Manufacturers See Competitive Edge in Carbon-Accounting Module

Dec. 15, 2011
Two Epicor ERP subscribers aim for sustainability by streamlining data collection, management

Two manufacturers — one, a producer of prototypes, high-tolerance tooling, machined components, and injection molded parts; the other, a maker of specialty electronic thermostats — have adopted Epicor Software’s carbon-accounting module to track, manage, and minimize their carbon emissions. Both Harbec Inc. and Elstat Group employ Epicor’s enterprise-resource planning suite (ERP), which provides customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), human capital management (HCM), and other data-management modules to over 33,000 manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and service organizations in more than 150 countries.

Epicor’s Carbon Connect module was introduced in late 2010 to help users identify, analyze, audit, track, manage, benchmark and report on their carbon emissions and energy consumption. It is offered in both of Epicor’s delivery options, on-site or on-demand.

The software developer explained that as part of its ERP product suite, Epicor Carbon Connect draws on information subscribers use to calculate expected emissions output and budget for environmental cost factors. It calls Carbon Connect “a fundamental part of an overall financial management and accounting system” that helps users to engage in emissions accounting for regulatory, public relations, marketing, and operational efficiency.

Advancing sustainability
Harbec Inc. is a New York-based contract manufacturer of prototypes, high-tolerance tooling, machined components, and injection molded parts. It supplies customers in medical, automotive, electronic, telecommunications, consumer goods, and other industries. The company has made numerous efforts to identify itself as an environmentally sound, sustainability-focused organization, but in spite of its advances in carbon reduction, Harbec only had manual systems for measuring and collecting data to track its carbon output.

The company decided that a more accurate and credible solution would advance its goal to be “carbon neutral” by 2013. Because it was using Epicor’s ERP already, Epicor Carbon Connect was the best approach to its desired results.

“Ultimately we needed a monthly report of how we’re doing in terms of sustainability metrics,” stated Harbec president and founder Bob Bechtold. “Those metrics are as serious to us as other common business metrics like financial reporting.”

Harbec is pursuing certification to the newly released ISO 50001 energy management systems standard, too, which requires systematic documentation of carbon emissions using programs like Epicor Carbon Connect. Bechtold said that many companies claim to be environmentally friendly with little or no documentation, but its new capability and certification will give Harbec a competitive advantage because it will “(prove) that we are a leader in sustainability.”

“Having credible documentation that comes from a robust ERP solution will allow us to quantify what we’re doing,” Bechtold said, “Any company can compensate for its carbon emissions by purchasing offsets, but this solution will enable Harbec to efficiently and accurately track our carbon footprint, helping us to manage it toward zero through efficiencies and smarter power generation.”

Ahead of the trend
Elstat Group is a global company that commercializes refrigeration controllers used in display cases and vending machines. Its devices use an intelligent learning system to deliver energy savings of up to 60%, which reflects Elstat’s commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of its products and its operations.

“Our business is sustainability focused,” according to William Holden, the company’s ‘environmental innovator’. “For us, it’s key to our continued success to implement an internal infrastructure that will support our core objectives in the long term.”

Elstat had used a MS Excel-based carbon tracking system, a manual effort that quickly became too inefficient and time-consuming. “Excel’s basic formulas never adapted to the way our business was adapting,” Holden explained. “We needed to eliminate the data gathering burden -- and the fact that we can integrate our carbon accounting into our existing ERP system was one of the main benefits we saw of selecting Epicor Carbon Connect.”

Although businesses headquartered in the U.K. are not required to report carbon emissions, currently, that could quickly change soon due to ongoing legislative efforts. Holden said that Epicor Carbon Connect will allow Elstat to adhere to new regulations easily, and give it an advantage if (and when) the regulations change.

“We’re very excited about this project,” Holden said. “Very few organizations will have an integrated solution like Carbon Connect and we feel we can gain a lot from its benefits in the long term.”

“Epicor is redefining what a midmarket ERP solution offers to customers with offerings like Epicor Carbon Connect,” stated Chris Purcell, Epicor product marketing manager. “Epicor is committed to the global, emerging ‘green’ market, and this is an example of how we are continuing to enhance our visionary reputation with such a product.”

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)

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