Makeup Lessons With an Automaker

DOE’s ‘Better Buildings Challenge SWAP’ features L’Oréal and General Motors
Apr 26, 2018 3:10 PM ET
Blog

Our vision includes a world with zero emissions. While we have made great progress in improving energy efficiency at our global operations, we can’t get there alone. It’s important that we work together both internally and with other energy efficiency leaders to identify new opportunities for improvement and realize our goals.

That’s why we were excited to participate in Season Four of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) “Better Buildings Challenge SWAP.” In the recently launched online video series, the DOE matched us with the global cosmetics giant L’Oréal USA to help each company gain new insights, save money and improve energy performance.

The SWAP concept is simple and we have used it internally for more than a decade. Each company swaps energy management teams that then tour the other’s facility to identify ways to reduce energy use and improve productivity.

What can a makeup manufacturer and a personal mobility company teach other? A great deal more than you would think. From transitioning to LED lighting, shutting down equipment that’s not in use and managing compressed air to sharing employee engagement programs that empower local teams to drive improvements, both companies were winners in Season Four.

“Once we got past the difference in footprint and scale at L’Oréal’s North Little Rock plant in Arkansas, we quickly found areas for improvement along with best practices we could take back to Detroit,” said Al Hildreth, Global Energy manager and lead for the GM SWAP team. “At a million-unit-a-day production rate, the L’Oréal team demonstrated that manufacturing complexity doesn’t have to impede efficiency.”

At our Detroit-Hamtramck plant, where the Chevrolet Volt and Impala, Cadillac CT6 and Buick LaCrosse are built, we shared how sustainability is core to our operations.

“We really benefited from General Motors’ fresh perspective and their expertise in performing energy ‘treasure hunts,’ which are standard practice in GM’s plants,” said Carlos Ruiz Rabago, senior vice president of Manufacturing North America, L’Oréal. “I can’t wait to create a similar program at L’Oréal to continue to push our sustainability forward.”

Here are some of the other best practices we shared:

Always be monitoring.

As the saying goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Nowhere is that more true than in energy efficiency. At Detroit-Hamtramck, we have an Energy Management System that allows us to track our use of steam, electricity, natural gas and water around the clock, from anywhere. The powerful tool allows us to identify problem areas and keep track of what’s working.

Share with others.

Best practice sharing and working with our communities pays off. For example, our Detroit-Hamtramck facility is heated by steam we buy from a nearby waste-to-energy plant. In return, we’re able to send back the condensate. Our ability to share resources creates savings for everyone.

Don’t see things for what they are, but what they could be.

There are resources all around us, if we’re willing to see them. At Detroit-Hamtramck, we have our own pond system to collect rainwater that we use in our cooling towers and to make high-purity paint-shop water. We also have an on-site 30 KW solar array that, coupled with a neighboring 516 KW array owned by DTE Energy, provides 10 percent of our fixed facility electricity demand.

While we’re still evaluating all that we learned at L’Oréal and as part of the “Better Buildings Challenge SWAP,” we are sure a number of ideas will make it to our global operations. That is why we enjoy being part of the program. We get to share our best practices and learn from other plants that are implementing impactful energy efficiency measures.

For more on Season Four of the “DOE Better Buildings Challenge SWAP,” click here.

To learn how sustainability is part of General Motors’ business model and core to our operations, view our Sustainability Report.  Visit L’Oréal USA to see how the company is making sustainability personal.