Case Study

Romac Industries earns Pollution Prevention (P2) Award for Wastewater Reduction

We are excited to announce that Romac Industries, Inc. was named the winners of the Pollution Prevention (P2) Multimedia Award for 2022.

The project that earned them the award was part of the Lean and Green (W.A.S.T.E.) Coaching Program that we helped launch in late 2020 by the State of Washington Department of Ecology with partnership from Impact Washington. BPI provided the online Lean and Six Sigma training (with a focus on environmental impacts), helped define the project, prioritize the focus area, helped identify the process wastes, and supported the team with project management during the weekly calls.

Romac Industries is a steel fitting manufacturing facility in Bothell, WA. and they were looking for assistance in decreasing waste and wastewater generation on their passivation line.

Their ammonium bi-fluoride passivation process surface finishes stainless steel parts and involves a series of four immersion process tanks, two immersion rinses, and a high-pressure rinse. Historically, draining the entire spent process and rinse tanks generated hazardous waste (spent acid containing ammonia, fluorine, chromium, and nickel) and wastewater (sent to the POTW).

They received assistance from Michael Johnson of Lean Environment, Inc. to analyze the process and their reduction options. They were able to extend the passivation tank life, reducing and ultimately eliminating the need to drain the entire baths. They used counter-current flow to bring acid solutions back to the process tank and keep rinse tank acid concentrations low. They then installed an ion exchange system to allow consistent water quality throughout the process. Finally, acid distillation is planned for recovery and reuse of nitric acid and automated the rack transfers.

As a result of the project, they were able to cut spent acid waste and toxic wastewaters from 64,000 to 30,000 pounds, saving about $50,000 per year, and saw substantial improvements in product quality and process control. More importantly, this increased the safety of workers who use and clean the line. In 2022 and future years, the new process will provide an over 90% reduction in hazardous acid waste and toxic wastewaters, a 200% increase in line capacity, $100,000 per year in savings, and continue to improve the safety and ease of work procedures for operators (less PPE), as well as a reduction in energy use.

Congratulations to Frank Caddy, Joshua Fowler, Kim Howard and Michael Johnson (Lean Environment Inc) for their hard work on this project!

Contact us if you are located in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Idaho or Oregon) and would like to be involved in the Lean and Green program.

You can learn more about their project from their presentation at the IISE conference in May 2022


Want to learn more about Lean and Six Sigma tools, and apply them to an improvement projects? Check out these low-cost online courses and certification programs



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