For more than four decades, ACH Foam Technologies in Fond du Lac has been an industry leader in providing expanded polystyrene (EPS) products for the construction, geotechnical and packaging industries.  The company’s focus on sustainability is reflected in environmentally friendly products that contain recyclable materials.  The EPS insulation produced by ACH is used in nationwide LEED certified projects because its higher R-Value helps to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the past seven years, WMEP has worked with ACH Foam Technologies on workplace safety, quality and ISO 9001 certification projects.  The company was eager to learn about the Wisconsin Profitable Sustainability Initiative (PSI) pilot program developed by WMEP and its partners last year.

PSI is a state-funded program to accelerate the adoption of sustainability strategies by small and midsize manufacturers.  The goal is to help participants reduce costs, gain competitive advantage and minimize environmental impacts.  PSI brings together a team of energy, environmental, logistics and lean experts to work with manufacturers to identify and implement improvements.  Projects are prioritized based on business needs, fast payback and high ROI.

Jacob Huempfner, Director of Operations Support at ACH Foam, realized PSI could provide the resources to resolve an ongoing process issue.  Huempfner chose to focus on a heat recovery and transfer project so that the heat generated by one process could be transferred and utilized to provide a stable room temperature for another stage in the process. According to Huempfner, the basic production process for EPS involves four stages, pre-expansion, bead conditioning, molding and finally, fabrication.  Seasonal temperature changes affect the consistency of the product as it moves from the bead conditioning room to the molding process so this portion of the process became the focus of the project.

The PSI diagnostic revealed an opportunity for savings.  “Using funds from the PSI program, ACH developed a ventilation system that took the excess heat from the boiler room and used it to stabilize temperatures in the bead conditioning room,” said Randy Bertram, WMEP’s PSI program director. This single change produced better than anticipated results, including a reduction in cycle time, higher throughput, avoidance of additional energy costs and increased quality.

The Profitable Sustainability Initiative delivered savings for ACH Foam as follows:

  • Reduced Mold Cycle Time Savings: $93,903
  • Energy Cost Avoidance:  $3,373
  • Total: $97,276

Environmental Impact:

  • Avoidance of 4,620 therms of natural gas
  • Avoidance of 23 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents

“ACH Foam Technologies is committed to continually improving our sustainability profile,” said Huempfner. “Participation in the PSI project assisted ACH in accomplishing this by identifying sustainable projects in the diagnostic step, quantifying the benefits and costs during the assessment, and finally realizing the sustainable benefits through implementation.”

PSI delivered savings for ACH:

  • Reduced Mold Cycle Time Savings: $93,903
  • Energy Cost Avoidance:  $3,373
  • Total: $97,276

ACHSuccess PDF