Manufacturing Sustainability: Green Manufacturing News


NSK Increases Sustainability While Focusing on Environmental Management and Social Responsibility

posted by Wendy Stott
Published: February 08, 2011

NSK announces increased sustainability measures in 2010 CSR Report. (PRNewsFoto/NSK Corporation)
NSK Corporation, a member of the NSK Ltd. Group of Companies, has implemented and standardized a new environmental policy that will raise sustainability standards within its North American operations. Details on the company's environmental management and corporate social responsibility (CSR), including training and community activities, are outlined in the NSK 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report which can be found at: http://www.nsk.com/sustainability/reports.html.

The report emphasizes the need to balance the pursuit of prosperity with environmental health, stating that 'environmental management forms the basis of NSK's existence. As part of that focus, NSK is increasing efforts not only to operate more cleanly and responsibly, but also to support growing customer demand for green technologies through the provision of innovative bearing and linear motion products.

"Our customers are increasingly interested in the development of advanced technologies that both enhance business efficiency and are environmentally friendly," said Brian Lindsay, President and Chief Operating Officer, NSK Americas. "From hybrid and electric vehicles to smart grids and wind turbines, these products depend on ours to maximize performance and output."

NSK's development of environmentally-friendly products for various industry applications includes:

  • general-purpose, shielded deep groove ball bearings with high load capacity to facilitate machinery downsizing, energy savings and better maintenance
  • low-torque, highly rigid, sealed thin-walled angular contact ball bearings to help increase efficiency of industrial robots and other machinery
  • Toughcarrier™ single-axis actuators for ultra-high load applications to save energy on manufacturing lines
  • Low-torque ball bearings for hybrid vehicles to improve fuel efficiency in hybrids
  • A W-shaped multi-segment friction plate to increase fuel efficiency in automatic transmission vehicles

NSK also continues to focus on technologies such as tribology — applying the science of friction control and lubrication to reduce energy loss — as well as its Neco (NSK Eco-Efficiency) Indicators that, implemented in 2008, quantify the environmental contribution of its products. In particular, the company is refining capabilities in areas such as wind power. NSK estimates that by supplying optimal bearings for wind turbines, it can account for 920,000 tons of the total 400-million-ton reduction in CO2 emissions anticipated by 2020 as a result of global wind power generation.

All 51 of NSK's global sites are ISO 14000-certified for environmental management, and in Japan, as of fiscal 2010, the company has tightened its zero-emissions policy, reducing allowable landfill from 1% to 0.5%.

Standardization within U.S. plants includes baseline monitoring of oil, electricity and natural gas usage as well as CO2 from electricity. This data will be used to help develop action plans for improvement in the coming years. Recycling efforts, meanwhile, continue to improve annually due to initiatives at facilities in Liberty and Franklin, Indiana, and in Suzano, Brazil, which support a recycle ratio greater than 98%.

Other U.S. facilities are putting in place environmental measures such as those implemented by NSK Steering Systems America, headquartered in Bennington, Vermont. The Bennington plant:

  • has identified machines that are large energy consumers and shuts them off if they are not used for 15 minutes or more
  • is replacing hydraulic presses with electric motor-driven presses to save energy

A facility in Clarinda, Iowa that produces automotive ball bearing products now replaces refrigerant in its heating and cooling units in order to save energy and reduce the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Both the Clarinda and Franklin facilities are actively working to lower volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in process chemicals by the use of greener chemical alternatives where possible.

Along with these kinds of environmental measures, NSK continues to support innovative employee health and development through initiatives like expanded e-learning and new training centres in countries like Mexico and China. Local sustainability is a key priority for NSK; the company recognizes that to be relevant to customers in different locales, it's essential that their unique market conditions and corporate cultures be effectively integrated into business processes and goals.

NSK's efforts around CSR and Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) have earned the company recognition by a number of international SRI indices including the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, the FTSE4Good Global Benchmark Index, the Ethibel Sustainability Index and the Morningstar Japan SRI Index. The company also has been ranked among the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations by the World Economic Forum.