Landfill-Free and the Future of EHS in the Automotive Supply Chain
Interview with Bryan Hennessey, EHS Professional at Shiloh Industries
Bryan Hennessey is an up and coming expert in the EHS field. Bryan was kind enough to spend some time with us to share some of his industry insights into the world of automotive supply manufacturing, safety, and landfill-free initiatives.
Bryan’s specialties are in ergonomics, safety, and environmental training. He earned his Master’s in Industrial Engineering at Ohio State University and worked his way up to his current role at Shiloh, where he now manages their 20+ locations worldwide as a Corporate Environmental Health Specialist
Q: I’m sure you have many goals and objectives on your plate – what’s #1 on your list right now?
One of my biggest goals is getting all 20 of our sites on the same page. Since several of our sites were acquisitions, I want to get them all utilizing best practices and sharing information. My job is to identify what’s working at one site and apply it to another.
Q: What does Landfill-Free mean to Shiloh?
GM, Ford, Honda, Subaru – all the big auto manufacturers are trying to reduce their environmental impact. This carries over to us as an automotive parts supplier. Thus, we incorporated the GM landfill-free objectives into our own corporate culture.
Our landfill-free initiative means understanding what is going in the trash and finding alternative outlets for it.
We define landfill-free as sending less than 1% of waste to landfill.
Q: How do you identify your waste streams?
While we don’t necessarily go dumpster diving, we do take a close look at all of our waste streams and track them. We watch the process and assess from there. Once we’ve identified a waste stream, we ask a lot of questions. Why is it a waste? Is it cost-driven?
Another example is the oil absorbents we get from ITU AbsorbTech. Instead of sending disposables to landfill, they now get reused. Each waste stream has its own process.
We partner with Heritage as a waste consultant and vendors like ITU AbsorbTech to drive down our waste to landfill.
Q: How do you track your waste streams?
Each facility is required to track their waste through a spreadsheet. We conduct internal audits for certification, and will soon conduct external audits as well.
Q: How do you get employee buy-in for these objectives?
Most of it comes down to trials and honest feedback. If we have to change a process or the way an employee does their job, we want to get their feedback. For example, we trialed new safety cut sleeves for a week. After that time period, we got some negative feedback and decided not to move forward with that particular PPE.
We also get buy-in from continuous engagement. We have safety meetings, safety committees, and employees get credit for their safety improvement ideas.
Q: What advice would you give to an EHS person just starting out?
Ask questions. You don’t know everything you think you know. Get everyone included. If you don’t involve everyone, you might upset the current dynamic.
Q: What do you see for the future of EHS?
The trend now is lean initiatives and getting more done with fewer people. My challenge is to balance these continuous improvement initiatives with the real people actually getting the job done.
In other words, we don’t want to get so lean that we’re putting unrealistic goals on people. The challenge for the future is to balance what we want to achieve on paper with what our people are able to realistically accomplish.
Landfill-free and lean operations are not going away, and they will continue to drive the future of EHS. The keys to success lie in good, open communication, asking questions, and setting realistic goals.
Q: What are your top “go-to” resources?
Networking is huge. I work closely with colleagues and other connections. Vendors are also a great resource to get insight into what other companies are doing. Google, of course, is also a great resource – when you have a problem or question, someone has almost always done it before.
In Bryan’s parting words, he stressed the importance of being proactive because the answer to your challenge won’t always just fall into your lap. Much like Yogi Berra might have said, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
Thank you, Bryan, for these great industry insights!