Sustainability in PCB production – Becker & Mueller pursues its own eco-strategy
Environmental awareness and climate protection are currently very present in people’s minds. This has been taken seriously at the Becker & Mueller Schaltungsdruck GmbH for many years. Manufacturing companies naturally have a relatively high energy requirement. The topic of environmental protection also has an economic factor that can be used.
The energy requirement at Becker & Mueller has been greatly reduced over the past few years for the various processes. Among other things, the exposure process was changed to a resource-saving direct exposure process. Energy savings of 80 percent could be achieved. Becker & Mueller was able to achieve a significantly better efficiency of +20% with a newly purchased compressor. As with the multilayer press, the waste heat is also used for heating the building and contributes to the in-house eco-strategy. The use of waste heat in various processes has become a matter of course in the Black Forest company. The discharged air is used to heat the supply air via a new air conditioning system. A rainwater harvesting system for the sanitary area was already installed during the construction of the production building. The recycling of used, spent fluids in manufacturing was introduced very early on and is now standard in the PCB industry. In addition, Becker & Mueller only uses halogen-free base material for multilayer production and the need for process chemicals has also been optimized.
Environmental aspects are a topic that has developed a great deal of its own momentum, but is also being strongly promoted by the federal government. But politics alone cannot fix it. Business must responsibly follow suit or lead the way with innovative developments. The Becker & Mueller Schaltungsdruck GmbH wants to develop a role model here. Xaver Mueller, one of the managing directors, has been a committed electric car driver for many years. He leads by example. The charging station on the company premises is available to the general public free of charge, even if it does not belong to the workforce. A photovoltaic system with a peak output of 42 kW was also installed on the roof of the company building. This means electricity production of approx. 50,000 kWh per year and a CO2 saving of 35 tons – the own energy requirement is covered by around 12%. Respectable numbers that help to improve the company’s energy balance. In addition, there is a successfully implemented environmental project to save paper in technical documents and in accounting.
The construction of an environmentally friendly machine park and the possibility of selection with which a client chooses a production are part of the process. Becker & Mueller shows that all of these aspects can work. “With us, replacement or new investments are always judged from the aspect of environmental compatibility.” For example all new chemical plants for the rinsing process have four to six cascades. The statutory requirement is three. The conversion and modernization of existing machines takes precedence over scrapping and buying new ones. All replacement investments must undergo a precise assessment from an environmental point of view.
Becker & Mueller has been certified according to the DIN EN ISO 14001 standard (environmental management) since 2007. Re-certification is carried out at fixed intervals. On the TÜV-Süd website you can read: “… The overarching goal is to promote environmental protection and reduce environmental pollution…” ISO 14001 is not a mandatory standard for companies. Each company decides for itself and documents internally and externally the high priority that environmental aspects have in its own company.
Sustainability in PCB production begins with the manufacturer-related adjustment of the order volume. In this way, the yield of the panels can be optimized. The miniaturization trend also has a positive influence here. Less material consumption means lower costs and less environmental impact. Open communication between client and contractor is therefore important.
Of course, the Becker & Mueller Schaltungsdruck GmbH does not stand still. We are continuously working on savings in internal operating processes. And in the near future, a wastewater system will be purchased that can further optimize the process via PLC control.