Being a “green” company is about more than the products we offer – it’s about the programs we put in place to be more efficient, create less waste, and recycle or reuse products and materials.
Our advanced wood dust collection system keeps the plant virtually dust-free. Through an extensive sequence of ductwork connected to the woodworking machinery, dust particulates are captured by suction and transported by air into a baghouse for filtering. Wood dust collected from the baghouse is then stored in semi trailers and recycled to a local dry kiln company. (Along with the wood scrap/chips generated by the wood hog.)
Sky Valley’s central dust collection system has an air recovery feature that allows the filtered exhaust to be ducted back into the building as warm air, providing heat during winter months and reducing energy usage.
A duct system pulls sawdust from different areas of the plant.
The dust collection system is important in maintaining a clean and safe work environment for employees. It helps to provide a more productive and practical workplace by preventing dust clouds, which can create vision impairment for employees and lead to mistakes.
It’s very important in a cabinet manufacturing plant to keep wood particulates out of the air and out of the finish. An efficient dust collection system also reduces the risk of fire from sawdust igniting or becoming explosive.
Our entire fleet of trucks are Clean Idle Certified (part of California’s CARB air quality regulation). Trucks that have received the Clean Idle Certification have met the strict requirements for clean diesel technology by eliminating fine diesel particulates that can be emitted during idling. Our current fleet consists of three class 8 tractors, two class 7 tractors and four class 5 box trucks.
We have also implemented a policy with regard to the EPAs SmartWay program. Launched in 2004, SmartWay was designed to reduce transportation-related emissions by creating incentives to improve fuel efficiency. Sky Valley now requests that all of the outside trucking carriers we use be SmartWay Partners. We have also applied for a SmartWay partnership for our own fleet that is currently under evaluation by the EPA.
The Clean Idle Certified logo can be found on all of our delivery trucks.
Sky Valley utilizes a Packsize packaging system to reduce the amount of cardboard inventory and scrap generated. With this machine, an operator types in the size of box needed and the machine makes it in 15 seconds. This has resulted in having only to stock three sizes of cardboard instead of 200+ different sizes—freeing up 5,000 sq. ft. of space—and reduces waste by eliminating the need to maintain excessive inventory.
The Packsize machine creates custom boxes in seconds.
To maximize the raw material yield during machining and panel processing, optimizer technology is used to ensure that all the parts are cut to provide the best yield.
Until 2007, the raw sheet stock was cut using manual estimation techniques, which generated unnecessary waste and excess inventory to manage. The overall yield was around 67% using this process with daily requirements of about 6,000 – 8,000 parts being cut at six different locations. With the panel optimizer technology, a computer program receives the daily requirements for all the parts and exact sizes for pieces to be cut; optimizes them into custom patterns and groups by raw material types, automatically eliminating most of the manual decision making process. As a result, the overall yield now ranges anywhere from 80 to 86%.
The optimizer program also gave Sky Valley an opportunity to run simulations to determine the best sheet stock sizes other than standard 4′ x 8′ sheets. This has resulted in lower raw material cost and use, and less time spent in cutting and handling the excess waste.
Another optimizer program that was implemented in the face frame department has the capacity to read defects in the raw material and determine the best possible combination of parts from the usable length of the material. Up until a few years ago, approximately 6,000 parts were cut on six table saws with the sawyers making the decisions to obtain the best possible yield. Now with the optimizer program, the human decision-making has been eliminated, providing consistent and best possible product yield within minutes of loading the daily requirements.
State-of-the-art equipment maximizes the yield from raw materials.
Programs get a manual check before cutting begins.
As a large manufacturer with varied energy needs, we continually work with the Snohomish County PUD to find ways to save energy and reduce power usage. We replaced all of our finish fluid pumps and guns with an air-assisted system, which reduced compressed air requirements by 30%. We also replaced three 100hp air compressors with one 200hp air compressor and dryer, thereby reducing power usage by 11%, and replaced high-bay mercury lighting with fluorescent lighting to reduce energy consumption.
We also worked with the Snohomish County PUD for nearly a year to complete an LED retrofit to update our entire lighting system, both inside and outside. Completed in early 2017, this large-scale project replaced old, less efficient lighting with new LED lighting technology, and added occupancy sensors to many areas. The lighting upgrades will result in an overall 56% decrease in annual energy usage for lighting.
To make it easier for employees to cut fuel consumption, Sky Valley also participates in the Community Transit commute program; provides carpool and covered bicycle parking, and has a guaranteed ride home policy.
During brightly lit summer months, we remove bulbs from fixtures to conserve energy.
Sky Valley has recycling programs in place to manage other forms of waste produced such as paper, plastic, cardboard and metals. For example, all of the offices and cubicles contain recycle bins for used paper and recycle bins for soda cans and bottles are located in the kitchen areas. Even the disposable coffee cups used throughout the facility are recyclable.
Sky Valley initiated a Kaizen program in 2010 to reduce paperwork waste throughout the company. As a result, 15 to 20% of the paper copies circulated between departments were deemed unnecessary and discontinued. We also encourage the use of PDF documents as an alternative to circulating printed copies.
Recycle bins for just about everything are located throughout the entire facility. All of these materials are stored and picked up biweekly to be recycled.
We constantly implement new processes and technologies to reduce waste streams. Every year, improvements have eliminated 69,000 pounds of toxic material, saved more than half a million kilowatts of energy, saved 40,000 gallons of water, and cut more than half a million pounds of waste.