Lean & Green

How Lean Manufacturing & Green Products and Practices Bring Harbinger Clients into the Future

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. In that inaugural year, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin inspired an estimated 20 million Americans to join together and combine their pet causes on a single day, April 22, to rally and protest against the destruction of a sustainable and healthy environment. An official Earth Day team emerged and paved the way for the Environmental Protection Agency and cleared the path for the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. It was 1990 when Earth Day went global and participation really spiked. Now over 1 billion people in at least 192 countries actively celebrate Earth Day.

Investing in the Future of the Planet & Business

Harbinger has used an outside consultant for years to help us analyze and adjust our own methods of manufacturing, making sure that we keep our own waste to a minimum while educating us on ways in which we can recycle, repurpose, reduce and rethink how we do things in our own backyard. You know, if you wanna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk. As technology is ever-changing and consumer needs adapt, it is an evolving exercise that keeps our business environmentally fit.

Advancements in LED Technology

Our implementation of green materials started in 2000 when we began using LED products specifically designed for channel letters. At that time, the energy-saving benefits hadn’t reached today’s standards. The lights were only available in red, and the cost was high – nearly three times the cost of neon. Now, LED lighting costs less than neon, and the modules are available in various colors.

The world is migrating away from fluorescents and toward broader implementation of LED technology.

LED Illuminated Signage

When implemented in signage, LEDs provide significant energy cost savings. Particularly when utilized in large, single and double-faced sign cabinets. Estimated energy savings can range from 60 to 80%. LEDs can be applied in various indoor and outdoor signage, including menu boards and channel letters, and the lights offer more design versatility because of their smaller size. Although initial upfront costs are incurred, the benefits related to operations and energy cost savings yield positive ROIs for most customers.

For our multi-location clients, Harbinger creates new LED-lit signage, and we also perform green, retrofitting services on existing signs. Currently, our team is fulfilling a contract with one of our largest clients to replace fluorescent lights with LEDs in pylon-sign cabinets.

Energy Audits

To show clients the benefit of retrofitting their signage with LEDs, our teams conduct energy audits to assess the energy used by existing signage. An onsite consultant examines the current lighting products in use and estimates the financial benefits that LEDs could provide. Some clients can save as much as $7,000 per location per year, resulting in an 80% savings on the electric bill and an ROI of 2½ to three years. Switching to LEDs also comes with LEED benefits and some states have considerable tax incentives for these sorts of updates.

Retrofitting signage with LEDs is just one of the ways Harbinger’s long-term goals revolve around green technology.

Other Ways We Save You Green While Making You More Green

Learning about LEDs’ many benefits jumpstarted our research into other green products that could benefit our customers and our company. Harbinger has adopted additional green materials and processes, such as using low-VOC paints and practicing responsible disposal techniques. We started using low-VOC paints in 2005 to continue our efforts to produce a green, cutting-edge product. At the time, it increased our costs by 10% and required our team to learn a new application process because of the paint’s thinner consistency.

Lean Manufacturing

Harbinger also practices green initiatives through lean manufacturing. More efficient and organized lean practices reduce waste, increase output (helping us to be more profitable) and elevate product quality.

Harbinger first adopted lean manufacturing 2½ years ago. Because lean requires an intense, academic journey and a full commitment from your team, the initial conversion posed challenges. To help make the transition, we hired a consultant. The first day, our consultant measured how many footsteps our team members were taking to walk work orders to our foreman’s office in a two-story building in the middle of our work area.

The consultant determined we spent an extra $30,000 each year marching work orders up the stairs to that office. The next morning, a wrecking crew tore down the foreman’s building.

Today, Harbinger has been recognized as a fast-moving, top-performing lean organization. Members of our leadership have been quoted as experts in lean by top publications, and the company has been recognized by the Jacksonville Lean Consortium for its hard work.

Employing lean principles allowed Harbinger to cut the turnaround time for fabricating standard products from 30 days to nine. In the end, you get a higher quality product, faster.

Future Thinking, Future Doing

We continue to invest in research and development of green techniques and technologies. We’re always testing new products. Environmentally-friendly products and services are a cornerstone of of our growth and success.

In addition to increasing our green-product offerings, we also hope to expand our internal green practices, including recycling a greater percentage of our waste and having team members go through the LEED-certification process.

See if an LED Retrofit is right for you by looking at this article that posits 5 questions to determine if an LED retrofit is right for your business:



Read our article about this from 2010 on signweb.com.

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