ASSA ABLOY is committed to providing products and services that are environmentally sound throughout the entire production process and the product life cycle.
The ASSA ABLOY Australia Pty Limited Environmental Policy has been established to align with the ASSA ABLOY Global Environment Policy. By supporting the implementation of these policy documents, ASSA ABLOY employees (and our suppliers and partners) will help ensure that we create a sustainable future.
Download a PDF Version of the ASSA ABLOY Environmental Policy.
The organisation strives to achieve reductions in gas, electricity and water consumption in all applications on their sites. Processes are constantly reviewed and potential “high usage” situations are identified, with likely remedies trialled and tested until improvement is noted.
Two of the highest users of electricity at ASSA ABLOY Australia’s Oakleigh site are the zinc diecasting machine (Techmire) and the plastic injection moulding machine. Both require a considerable amount of power as their main function is to heat material; either zinc or plastic, in order for it to change state from solid to liquid. Following vigorous investigations and various trials of adjusting properties on the Techmire machine, a solution was established. Technology was identified that could allow for similar melting properties to be achieved while using a lower wattage to heat the heating elements of the Techmire. This improvement required the previous heating elements to be removed and replaced by lower wattage elements. Initial analysis has shown a significant reduction in the energy required to operate this machine. Unlike the Techmire whose changes allowed for improvement whilst the machine operates at a lower wattage, the injection moulding machine required an insulating jacket/blanket to be wrapped around its main heating area. This simple yet effective change decreases the power required to warm the heating area of the moulding machine and also reduces the amount of energy required to maintain the required temperature levels. This is due to the fact that the blanket reduces the amount of heat which is lost to its surroundings (ie it insulates).
Therefore heating of this machine is achieved at a quicker pace and requires reheating less often. ASSA ABLOY recognises that a culture of sustainability is one which is progressive in that its staff hold shared assumptions and beliefs about the importance of balancing economic efficiency, social equity and environmental accountability.
One significant project which occurred progressively from 2005 to 2007, was the replacement of hexavalent chromium with trivalent chromium. ASSA ABLOY Australia had used Hexavalent Chromium (Hexavalent) as part of their electroplating process for approximately 30 years. This substance has historically been the standard compound used in the metal finishing industry for decorative finishing of zinc and brass. The issue was that hexavalent chromium is a known human carcinogen. Additionally, hexavalent chromium is a corrosive (Class 8) dangerous good with an oxidising sub-risk (Class 5).
Due to these concerns, there were international trends away from using hexavalent chromium that were embraced by ASSA ABLOY globally. This led to investigations into alternate compounds. It was determined that the Trivalent Chromium (Trivalent) process would be the most suitable replacement. Trivalent chrome electroplating was being used extensively for decorative finishing in the automotive industry and has become a proven technology in the past several years; with the added benefit of being much less hazardous to humans, as well as more environmentally friendly.
A series of trials were conducted to identify the correct process parameters that would satisfy customer requirements. The greatest hurdle to the project was ensuring that parts plated from the two processes were able to be colour matched. This initially proved to be difficult however, after numerous adjustments to the plating baths a successful outcome was achieved. With the elimination of Hexavalent Chromium, a number of significant improvements were realised, including:
- the elimination of a carcinogenic substance from production
- the reduction of process chemicals required as Trivalent Chromium is only required at a ratio of 1:10 compared to Hexavalent Chromium and
- the resulting waste from the Trivalent Chromium process being significantly easier and cost effective to treat.
These improvements have a flow-on effect of increased production and a significant drop in the reject rate due to poor finishing. This change also assisted with future projects such as the installation of a metal precipitation treatment plant at the Oakleigh site.
Further to this, an alternative pre-treatment process for powder coated hardware was investigated that would meet or exceed the existing phosphate and hexavalent chrome pre-treatment processes. A trivalent chromium alternative has been developed that exceeds the performance of a phosphate process and meets the performance of the hexavalent chromium process. This chemistry has been installed in the pre-treatment process for the powder coat line at the ASSA ABLOY Oakleigh site and provides a break through alternative for pre-treatment of zinc castings before powder coating. In addition, the coating performs well as a corrosion inhibitor on non-decorative cast components such as internal lock components that are not given any additional coating or protection before assembly.
These projects required the involvement of cross functional teams with local expertise at Brisbane, Melbourne and Auckland. The changes were a triumph of collaboration and a significant environmental step forward for ASSA ABLOY as a global leader within the industry.