constraint.

The next example uses energy data to support the measurement of the effectiveness and efficiency of a machine. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a hierarchy of metrics which evaluates and indicates how effectively a manufacturing operation is utilized. Figure 5, shows how energy data from a manufacturing process or machine gives accurate data on its availability. Again without the energy data, capturing availability can be often time consuming and inaccurate.

Figure 5 – Using Energy Data for OEE


With energy costs increasing more systemic and proved mechanisms for improvements need to be employed. Lean has well established tools and techniques that will deliver energy savings and will ensure that any energy focused improvements are not at the expensive of other important business metrics.

By not including energy within lean improvement strategies and programmes, companies are not only often missing additional benefits but also some crucial data that can identify valuable improvement opportunities and where to prioritise focus.

[i] Measure Performance, Environmental Survey 2009, EEF, January 2010

[ii] Lean Manufacturers’ Transcendence to Green Manufacturing, Bergmiller and McCright

[iii] Lean, Energy and Climate Toolkit, Achieving Process Excellence Through Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Reduction, EPA

[iv] The Lean and Environment Toolkit, EPA

Ecopare and Footwork First announce partnership to reduce manufacturers environmental impact

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Ecopare Ltd and Footwork First Ltd today announced a working partnership that will offer an integrated product to help manufacturers reduce their environmental impact.  The package will combine Ecopare’s Lean Energy Management solution with Footwork First’s Envirolean solution.

By combining the two solutions will allow for automatic capture, analysis and reporting of the environmental impact of manufacturing processes with the ability to identify and reduce waste consumption.

The benefit for manufacturers will be in allowing them to become more sustainable through the identification and optimisation of both traditional inputs such as material, labour and machine time with non-core inputs such as energy, water and other commodity materials.

 “In creating this partnership we are providing our manufacturing clients a solution to automatically include environmental impact data as part of Continuous Improvement Programmes,” commented Craig Astfalck, Managing Director of Ecopare.  “With Footwork First’s track record in delivering Lean Manufacturing programmes we are excited to be able to offer this integrated solution.”

David Crowfoot, Director of Footwork First added “Ecopare’s Lean Energy Management solution provides our Envirolean solution with an automated way of collecting real-time environmental impact data across an entire manufacturing process.”

“This gives us the ability to focus on optimising the consumption of all inputs within the process and addressing the true environmental impact of the finished goods.”

The combined solution will be offered to the market place by the end of August 2011 in a limited release format with several clients already expressing interest in using the integrated solution.

About Ecopare

Ecopare is a dynamic new company that specialises in practical Energy Resource Management solutions for the Manufacturing Sector.  Ecopare understands that manufacturers operate in a complex environment where simple energy reduction programmes may not work.  With its Lean Energy Management solution Ecopare is able to help optimise manufacturing process energy consumption to produce an average 21% savings in energy usage.


David from Footwork First talks about a New Approach to Environmental Performance

Monday, December 6th, 2010

David, owner of manufacturing consultants Footwork First, introduces a new method of improving environmental performance based on traditional lean manufacturing that is not just lean and mean but lean and green too. On Manufacturing Digital (, David introduces the process, called Envirolean, which  is built on the principles of Lean and provides a systemic approach for optimising the use of valuable resources and reducing defects in a process or product.

See the article at

A New Approach to Environmental Performance

Monday, November 1st, 2010

A new method of improving environmental performance has been developed by Oxford based consultants Footwork First. The process, called Envirolean, is built on the principles of Lean and provides a systemic approach for optimising the use of valuable resources and reducing defects in a process or product.

The competitive advantage and cost savings associated with environmental improvements are well documented, although for many manufacturers the scale of benefits has not always justified the investment. However, increasing penalties for not making environmental improvements combined with a growing range of solutions now available means that progressive companies are implementing processes such as Envirolean in order to meet both their customers’ and legislative needs.

For many years, Lean Manufacturing has been a recognised practice that delivers improvements in cost, quality and delivery – but the connection between Lean and environmental improvements has only been applied mainly on a theoretical basis. For example, in 2002 an article on Lean and Green was published by Cardiff University (one of the leading academic institutes on Lean Thinking). The Environmental Protection Agency in America has also developed a suite of toolkits on Lean and Green, however Cardiff University recently discovered that although the theoretical connection is clear there has been little practical application.

The foundation of Envirolean is the identification and then reduction of non value adding activity which, either consumes scarce resources such as energy, water and materials, or produces defects in the end product. This is done by measuring the amount of resource that is put in to a process and how much is consumed in the value adding steps of the process until it reaches the customer. By definition everything else is non value adding and should be removed.

Case study: H+H UK

Based in Sevenoaks, Kent, H+H UK is the largest manufacturer of environmentally friendly aircrete blocks, using a highly efficient process which sees most waste material and energy being recycled back into their processes.

Winners of three Sunday Times Green awards, rising from 29th to 9th position at this year’s ceremony and making them the highest placed UK precast concrete company, H+H UK works hard to reduce its energy consumption, ensuring that everything is done to minimise environmental impact.  The company holds ISO 14001 environmental management system, the BES 6001-2008 Standard for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products and continues its involvement with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) South East.

In 2008 H+H UK were awarded certification to the Carbon Trust Standard for efforts to cut carbon emissions – a UK first within the construction industry, and the company is one of the first manufacturers in the country to achieve accreditation of its Integrated Management System (quality, safety, and environment) to PAS 99:2006.

The issue

Having already implemented Lean throughout the company H+H UK were keen to explore other improvement applications – including help to address the issues of the Carbon Reduction Commitment legislation and finding solutions to reduce energy consumption in light of increasing costs.

The solution

Footwork First, in conjunction with MAS SE, examined and mapped out waste from H+H UK’s overall manufacturing processes, from the storage and mixing of the raw materials right through to the packaging, storage and transportation of the final product.  The aim was to help the company understand major sources of waste and where high levels of energy and water were consumed, and to use the results as a basis for the next stages of environmental change and ideas for improvement.

Group problem solving and brainstorming sessions for specific areas and projects were undertaken and three key projects were identified: Slurry Management (a Six Sigma project); Energy Usage (looking particularly at the autoclaves); and Packaging and waste reduction (particularly for the finished product).

Action planning and preliminary scoping for these projects immediately identified potential savings such as:

  • Overall defects reduction
  • Potential 1.4% scrap reduction representing an additional £300k of saleable product.
  • Significant reduction in energy consumption during reprocessing
  • Potential reduction in landfill material (very low anyway due to material being recycled back into manufacturing process)
  • Potential 3% reduction in amount of cement required, equivalent to a reduction in CO2 of 2790te/year

Dr Colin Cook, Chief Scientist, H+H UK Ltd comments: “Ongoing Corporate Social Responsibility for all companies to go ‘green’ has meant that we are committed to continuous environmental improvements – our whole company is focused on minimising environmental impact – across all areas of the business. This latest waste project has highlighted a number of key areas for review that will be worked on in the future, reinforcing our continuing carbon reduction commitment.”

Envirolean in Horticulture

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Although horticulture and agriculture are considerably impacted by environmental and climate change, like elsewhere the sector is being constantly challenged to deliver more environmentally sustainable produce. The economic advantages are considerable, with growing consumer demand for more sustainable produce and increasing regulation eliminating unsustainable practice or making them cost prohibitive (through for example, taxation). Therefore producing more sustainable produce can not only reduce costs, it can be a key differentiator in securing more sales.

Consequently Footwork First have been developing its envirolean products in partnership with Fedden USP who specialise in implementing lean and process improvement in Horticulture trade. The programme uses the core tools and techniques of “lean and process improvement” which at their heart improve customer value and eliminate inefficient practices to enhance environmental performance. Specifically the programme  addresses traditional business performance metrics (quality, cost and delivery) through the application of proven lean tools, and additionally the environmental performance opportunities (reducing both the consumption of energy, material and water and levels of waste).

Initial trials have again shown that the adoption of these techniques gives the dual benefit of environmental performance improvement which can reduce costs or improve the image of the organisation as well as more traditional measure of business improvement (e.g. delivery, cost, quality).

The National Enterprise Academy on BBC News Channel

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Aye Jenyo, Student from the National Enterprise Academy appeared on the BBC News Channel

As Footwork First led the funding aquisition and support the development of products for the National Enterprise Academy since its inception, we are delighted to see students of the academy getting the profile they rightly deserve.

Footwork First support Profit from Low Carbon Footprinting and Lean Design Workshops

Friday, August 20th, 2010

The Manufacturing Advisory Service in the South East has again asked David Crowfoot to join a panel of experts at two regional events. David will bring his expertise in Envirolean to support the workshop and with the MAS SE specialist run a simulation showing the environmental benefits of introducing lean.

This one-day practical workshop will enable businesses to evaluate its operations, products and services along key environmental criterion. Businesses will be able to bring along their product and packaging for evaluation by the expert team and learn how to undertake a carbon footprint and reduce their company’s emissions.

Older People Programme (UK)

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Comic Relief is inviting the voluntary and community sector throughout the UK where older people aged 65+ are developing ideas for action and change, to submit applications through their Older People’s Programme. The programme aims to:

  • Support older people to bring positive change to their community
  • Help older people feel less isolated, especially those who are most excluded such as:
  • black and minority ethnic elders
  • frail older people with mental health needs
  • older carers
  • those on lower incomes.

Examples of the types of projects they will fund include:

  • bringing the generations together to learn from each other through, for example, the creative arts or IT
  • older people acting as a resource to other older people and supporting those who may be less physically and mentally able
  • projects that are engaging hard to reach groups
  • activities which generate profits to further social or environmental goals, such as community cafes run by older people.

Most grants are expected to be of between £15,000 and £40,000 per year. Grants may be for up to 3 years.

The next closing date for applications is the 21st May 2010.