‘Each year, millions of litres of oil are disposed of that could easily be cleaned and reused’
The hydraulic fluids in industrial machines are one of the world’s invisible environmental culprits. Millions of litres are being sent to waste every year. Bramidan is determined to make a change.
Industrial machines, aeroplanes, cars, ships, wind turbines, lifting equipment and waste systems. Where there is movement, we also find hydraulic components. Inside them flows a hydraulic oil that transmits power and minimises wear and friction. When the oil becomes dirty, it is disposed of and replaced with new, clean oil: a harmful practice that needs to change, according to one of the world’s leading manufacturers of balers for compressing cardboard and other materials, Bramidan in Denmark. CEO, Henrik D. Madsen, explains:
‘We produce all our balers here at the factory, which are later exported to the global markets. Hydraulic oil is an important commodity for us. Without it, the machines simply cannot function. The problem with the oil however, is the huge quantities and that it almost always ends up as waste when being replaced. In order to take increased responsibility for the environment, this is a practice we want to change, which is what we worked on in the SDG Accelerator programme.’
Bramidan already has a longstanding practice of cleaning the hydraulic oil so that it can be utilized for as long as possible, but the company is ready to go even further, says Henrik D. Madsen:
‘Needless to say, we are not able to bring back products to the factory for oil change. What we can do, however, is to clean the oil at our customers’ sites. In order to do so, we have invented a mobile dialysis system that will clean and reuse the oil instead of sending it to hazardous waste. We are currently in the process of testing this solution. When fully implemented, we expect a significantly reduced climate footprint.’
In addition to the mobile device, Bramidan is also working to increase the use of monitoring sensors in order to improve both service and maintenance of the machines:
‘Over the past few years, there has been a tremendous development in advanced sensors that can now be connected in different ways to production systems and machines. They all focus on so-called predictive maintenance, a consumption-based service that can replace the traditional common service at regular intervals. They resemble the sensors in our cars that tell us when to change the oil. The result is far more intelligent maintenance and thereby far more intelligent resource consumption,’ Henrik D. Madsen explains.
Participating in the SDG Accelerator programme has been an important lever for creating strong partnerships, says Henrik D. Madsen, highlighting that Bramidan cannot meet all challenges alone. Close partnerships with suppliers are particularly necessary when it comes to sensors. The same goes for the academic institutions that conduct research in hydraulics:
‘Although we are nowhere near the finish line, we definitely feel a strong momentum. New technological developments allow for better utilisation of resources, and the Sustainable Development Goals have given us a shared language to talk about it. Our participation in the SDG Accelerator programme has made this very clear to us, just as the programme has been a fantastic starting point for initiating important collaborations. To me, there is no doubt that the sustainability agenda is here to stay.’
Henrik D. Madsen is also seeing a global megatrend: a drive towards better products that last longer:
‘For many years, people asked for cheaper and cheaper products, which gradually decreased the product quality. Fortunately, we now start turning away from that mindset. Today, more costumers think about the total cost of ownership. This is why we provide full service throughout the entire lifetime of our products. It is imperative to us that they last as long as possible, both for the benefit of our customers and the environment. Add to this, not having to throw out tens of thousands of litres of hydraulic oil every year, and you have a very promising business case.’
Sustainable Development Goals at play
- SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production
- Target 12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
This is how Bramidan contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals
- Bramidan is working to increase the cleanliness of the hydraulic systems in the company’s products before they leave the factory in order for the hydraulic oil to last longer.
- In addition to this, the company has developed a mobile dialysis system that can clean the hydraulic oil in industrial machines for reuse rather than going to hazardous waste.
Facts about Bramidan
- Founded in 1975
- Produces balers for compressing cardboard, plastic and other recyclable waste
- Since its foundation, the company has supplied more than 75,000 machines to the global market
- Exports to 45 countries
- Head office in Bramming, Denmark
- Approximately 140 employees