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A solar fit-out for sustainable manufacturing

15 . 06 . 2016

Local furniture manufacturer Planex is committed to the future of sustainable production. Recently introducing solar and LED factory lighting to their Melbourne production facility has improved energy savings by 30% decreasing operation costs, carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

Published by Facility Perspective Magazine (Winter 2016)

Australian manufacturing is now highly competitive with the industry facing pressures on many fronts. One of these pressures is the rising cost and uncertainty around energy pricing. With growing concern for the environment, family owned furniture designer and manufacturer Planex chose to substantially reduce their environmental footprint by switching their Hallam factory to energy efficient LED lighting and clean solar energy panels.

In 2015 Planex became interested in improving environmental sustainability and reducing operating costs by upgrading manufacturing to solar and LED lighting. Since the introduction of the 100kw solar rooftop array and LED factory lighting the combined energy savings are estimated to be 185,000kWh per annum, decreasing both operating costs and contributing to a more eco-positive footprint. Their first full month’s operation alone saw the solar PV installation produce 12% of factory energy requirements and save 3.17 tonnes of CO2.

Planex CEO Jean-Pierre Jardel describes the company decision to switch to solar and LED, "As a matter of conscience it’s deeply satisfying to know that we have taken the responsibility to help provide a better outlook for generations to come. We weren’t dragged into doing it; we felt a moral obligation.  The technology is available to us all, it’s simply a matter of choosing to make a commitment to the future.”  He continues “Upgrading the factory means that on some days solar now provides over a third of our power requirements. That’s a lot of CO2 not being pumped into the atmospheres. LED lighting has also reduced our lighting power bill by 60%.” 

To reduce peak load consumption and lower reliance on the grid Planex installed a thin film 100kw rooftop solar array enabling the generation of enough electricity to cover up to 30% of Planex's business energy needs. Installing LED lighting also reduced energy consumption and maintenance costs by 70%. LED lights last longer than metal halide high-bays amounting to energy reduction of 250W per light. In addition, the upgraded office lighting now provides better visibility for showrooms and workspaces.

“In the last 10 months our solar panels have provided us with over 110MW/h of power and reduced our emissions by the equivalent of 58 tonnes of CO2. Planex’s commitment to local manufacturing means that we are dedicated to do all we can to be more efficient and more environmentally responsible.” explains Jean-Pierre.

“Upgrading the factory means that on some days solar now provides over a third of our power requirements. That’s a lot of CO2 not being pumped into the atmospheres. LED lighting has also reduced our lighting power bill by 60%.” 

Catering across commercial, educational, sports, hospitality and residential markets, Planex have been providing custom storage solutions for contemporary workplaces since 1972. Designed with longevity as a key priority, products can re-used, recycled and reconfigured as staffing needs change or work environments evolve. Planex like to call this ‘built-out obsolescence' and it underpins their design philosophy.

Since introducing solar power and integrating LED lighting Planex have significantly decreased their consumption of fossil fuels, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. Additionally Planex products contribute maximum points towards Green rated projects. Planex’s manufacturing is ISO14001 & ISO9001 certified with all Planex products are VOC compliant. The materials are locally sourced, products are manufactured for disassembly and all polymer parts are labelled for segregation and sorting. Furthermore, Planex’s high volume products are durability and fitness for purpose tested by AFRDI-Furntech.

"We want our customers to buy once and buy right – whether this means reusing, recycling or reconfiguring a current piece, our furniture is designed to be enduring and versatile. We call this ‘built-out obsolescence’ and it’s the very basis of our design philosophy." Planex CEO Jean-Pierre Jardel explains.

Intuitively understanding customers have very different needs Planex work with designers to create custom storage solutions for workplaces in over 150+ colours and finishes. As a local manufacturer Planex specialise in providing their clients with custom products with short lead times. Additionally Planex’s R&D team is equipped with state of the art sheet metal prototyping and production equipment to manufacture original design.

To inspire wellness in the workplace Planex’s latest product offering xLocker2 offers a wall of steel perforated door lockers for storing gym gear and bike helmets. This end-of-journey locker system acts as a room divider providing the added convenience of both personal storage and the ability to recharge portable devices in between use. Inspired by the cultural shift towards agile work styles, xLocker2 demonstrates Planex’s unique manufacturing capability to create flexible solutions for evolving workplace needs.

Planex CEO Jean-Pierre Jardel relates his inspiration, "The brand’s ethos has always been around supporting Australian designers and utilising locally sourced and sustainable materials. Our highly customisable furniture range provides inclusive design consideration’s that really cater to the customer needs without hurting the environment."

For more information on Planex’s workplace solutions and commitment to green manufacturing visit read Planex's Story.

Published by Facility Perspective Magazine (Winter 2016)