Aztec Label proves sustainability doesn’t have to cost the Earth

How environmental awareness has helped drive efficiency and productivity at labels specialist

As environmental issues continue to dominate headlines around the globe, one growing labels business is using the sustainability agenda to help drive efficiency and productivityat itsKidderminster base.

Aztec Label is consistentlyworking to reduce its own carbon footprint, not only through significant investment in energy-saving – and energy-producing – technology, but also through implementing new processes and systems that are delivering improvements across the business.

The company recently celebrated 25 years of producing high quality self-adhesive labels by undertaking a £250,000 refurbishment of its premises – and Managing Director Colin Le Gresley said the huge environmentally-responsible investment has already paid dividends.

“We installed solar panels all along the roof as part of the massive refurb operation, and we now generate so much electricity that we can’t use it all ourselves,” said Colin. “It’s a huge, 98kwh system. In three months alone we generated more than 50 megawatts of power, but the factory doesn’t use all of that so we’ve actually been donating the remainder to the national grid and diverting it back into the supply.”

As well as generating more than enough energy to power the business, Aztec has reduced its energy consumption through a number of initiatives, including replacing all its lighting with energy-efficient LEDs and undertaking to convert from traditional UV driers to new LED machines.

“We were also an early adopter of the BPIF ‘Zero Labels 2 Landfill’ scheme,” said Colin, “and since 2017 have remained members of what is still one of the only schemes in the UK exclusively operated within our industry aimed at eliminating label waste being sent to landfill.

“We have successfully implemented a full quality control system at every stage of our operation, with rigorous testing and cross checks which serves to eliminate errors and further reduce waste,” added Colin, “and we also have full traceability on the key materials used. This final point is something that is obviously ofvital importance for many customers, in order to clearly demonstrate they are adhering to their own CSR objectives.”

Colin explained that as part of the efficiency drive, Aztec Label is only the second business in the country to be using the Label Traxx Management Information System. “This means that every one of our presses collects data, timings and costs, then analyses all the results in terms of forecasts against production,” he said. “This means we can maximise our operational efficiency real-time. When running three machines across a full month – and at double shift, for 750 hours – we were within seven hours of the forecast, so the potential for savings across the board is obvious.”

Colin said that he was looking at every element of the business as part of an overall efficiency drive. “One thing visitors to our facilities immediately notice is that the factory is spotlessly clean,” he said. “We looked at anywhere we could make a real difference – such as clearing up after mixing ink or clean downs – and following the refurbishment, we have instilled such a sense of pride that now if someone has a couple of minutes between jobs, they grab the motorised floor cleaner and make sure everything is spick and span rather than sit and have a break or make a cuppa.”

Ultimately, Colin has ambitions to make Aztec Label completely self-sustaining, harvesting and saving the excess electricity they produce for later use.

“Everyone is chasing a solution to the problem of sustainability in their business.But for us this is not about the money, it’s about the benefits.I’m planning for future generations,” said Colin. “It’s not just for me and my business, but my employees, their kids, my own kids – we will all ultimately benefit.”

CAPTION 1: Solar panels fill the roof space of Aztec Label

CAPTION 2: The immaculate and impressive facilities at Aztec Label