When many people think of steel, they think of billowing smog, excessive energy and grubby faces, but maybe not of a sustainable business. Is this image fair in this day and age? And if it is, what are we doing about it? The Government are strongly advocating for the race to zero, and are committed to halving emissions by 2030. Instinct Hardware, – along with countless others, are looking at putting in place realistic milestones to become more sustainable.
As a UK stainless steel hardware and ironmongery manufacturer, we work with this magnificent metal daily. We take the raw rods that are delivered right through to the shining handles you expect to see on the doors of some of the UK’s grandest buildings. The level of work required very much depends on the product itself. With demand rising for more specialist products, such as knurled, powder coated or shaped handles, – there can be multiple processes involved.
As a starting point, earlier in 2022 the Instinct Hardware team undertook a review of the factory itself. We looked at where sustainability could assist the efficiency of the business. Take a look at some of the results:
Steel for Ironmongery
Our most popular material is the 19mm dia. 316 Stainless steel. We source this from a sustainable European company, who have ISO14001 certification.
We will also continue to review the provenance of our other steel options and will make sustainable choices for our commercial hardware and ironmongery where this is viable.
Machinery for Ironmongery
Old and defunct machinery not only takes longer to operate, they tend to waste energy and are less efficient to run. We have invested considerably in our CNC machinery to keep this up-to-date. This machinery links with our CAD & CAM software to ensure that material and tool wastage is kept to a minimum.
We have purchased new machinery for our polishing area (the NS ML100). This machine is more energy efficient and streamlines a number of processes we undertake. Introducing this machinery means that we can set up specific machines for particular polishing styles. This also means we are able to gauge which machines can be completely shut down for the coming days manufacture.
We are already mindful of the lubricants and coolants that we use in the machines-, so we have chosen to work with a leading UK supplier. They not only demand high performance from their products (again helping with the machine efficiency) but they also ensure that each area of manufacture is carried out in accordance with ISO9001 and 14001 regulations.
Ironmongery Factory Layout
It sounds simple, but by changing the layout of the factory, we have increased efficiency and reduced our energy costs. We have introduced a new racking system allowing us to store both raw material and manufactured products. This has allowed us to produce some excess products when we manufacture our standard hardware. This means that for certain products and orders we can bring lead times right down and use less energy as the ironmongery needs minimal finishing.
We are a complete end-to-end manufacturer. This means we have little to no transportation costs during the course of manufacturing. Most of the travelling done is on foot! We have dedicated areas for each part of the process – with staff walking to give the product to their specialist colleagues. Knurling, mitering, shot blasting, welding – all within easy reach. It goes without saying, but this cuts down on the costs that other manufacturers can incur by having to have sections of the process completed by external companies.
Energy Usage in Manufacturing
Energy prices are soaring. Here at Instinct Hardware, we were ahead of the times with the installation of solar panels in 2015. At the same time, we overclad the roof for thermal efficiency within the factory and office space. This helped us to improve our energy costs, which has saved us money. This has allowed us to keep our prices competitive. It also means that we are using renewable energy as a supplementary energy source. We’ve switched our fork lifts and scissor lifts to electric from the original gas. With that upgrade comes energy efficiency.
As a business, we keep on top of our compressed air system. We have recently upgraded our air pressure guns and had new airlines installed, as well as ensuring replacement of the existing pipes. Again, keeping these in tip-top condition means no energy wastage.
We use cardboard packaging for our ironmongery, which can be recycled – and have been using our ingenious ‘egg cartons’ for years, to separate the ironmongery before it is packaged. Wherever possible we use technology rather than written methods of communication and are looking at where we can move this forward even further.
We look to use the ‘offcuts’ from our raw material if this is possible for smaller items – but where it’s too small for us to use, we recycle them through a professional commercial recycling company. This way, even these small parts are not wasted.
The Future of Our Commercial Hardware and Ironmongery
We’re constantly reviewing our environmental impact and are soon to be embarking on ISO 14001 certification. We’re constantly innovating and evolving as machinery allows. Miles away from smog and grubby faces, but still using steel to provide durable, beautiful, long-lasting commercial hardware and ironmongery.
If you’d be interested in knowing more about our steel products, please visit our shop. To see how British Steel are looking to improve their sustainability, please visit the sustainability section of their website. Contact us today to find out more about any of our commercial hardware and ironmongery products or to make an enquiry.