Flex-O-Lators – Carthage, MO

Flex-O-Lators is an ISO 14001 facility and became an Eco Initiative registered facility in 2014. In addition to general recycling activities, the facility has implemented the following sustainability projects:

  • The facility targeted an increase in overall facility equipment efficiency, thus reducing energy consumption and waste generation. This was achieved through the use of Vision System – a digital monitoring system that helps catch defects earlier in the production process.
  • Paper reduction efforts have reduced office paper usage by almost 17%. Several departments at the facility are now completely paperless.
  • The facility installed an additional storage silo for plastic resin. The ecological benefit of the silo is that it will eliminate 715 cardboard gaylords per year. The savings from the cardboard will pay for the silo in less than two years. An existing silo previously eliminated about 607 cardboard gaylords per year.
  • Flex-O-Lators uses returnable packaging whenever possible to eliminate waste and reduce costs. It is estimated that they will ship over 33,000 returnable totes during 2015. Returnable packaging is a win-win, as it minimizes packaging costs and reduces the landfill waste generation of Flex-O-Lators’ customers.
  • The facility is now changing oil in operating equipment based on the condition of the oil, rather than a maintenance schedule. Oil samples are sent to a certified lab to determine its condition. Oil is then changed when the trend shows it is heading out of specification. The testing has shown the oil can last three times longer than what the oil manufacturer guarantees, which has resulted in fewer oil changes and purchased oil. Another benefit of testing is that it notifies the branch of the condition of the machines based on the particles in the oil. New oil purchases decreased by 32%.
  • Flex-O-Lators uses hundreds of pneumatic and hydraulic actuators throughout the plant on their machinery. In most cases, a bad one can be repaired instead of being thrown away. The repair cost is usually less than 15% of what it would cost to purchase a new actuator. Last year, the facility repaired over 650 pneumatic and hydraulic actuators.

The facility set the following goals for 2016:

  • Reduce excessive air compressor horsepower usage due to air leaks by 40% by repairing leaks on machines by replacing air hoses and fittings as leaks are detected.
  • Reduce energy usage throughout the facility by replacing fluorescent lighting with LED lighting.
  • Reduce wire waste by 1% of sales by eliminating wire trimming on the FG2 tool sets. These machines produce approximately 5,000,000 parts per year and each part has 2.5” of wire cut as trimming. This could eliminate 12.5 million inches of wire waste per year.
  • Reduce landfill-bound waste by 15% by looking at ways to recycle plastic (bottles, over-mold purge, customer corrugated plastic dividers, and extruded plastic scrap), aluminum cans, paper rope, batteries, printer cartridges, writing instruments, and cigarette butts.
  • Reduce the amount of office paper used by 12,500 sheets by storing SDS sheets on the network for electronic use instead of paper storage. Additionally, eliminate the variance sheets on the production floor for the Q machines.
  • Reduce the need to purchase new replacement parts by disassembling and inventorying parts from obsolete machines stored at the Big Smith facility.
  • Reduce the need to order and store excess cardboard boxes by implementing an in-house box-making machine – completed.
  • Reduce energy use and waste from variance in colorant mixtures on the plastic injection molding machines.
  • Reduction of disposable wood pallets used to transport materials to and from local L&P facilities through the implementation of alternative material re-usable pallets.

In addition to the above accomplishments, the facility is also very active in their community:

  • The facility adopted a section of highway and quarterly employees volunteer their time to clean up trash.
  • In April, employees handed out trees to the community during a “Drive By Treeing” event at the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center. During this event, Toni Hayes was interviewed by the local news station and the interview was aired on the nightly news.
  • During Halloween, employees’ children trick-or-treated the offices. Children were given green Eco cups and told about the Eco Initiative program.
  • The facility has worked with the following schools to promote their Eco Initiative program with their students:
    • Missouri Southern State University’s Industrial Engineering program
      • Employees visited the campus and discussed adding environmental management / awareness to the program’s curriculum.
    • Carthage High School’s Technical School students
      • Students toured the facility and were informed about the Eco Initiative program.
    • Missouri State Universities’ MBA students
      • Students toured the facility and were informed about the Eco Initiative program.
  • The facility has partnered with the City of Carthage to provide 50 33-gallon trash cans for the fall Maple Leaf festival. The trash cans will display Flex-O-Lators logo and the Eco Initiative logo.
  • The facility was recognized through MODOT and the Missouri Department of Conservation’s No More Trash! Bash program.
  • The facility donated their old office furniture to Habitat for Humanity, which kept waste out of the landfill and helped the community.