The main objective of innovation management is to foster and support the creation of attractive products and bring them to market while reducing technical and commercial risks. But the simple economic mantra is no longer enough. In recent years, sustainability has become a new guiding principle for companies. The question now is how to integrate sustainability and innovation management in a practical context. What are the practical implications of creating “eco-innovations”, i.e. successful and environmentally friendly products?
THE CHALLENGE AS AN OPPORTUNITY: SUSTAINABILITY AS A CHANNEL FOR INNOVATION
Let’s take an example: the application of solar thermal technology in an industrial environment, in a paint shop. Paint shops are facilities for the production of surface coatings. Such a coating, often paint, can physically protect a surface and give it an attractive appearance.
In the automotive industry, a paint shop involves many different steps, such as cleaning, degreasing, dip coating, drying and curing, spray coating and quality control. These processes require energy in various forms: primarily electricity and process heat. Overall, a paint shop consumes up to 70% of the energy required to build a motor vehicle. Paint shops are, therefore, at the center of attention when it comes to calling for greater sustainability in automotive production.
Today, the increased sustainability of production processes can be achieved by various means, including the use of renewable energy for process heat. In an automotive paint shop, process heat is used in various processes. For example, it is needed in immersion baths, which are used for the application of corrosion protection in the so-called pre-treatment process.
IN PRACTICE: HOW ECOLOGY PAYS OFF
Solar thermal solutions can provide the energy for this. EISENMANN AG and Ritter XL Solar supply solar heating systems for large-scale industrial projects (as part of the “green alliance for sustainable production”). Ritter supplies its high-performance evacuated tube solar collectors and Eisenmann, as a system supplier, integrates the technology into the paint shop processes.
Both companies have developed a technical concept to use the hot water from the solar thermal modules to supply process heat. This concept has already been implemented at a customer site in Switzerland. In the paint shop of the customer Zehnder, 80 evacuated tube collectors were installed on an area of 400 square meters. With a solar output of 220 kilowatts, Zehnder can save up to 50% of its annual consumption of LPG (gas) and thus increase its use of renewable energy.
In this example, an eco-innovation has been created with clear benefits for the customer and a positive impact on the company and the environment. The most important success factors for the implementation of this eco-innovation are
a detailed understanding of the system and processes in which the solution is integrated (in this case, the customer’s existing paint shop),
the early integration of sustainability aspects in the evaluation of the developed alternative solution concepts,
successful collaboration between Ritter XL Solar as a technology provider and Eisenmann AG as a system integrator.
Ultimately, the results obtained could prove a value for the customer on the one hand and show the impact on sustainability on the other.
BICARBONATE, WHITE VINEGAR, BLACK SOAP AND LEMON
Rather than buying a lot of cleaning products, a few basic ingredients make it possible to do a real green cleaning:
Baking soda: it is effective in removing dirt, whitening toilets, deodorizing carpets and rugs, softening laundry, fighting limescale or even fighting mold;
White vinegar: used diluted in water or combined with bicarbonate, it cleans everything in the kitchen, from the cutting board to the faucets and dishes. It can also be used as a window cleaner, removes limescale and scale and makes silverware shine;
Lemon: added to salt, lemon juice cleans bronze objects and leather. It also eliminates germs in the kitchen or bathroom, eliminates bad odors and removes stains from clothes;
Black soap: natural and non-toxic, it is perfect for cleaning floor tiles, extractor hoods and glass-ceramic plates. It removes tar, shines silver and copper and repels insects in the garden.
RECIPE FOR HOME CLEANERS
To make an eco-friendly multi-purpose cleaner that will serve the whole house, simply mix one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of white vinegar in one liter of hot water and mix well.
To make a 100% natural window cleaner, add one part white vinegar to about six parts water and, if necessary, add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Mix it all together and use it in a spray bottle.
You can also make a homemade insecticide by pouring 10 to 20 ml of soap, as much baking soda and 10 to 30 ml of baby oil into a liter of water. Be sure to mix the preparation well before using it.