As climate change measures have now become the most important issue for many companies, various hurdles have been highlighted, particularly in the manufacturing industry, such as the difficulty of developing a unity of purpose across an entire company, including the plants, and project promotion and coordination based on the different circumstances at each plant.
In “Murata Promotes Climate Change Measures – Group-wide Initiatives,” we introduce the climate change measures being implemented across the entire Murata Group. However, in this section we will focus on the initiatives at Kanazu Murata Manufacturing, which is the first Group plant to achieve “100% renewable energy” to introduce the factors and key points that led to the success of the project through interviews with project members Yasuhiro Shimizu and Takanori Sakai from Kanazu Murata Manufacturing and Satoshi Mukai from the New Business Development Division.
1. A project that developed from the “autonomous and decentralized spirit” to become a “company-wide” initiative
In “Murata Promotes Climate Change Measures – Group-wide Initiatives,” Katsuma and Fujiwara from the Environment Department identified the “autonomous and decentralized spirit” and “company-wide” application as key points. Based on these two key phrases, let us take a close look at the specific initiative of Kanazu Murata Manufacturing.
Sakai: “Located in Awara, Fukui Prefecture, Kanazu Murata Manufacturing handles the manufacture of microwave coaxial connectors, DC modules, high-voltage resistors, storage battery systems, etc. Our strengths lie in mounting on substrates, and we conduct various types of manufacturing from microscopic components of about 1 mm to large-size products that are about 100 kg.”
Shimizu: “To date, the plant has been involved with 33 different types of products, which is a number that surpasses other Murata plants. It can be said that Kanazu Murata Manufacturing's flexibility and ability to create a wide range of products is one of its strengths. In addition, the plant has had a strong environmental awareness for some time, such as promoting tree-planting activities on the plant grounds, utilizing the all-in-one battery energy storage system that Kanazu Murata Manufacturing produces, and questioning whether some kind of climate change measures could be implemented and if there was something that we should be doing. It was under such thinking that a plan to increase the utilization rate of renewable energy became plant policy and was the starting point to becoming a 100% renewable energy plant.”
2. A sense of unity that was born from a project of many firsts as the team advanced toward the goal
The first initiative started at the end of 2018. Shimizu reflects on how beginning with a small start was key to achieving the goal of a 100% renewable energy plant.
Shimizu: “First, we decided to begin by making a small start from what was possible at Kanazu Murata Manufacturing and installed 230-kW solar panels on the roof of the plant and a 46-kWh all-in-one battery energy storage system inside the building. At the same time, in order to disseminate within the plant the direction that Kanazu Murata Manufacturing should aim for as one through the project, we decided to engage in activities that tied together the six activities of ‘Manufacturing focused on standards to the future,’ ‘Health and safety first,’ ‘Prioritize quality, and always KAIZEN,’ ‘Enjoy career, root to community,’ ‘What makes our customers satisfied,’ ‘ Active connect, learn and Contribute to Murata’ touted by the grand design of Kanazu Murata Manufacturing.”
Sakai: “The implementation of climate change measures is tied to customer satisfaction, and in-house power generation and captive consumption also lead to a reduction in the local environmental load. The project advanced on the basis of such policies.”
This initiative that started from a truly “autonomous and decentralized spirit” at one Murata Manufacturing plant in Kanazu expanded to become a “company-wide” initiative in late 2019. Through the participation of the New Business Development Division, the project was scaled up and advanced with an increasing sense of speed.
Mukai: “The New Business Development Division that I belong to is a team that promotes new businesses, and we are primarily in charge of the energy sector. I had ties with everyone at Kanazu Murata Manufacturing from working together with them on a storage battery for home use. When the New Business Promotion Division was exploring a new business based on storage batteries for industrial use at the time in 2019, we learned that Kanazu Murata Manufacturing was advancing climate change measures.”
Shimizu: “As we were thinking about what we should do for our next development, Mukai contacted me and said, ‘Let's utilize the data from the initiative at Kanazu Murata Manufacturing and create a huge swing toward renewable energy using storage batteries.’ By coordinating with the New Business Promotion Division, we can increase the equipment scale and accelerate it as a project that is undertaken ‘company-wide.’ It was a case where the timing and the intended direction truly coincided with each other.”
In the company-wide project, 255 kW of solar panels were installed on the roof of the manufacturing buildings, and carports were installed in the employee parking lots with 383-kW solar panels on the roof. In addition, a plan was set in motion to install a 913-kWh storage battery system (FORTELION) using olivine-type iron phosphate lithium-ion secondary batteries, which are a Murata product, outside.
Sakai: “In terms of the carport-type of solar power generating equipment, it is the largest-scale project in the Hokuriku region, and we took on the project with the resolve to create a robust solution. At the same time, Fukui Prefecture is also an area with heavy snowfall, so we adopted a structure that is able to withstand 1.75 m of snowfall as stipulated by the building code. Because the parking lot is a space used by employees, we considered the safety and convenience by removing the intermediate pillars and braces (building reinforcement materials) so that the doors would not hit them when getting in and out of vehicles and making sure that rain, snow, icicles, etc. would not fall on people.”
Shimizu: “Meanwhile, the installation work did not progress as expected, and the schedule aimed at achieving operational status was fixed, so there was a feeling of frustration. There were many first-time experiences, so we engaged in repeated discussions.”
Sakai: “Building carport-type solar panels in an area with heavy snowfall was a task with a high degree of difficulty. It was a new initiative for both Murata and the solar panel installers, and there were repeated discussions about how ‘maybe we should try it like this or perhaps try it like that.’ As a result, the carport-type solar panels took one year from conception to installation.”
Mukai: “When the project was initially launched, progress was not necessarily smooth, but as we worked backwards from the schedule leading up to the start of operation and were swamped with many tasks, I believe that a sense of unity was gradually created as we headed toward the goal.”
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- Murata participation in Global Environmental Initiative RE100- Aiming for 100% renewable energy use by 2050 -