Cambridge is on Day 2 of OSHA training, so safety practices and risks are top of mind. We’d like to believe that safety is always the top of everyone’s mind, but the reality is that there is definite room for improvement.

Ergonomics (er·go·nom·ics) according to OSHA:

Adapting tasks, work stations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work- related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). An often overlooked aspect of safety is the practice of stretching to enhance Ergonomics. This can involve the arrangement of equipment, which we address with continuous lean improvements, but also extends to the practice of how the work is done. Our shop workers are always bending over, lifting heavy equipment and pushing items into place. Our office workers generally experience the opposite- where they have minimal change of position. In both instances, our employees are at risk of injury and health problems.

Stretching at the Morning Meeting

To help us minimize this risk, we asked the help of the SSM Physical Therapy department to assess our risks and create a stretching program that we can implement at the beginning of every morning meeting. And we mean every morning. Though stretching may seem unnecessary as a way to start the work day, the practice has already shown not only to get our bodies adjusted to what they will be up for during the day, but also to break the ice for the day. There’s something about seeing the CFO  do the “lunge stretch” to remind us that we’re all in this together. People who come to visit Cambridge and experience the morning meeting often provide the feedback that they were surprised that everyone participated in the stretching exercises and that they wish their company could do something similar. We are including a quick video below of the program that we utilize (modeled by some limber Cambridge employees) so that you may realize that it’s not a huge undertaking, and that encouraging your employees to incorporate safe health habits within their workday is not only fun, but necessary for their safety. 

When it comes to determining they types of Cambridge Engineering units that you would need to heat and ventilate your facility the answer is not always easy. You might have a small building with just basic heating needs. Or you might have a large facility that has mechanical exhaust and you need equipment that provides both exhaust replenishment and heating. Either way, knowing which products you need to provide the best indoor air quality for your facility is not always cut and dry. So take a minute and read over the infographic below.  It asks some very basics questions that can provide a general guide as to what Cambridge products are available to help you with your heating, ventilation and exhaust replenishment needs.   But don't stop here. Take the next step and engage our exceptional sales team who will work with you to determine the size and type of Cambridge units that you will need to meet your facilities requirements. Just visit us a www.cambridge-eng.com or click heres to schedule a meeting with our sales team.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about, and practicing, lean principles especially since our organization has started using the principles outlined in a book called the 2-Second Lean by Paul Akers. Although this is not the start of Cambridge’s lean journey, it has been a significant simplification to the process and has made a huge impact. It talks about how to recognize and eliminate waste in an effort to provide more value for our customers. The book talks specifically about 8 deadly wastes; over production, transportation, inventory, defects, over processing, motion, waiting, and unused employee genius.

We are learning that when we eliminate waste we improve quality, productivity, and profitability. Now some might think, and they could be correct in their logic, that asking your people to be more productive could mean you are asking people to do more in the same 8 hours a day than what they did in the past. Well your right, we do want to be more productive but we want to use that productivity to help our organization grow more effectively and growth benefits all of us. And we’re learning that these sometimes simple improvements just make it easier to accomplish our day to day endeavors. Our 3 pillars…see waste / eliminate waste / make videos…gives us the chance to video all the simple, and even sometimes complex, improvements that we are empowered to make each and every day. To date our organization, mostly the manufacturing team, has created over 650 videos documenting their elimination of waste. What’s happening, and it has been amazing, is the engagement that is taken place in our organization. People are truly working together to accomplish a common goal...eliminating waste. Helping each other. Coming up with ways to make their job easier, and in most cases faster, not because they were told to do so but because they were empowered to use their knowledge about what they do on a daily basis and make it easier and better. So we no longer have to ask if we can make a change... we have the authority to make the changes. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that kind of environment, an environment where we value everyone’s input on how to be more productive. I read somewhere that people who are happy at work take that positive attitude home with them and share that positivism with their family. Think about that…we’re creating an environment where people enjoy what they do during the day and then take that positive attitude home with them at night…incredible. (I need to come up with another way to describe the 8 hours a day I spend with the Cambridge family because it is not work…work to me seems tedious, laborious, and just not fun and that’s not our environment) I would encourage all businesses large and small to think about what a lean endeavor could mean for your organization. As with us, we didn’t embark on this journey with some enhanced financial goal in mind. We started this journey in an effort to create an organization where we have empowered people, and oh by the way a whole lot happier, who enjoy spending 40 hours a week with their daytime family members. Knowing that they have the right to affect change without asking for permission. After all, who knows better about how to improve what each of us do every day than ourselves?

What is a net-zero building? Basically it is a building that creates as much renewable energy as compared to the Delivered Energy it uses. By this I mean the amount of electricity and natural gas that is provided by local utilities or the Delivered Energy that is tracked by some type of meter and that you don't physically create yourself. This Delivered Energy is compared to the renewable energy that you do create onsite (solar, wind, hydro, etc.) and the net difference is equal to or less than zero. Depending on where you are located throughout the U.S. this can be difficult to achieve. Northern states that require more Delivered Energy to heat their buildings in the winter months may find it difficult to achieve net-zero. The amount of sunny days and their physical structures may not provide the environment to have enough solar panels and sun to generate the needed renewable energy to offset the Delivered Energy. And don't forget...those locations that have second and third shifts are going to be consuming delivered energy without the ability to generate renewable as there is no sunlight at night.

So what is the solution?

One key component to help reach net-zero in these types of scenarios is to use the most energy efficient products available. Products that use less delivered energy will in turn require you to create less onsite renewable energy. This is where technologies like LED lighting, High Temperature Heating and Ventilation (HTHV) heating solutions, Energy Recovery and other energy efficient products can play a critical role in the net-zero puzzle. The higher the efficiency the product the easier it will be to reach net-zero. And in buildings that consume large amounts of delivered energy the higher the efficiency they are the better. So for those organizations that are looking to achieve net-zero is will be important to look at the entire picture. It's not as simple as putting some solar panels on the roof and a few wind turbans on the property and hope you generate more than you consume. You need to take a holistic approach to the project by first reducing the amount of delivered energy consumed which will make it easier to offset it with the renewable energy that you create. To learn more about the energy efficient HTHV technology read the U.S. Department of Energy's study, "Field Demonstration of High Efficiency Gas Heaters". Let me know what your thoughts are on achieving net-zero. I look forward to your comments.