The Wave Solder welding process is broadly used in the electronic industry to attach the components to the electronic boards. It is a much more efficient process than the traditional manual welding and it generates less waste. However, even with this new process the welding still generates about 50% of material waste.
In 2018 Carrier bought about 59,000 pounds of welding material worth above $700 K USD. In 2019, with the implementation of an innovative process of solder recycling, the material waste reduction lead to a 15% decrease in solder consumption with a monetary annual worth of $102 K USD.
The purpose of this Project is to decrease the residual waste the hazardous material. Contributing to the Global Goal #12 Responsible Consumption.
Liliana Gisel Garcia
JESUS HECTOR ELIZONDO CHAVEZ
Jose Adrian Garza Guardado
EGADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey
By design, the process produces 50% solder material waste. Before the innovation the residual wasted solder was deliver to a recycling company that paid $2 per pound, however this implied wasting time and money in the collection and transportation of the material. From the previous process, solder material could be recycled but it wasn’t able to keep all its properties to be introduced again in the solder process as a virgin material. Therefore, the previous recycling process did not impact the demand for virgin solder material in the industry.
With the new recycling process Carrier was allowed to eliminate the carbon footprint coming from transportation and alternate processes in the recycling outsource company.
In addition, the right recycling process enables the recovered material to be introduce again in the solder process in a quicker and more practical way, making it simpler and cleaner.
The recovery process consists on splitting each type of solder and treating each one into its own furnace equipped with heat resistance, temperature controller and agitators that blow air into the molten solder, this is used to separate the true waste (oxides and dross) from the useful material. The initial investment to implement the recycling process was $13 KUSD. The investment was recovered from the very first month of the process implementation.
The recovery process begins on the primary solder process where the generated waste is then allocated in the recovery area, it is poured into its correspondent furnace and then heat until molten point. During melting, Carrier uses a surfactant product called MS2, after that point the mixing process helps the material to segregate oxides into a final dross mass. The generated dross is about 20% of the initial material weight, and the remaining 80% becomes recovered soler.
The recovered material is then tried by X-rays and spectrometer tests to ensure the alloy can be use the same as virgin solder material and that it can be introduced again in the operation process.
Once the test is approved, it is used just as new solder.
We are discovering that cleaner, simpler and environmentally friendly processes will always foster growth in a sustainable way. Economic growth for companies in tough industries does not have to rely anymore on predatory practices that end up hurting the environment.
“UTC is fully committed to the sustainability of its products and its processes and we are invited to always seek that our processes are sustainable, that we do not contaminate and to seek the best way for projects or processes in the security part to be safe and sustainable”
In Carrier, they believe there is a better way of continuing business.
Solder is a common raw material utilized in electronics manufacturers. The world price usually is considerably high so the cost opportunity by decreasing the solder consumption is significant.
Based on company internal studies, on average electronic companies throw, by wave solder process design, above 50% of the solder consumption, which generates a direct impact in the company earnings and in the environment. It was very common in the industry to sale the waste generated to recycler companies which need to pay additional freight and do alternative process to recover the solder. To have in house recovery process eliminate the necessity of double transportation and alternative process, a simple recovery process can allow to avoid a significant impact to our environment. Also, the incorporation to this recovery process right from the wave solder process is much more efficient in the use of resources such as electricity, direct labor and other manufacturing conversion costs.
The industry in general need to change dramatically its processes which by design generate such level of waste have an impact directly to our environment and financials of every company. Alternative process or incorporation of secondary process as the recovery process is a great opportunity to mitigate the inefficiency of this process. However, the world and the industry are forced to eliminate/decrease their impact to environment – in addition, this change will be profitable to companies.
Also, there are additional benefits generated by having this recovery process as companies are able to improve efficiency in production lines and reduce lead times which by consequence generate factory productivity.
The recovery process represented an investment of $13 K USD for Carrier, however, reducing the waste and recovering solder material generated savings of three times that cost only in the first month, about $40 K USD. This first month savings were increased due to the accumulated residuals from past months. In a regular operation, savings are between $8 and $10 KUSD per month.
“… the generation of all the dross that we threw and we sent to confinement or was sent to another place was drastically reduced. All the dross generated instead of being for every 100 kilos was now 20, and in that year when we started the process, productivity highly increased compared to the previous year”
Additional impact was generated by decreasing the carbon footprint for transportation and disposition of a hazardous material.
All the team members work in the industry, and sometimes we get the feeling that money is more important than processes, environmental impact or even people. However, by proving that sustainable manufacturing processes are the only way to grow business in an ethical way we can turn resources such as investment to fund these best practices. It is in the hands of the new generations to turn the businesses of the future to be both profitable and sustainable.
Hector Iduma, Sustainable Welding
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Navojoa, Sonora, MX
Business Website: https://www.carrier.com.mx/
Year Founded: 1915
Number of Employees: 10000+
Carrier Fire & Security Mexico, part from the parent Company United Techonologies Corporation (UTX), is a public enterprise operating in the following fields:
● Otis (Lifts)
Our story is focus on the Carrier division, with Head Quarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Its main activity is to provide air conditioning and refrigeration solutions as well as safety products such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, alarms, among others.
Carrier plants are all around the world but our innovation was born in the manufacturing facilities placed in Sonora, Mexico, whose main activity is to manufacture safety products. One of the primary processes in these facilities is Wave Solder, a welding process, where they have found a way to recycle their primary material eliminating waste and consuming less.