Merit Steel – Kouts, IN

Merit Steel began the Eco Initiative Program in June 2012, and obtained registration in January 2014. The facility set a goal to be the first Leggett & Platt Wire Mill to become Eco Initiative-registered.

One of the first and most obvious Eco Initiative projects was recycling. Paper, bottles, cardboard, cans, and used aerosols were found on a regular basis in the trash. Recycling bins were placed around the plant as well as in the offices to combat this.

To reduce air emissions from the facility, a new, more-efficient acid fume scrubber was installed on the sulfuric acid cleaning line.

To reduce scrap metal generation, the team implemented a black belt project to identify causes of non-conforming wire generation. By identifying production inefficiencies, scrap has been reduced by more than 30% in the addressed process. This has resulted in a scrap reduction of more than 60 tons per year.

Eco Initiative team members took Merit Steel’s ECO Program on the road and reached out to the Hebron Grade School. Information was presented to students about the sustainability projects being implemented at Merit Steel. The team members also challenged the kids to get involved with recycling and to see what they could do to become more eco-friendly.

Goals are currently being developed for 2015, but the facility set the following goals for 2014:

  • Reduce paper consumption by 24,000 sheets in 2014.
    • Facility inspection forms were consolidated (one sheet for 30 days, rather than 30 sheets).
    • Team members were asked to only print out information relevant to them for all meetings (Steering Team, Eco Team, etc.).
  • Reduce electric usage by installing LED lights in place of T8s, installing motion sensors, and training employees in best practices.
    • Project is still being evaluated for cost and estimated savings.
    • Sample lights were placed in the cleaning area to determine longevity when exposed to acrid conditions, as well as lighting quality.
    • Stickers were placed on light switches to remind employees to use best practices and turn off lights when not in use.
  • Reduce helix nonprime by 30%.
    • Black belt project identified four individual machines that generated 50% of the rejected materials.
    • Improved production efficiency to minimize the amount of rod that is off-spec and must be sent off as scrap.