An oilfield services company that recognizes the value of embedding sustainability into internal business processes has elevated environmental performance by expanding its existing continuous improvement program. This paper describes the program that has been successfully implemented globally over a five-year period. It is illustrated with actual case studies that exhibit both substantial savings in energy, water and waste, alongside business cost savings.

The program covers major facilities of the company's engineering and manufacturing division. Each year, participating sites have an objective to complete a minimum of one improvement project that actively targets elimination or reduction of environmental wastes. Each project executes the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) process. The steps in DMAIC are incremental and data-driven, and use applicable statistical and analytical tools to enable solutions that deliver step change impact. The Control phase specifically facilitates sustainability as it requires implementing models for preserving short- and long-term improvements. These projects are tracked in a centralized repository and undergo a standard validation process.

The program entered its fifth year in 2014, with 28 participating locations worldwide. Project initiatives have generated significant financial benefits, exclusive of environmental savings. Annually, the program has saved an average of 2 378 000 kW-hr electricity, 19 704 000 L water, and 521 t of waste eliminated, reused or recycled.

The successes of the program are communicated both internally and externally, including contributions to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Internally, the program has provided a vehicle to positively engage employees across disciplines, to share innovations, technologies and best practices for the environment. Projects resulting in facilities-related enhancements have demanded initial capital expenditure, but the return on investment is projected to continue beyond the annual timescale captured by the program. The program has stimulated forward thinking management decisions on the future and sustainability within the organization.

DMAIC is a recognized continuous improvement process that use Lean and Six Sigma techniques. By leveraging on this approach to focus on the environment, the probability of overlooking environmental opportunities is substantially reduced. Lean's systematic elimination of waste is implemented in the very literal sense. Checkpoints in each DMAIC step reduce the risk of project failure, and Six Sigma's data analysis methods enable measurable, visible results that allow the organization to track continuous improvement actions towards sustainability.

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