Industrial Utility Efficiency

BeyondZero™ Sustainability at SKF

How does SKF define Sustainability?

The guiding concept is to make business decisions that our grandchildren will be proud of. We define sustainability as “SKF Care”. SKF Care is a guiding principle for everyone at SKF. It has four dimensions - Business Care, Environmental Care, Employee Care, and Community Care. Business Care’s goals are ensuresto achieve a we have strong financial performance. and the right returns for our shareholders. Environmental Care focuses on reducing our negative impact on the environment – ours and our customers. Employee Care is about having a safe, rewarding and respectful working environment and improving the health and education offor our employees. Community Care focuses on playing an active and positive role in the communities in which we operate. I look at sustainability as making decisions that our grandchildren won’t regret.

What does BeyondZero™ mean?

The BeyondZero™ initiative was launched in 2005 to challenge the limitations of conventional environmental targets and become the role model for sustainability in the industry. Most Many environmental targets aim to reduce negative environmental impacts down to “zero” net CO2 emissions. BeyondZero™ aims to help our customers and external partners become more energy efficient and, in combination with our internal efforts, to reduce negative environmental impacts, so as to go beyond the zero target.

Another way to say this, with respect to CO2 emissions, is that if you take SKF’s global CO2 footprint and compare it to the CO2 reductions that our customers receive by working with our products and services – then the result should will be a positive number - BeyondZero™. This message has been very well communicated globally to all staff employees and managers to guide their actions. It is a simple but powerful concept which can be easily translated and understood in our operations around the world.

Please describe SKF.

SKF was founded in 1907 and was already well-established around the worldin all continents [is this correct? Antarctica?] by 1920. Today, SKF is represented directly in more than 130 countries and operates more than one hundred manufacturing facilities around the globe. We are supported by close to 15,000 distributor locations..

Our focus is on technical development and innovation leadership. In 2008, the number of first filings of patent applications was 179. In addition to our world-class product offerings, SKF can also develop technologiesdeliver application solutions which are tailor madet for our customers, and based in our five areas of core technical competence. We group the our technologies into five platforms:

  • Bearings and bearing units
  • Seals
  • Mechatronics
  • Services
  • Lubrication Systems

SKF has supplied products, services and solutions to customers in all major industry sectors. We combine our technical expertise, global sales and service networks, and intimate knowledge of our customers’ industries, to deliver integrated application solutions that help our customers become more effective and successful. We call this ‘Knowledge Engineering.'

We have three customer-focused divisions at SKF which deliver the tailor-made technologies to more than forty customer segments. The divisions are Automotive, Industrial OEM, and Service. Customer segments include automotive, wind energy, railway, machine tool, medical, food & beverage, mining and metals, chemical, HPI and paper industries.

How is BeyondZero™ reducing CO2 emissions at SKF factories?

SKF has voluntarily publicly reported all direct and some indirect CO2 emissions resulting from manufacturing operations since 2002. The first CO2 emission reduction target was defined to aim for a 10% reduction†by 2007 (compared with 2002). This target was successfully accomplished by 2005 with a 13% reduction in CO2 emissions, even though production volume increaseds.

Hence, a new target was established in 2006 to achieve an annual minimum 5% reduction in CO2 emissions irrespective of production volume increases. In 2008, SKF reached an absolute reduction of 50,000 tons of CO2 emissions, or 9.1% compared to the 2007 total, surpassing the target by some 4 percentage points. It is worth noting that†the total Group's CO2 emissions from Q1†to Q3 2008 were reduced by more than 5% compared to the same quarters of 2007, despite higher production volumes. It is worth noting that these are net or over-all CO2 numbers and goals - not intensity ratios.

What actions are being taken to reduce direct emissions at SKF?

SKF focuses on energy intensity and carbon intensity in our efforts to reduce our own direct emissions of CO2. Energy intensity works on reducing the energy used at our own facilities. Carbon intensity refers to the CO2 emissions generated by our power suppliers.

All SKF sites with significant energy use (more than 0.2 GWh per year) have a designated energy coordinator who is responsible for running energy-saving activities at the site. An energy management training scheme, aimed specifically at the site energy coordinators, was rolled out throughout SKF in 2008 to provide the knowledge and resources required to deploy effective energy management at SKF.

We are now very focused on the cost reduction benefits of our energy intensity efforts. Realizing that we have a significant need for compressed air in every plant worldwide and that compressed air is one of the The most consistent consumers of energy across our facilities,we are focusing on optimizing the compressed air systems. We have a significant need for compressed air in every plant worldwide. Some plants have a big HVAC load, some a large thermal load, and some a significant pumping load - but every plant has a significant compressed air load.

  "Compressed aAir is the most consistent significant energy consumer in our worldwide facilities." - Mike Roberts, SKF    

How are you addressing compressed air related savings opportunities?

We have more than 100 factories and facilities in130 countries. Our fifteen “Best Practice Factories” have really adopted comprehensive compressed air monitoring and analysis programs. Compressed air is significant and measurable in every one of our plants and it is something we focus on. While most factories have addressed compressed air in different ways, like a number of our of plants, the potential remains for significant energy savings in compressed air.

In our “Best Practices plants,”, they have athere is a dedicated PLC-based automated compressor control system automating and monitoring the system. It is a continuous monitoring system allowing them to analyze and trend things like:

  • Eenergy consumption/cost per unit of compressed air
  • Unit of compressed air consumed per unit of production output
  • Energy Compressed air cost per unit of output

As a first step, we focus on surveying the demand side of the system and start with air leaks. Not all of our plants operate 24/7. When production is not operating, we can measure compressed air consumption by data logging air compressor energy consumption – this is the best way to identify the magnitude of overall facility leaks. We then focus our activities to looking for leaks using leak detectors. We prefer using the flow meters with thermal-dispersion and mass-flow technology.

We also look at ways to reduce system pressure. We start as far away as possible from the compressor in most demanding applications. We look at receivers and we look at distribution/piping. We are well aware of the “dirty thirty” – which is the last thirty feet of piping before an application where so many issues can be identified. Sometimes it’s a red hose with shut-off valves that don’t work, are old, and have leaky connections.

Inappropriate uses of compressed air are also reviewed. We look to see what demand-side pneumatics can be converted to mechatronics. Mechatronics is the appropriate replacement of pneumatic devices with electro-mechanical devices. The important word here is appropriate. Even though the energy costs of mechatronics can be 10% of the cost of pneumatics – there are many applications where only pneumatic devices will work properly. Only when a facility has a good handle on the demand side of the system do we begin to look at the supply side.

SKF Quick Facts

Employees: 44,800
Sales: \$7+ Billion (USD)
110 factories
Employees: 4,360
Sales: \$1.4+ Billion (USD)
19 factories

What is the function of your group within SKF?

We are the Energy and Sustainability Management (ESM) team. We are part of the SKF Reliability System Services Group within the Service Division. We are helping both SKF facilities and SKF customers develop processes to manage energy and to identify energy savings. We have developed the Client Needs Analysis - Energy & Sustainability (CNA-ES) tool to begin the process of comprehensive energy management.

Please describe the SKF Client Needs Analysis – Energy & Sustainability (CNA-ES)

The CNA-ES tool came from the successful tradition established at SKF by the use of the CNA-AM (Asset Management) process. The CNA-AM process has focused on monitoring and advanced maintenance of rotating equipment. Clients have been using SKF bearings for optimal asset management performance for over 100 years. Condition monitoring and asset efficiency is the key elemeint in our SKF Reliability System Services offerings. This is a big part of the Service Division and we measure for vibration and alignment issues with a focus on mechanical reliability. Our people started and soon realized that relilability and energy efficiency are just two sides of the same coin -- and that led us to development of the thinking there are similarities to Energy & Sustainability and this provided the backbone and process to create the CNA-ES process.

The CNA-ES tool is a consultative process made up by of a series of forty questions. The questions are delivered in four segments with ten questions in each facet. Working with SKF, they help a facility conduct a structured investigation of their energy and sustainability practices. The four facets segments are:

  • Energy and Environmental Management
  • Energy Efficiency Tools
  • Energy-Efficient Operations
  • Environmental Controls

When we review the forty questions, we sit down with a team of people from the production facility. Managers from the maintenance, operations, financial, and environmental groups all come together in the room. We bring an SKF account manager who knows their business, a meeting CANA-ES facilitator, and a manager from our energy & sustainability group.

What are the four segments of the CNA-ES tool?

The first segment of the CNA-ES tool is a general review of energy and environmental practices at the facility. This examines how a facility is organized, e.g. is there is an energy policy, and an energy champion at the facility?. One classic situation we had was where the question was “do you have a written energy policy”? The plant manager said “absolutely” and the maintenance manager said “we do”? The issue here was that the program had not been effectively communicated.

The second segment of the CNA-ES tool examines the techniques being used to manage energy. Is energy consumption monitored and tracked for different processes in the facility?

Segment three digs into whether specific processes have been optimized with energy reductions. One of the simplest things people can do is understand when they can turn off equipment. If the major piece of equipment “A” is shut down - can you shut down the auxiliary systems too? We find that the auxiliary machines are normally kept running and consuming electricity. Routine operating procedures usually discuss start-up and shut-down processes. We don’t often see operating procedures that deal with what to do during production interruptions. During facet three we take answers to these questions and benchmark them to other production facilities where we’ve previously asked these questions before.

Segment four relates to environmental controls. How do they measure and manage effluent emissions and lubricant disposal? Do they measure CO2 emissions and how do they do it? Do they use GRI guidelines? Having a firm (and written) environmental policy with a clear understanding and philosophy behind it is important.

What is the biggest challenge for energy efficiency?

Energy awareness is the largest opportunity discovered by CNA-ES process. Energy awareness within the plant - all the way down to the shop floor is the main issue. That perhaps is missed more than anything. It’s similar to where Plant Safety was many years ago. Plant Safety has gone through generations of change and evolution. Now most operations begin every meeting with a Safety Minute. Safety is visible to every employee today and it has become a normal part of everyone’s job. We predict the same evolution will happen with Energy Awareness and management in every company over the coming years.

What can all companies do to drive awareness to the shop floor?

Posters and banners, without substance, are not enough. You must educate plant personnel and give them measurement data showing the result of their efforts. You do this with a continuing educational effort.

We have developed “Shop Floor Awareness” cards. Employees can use them in a crew meeting to have an “Energy Minute” and to talk about energy. They are flash cards which talk about the basics of how energy enters the facility, what it is used for and what it costs.

Then we get into pumping systems, compressed air, and leak detection. ODR (Operator Driven Reliability) is a program where operators can take greater responsibility for the health and efficiency of their equipment. They can also take responsibility for energy costs - they know best where the connections are that leak. It’s important that you then IMMEDIATELY fix the leaks or the operator will say, “why should I bother to find the leaks if they don’t get fixed”.

Another area is pumping systems. We try to get each facility to look at the system rather than just its components, such as the presence of a premium efficient motor on a pump. We want to look more at the application. You can have the world’s most efficient pump, but if you can turn it off, it will consume less energy!

  "We define sustainability as 'SKF Care.' SKF Care is a guiding principle for everyone at SKF. It has four dimensions - Business Care, Environmental Care, Employee Care and Community Care." - Mike Roberts, SKF    

Thank you for your insights.

For more information contact Rod Smith, Compressed Air Best Practices, email:,