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Capstone team helps local company reduce carbon footprint

Posted by Engineering Communications on March 26, 2024 in News
Industrial Engineering Capstone team
Industrial Engineering Capstone team

If there’s one thing Nazli Akpinar has learned through her Capstone project, is that even the smallest change can have a big impact on our environment.

“Global warming is becoming a bigger and bigger issue and I believe that in the future If a company is not sustainable, they won’t survive,” says the senior year Dalhousie Industrial Engineering student.

Since last Fall, Akpinar and her Capstone team have been working with Labatt Brewery to improve utility consumption and wastage at their Halifax facility. Dalhousie Capstone projects are designed to provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with industry on real-world problems.

From natural gas to water, Akpinar and her teammates, Yagmur Var, Weston Porter and Travis Goswell, has been able to identify a number of areas for sustainable improvement within Labatt’s facility. Their approach has been multifaceted, blending innovative thinking with practical solutions.

Inspiring change

One of their primary recommendations is focused on cultivating a more sustainable mindset among employees.

“We discovered that raising awareness about sustainability issues has the potential to shift employee mindsets, ultimately helping Labatt in reducing utility consumption,” explains Akpinar.

Some of their proposed solutions involve training machine operators in maintenance tasks and providing them with tools to detect utility wastage. "If one of their machines is down," explains Akpinar, "we are aiming to utilize that time with productive tasks that could potentially reduce wastage.”

To further support this effort, the team developed a comprehensive utility checklist designed to guide operators and weekend managers through procedures and processes for better machine maintenance and identification of areas needing improvement.

"If there’s down time, we are asking them to inspect for any CO2, water and air leaks. they can use a thermal camera to ensure everything is running correctly and there is no heat loss," says Akpinar. "By actively engaging operators in these tasks, we believe they will become more invested in reducing wastage."

In addition to these measures, the team implemented Non-Production Data Analysis on down days to pinpoint unnecessary utility usage. They also introduced Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) improvements to streamline processes and enhance efficiency.

A new perspective

Born in Turkey, Akpinar moved to Cape Breton in 2017 to attend high school. "I always wanted to move abroad," she shares, "and I realized that if I came here for high school, the transition to university would be easier."

Since making Canada her home, her perspective on sustainability have evolved. "When I go shopping for food, makeup or clothes," she explains, "I'm always conscious of whether they were sustainably made. I check what kind of products are used in it and I try and learn more about the company to see if they are actually aware of these problems and are working towards solutions”

However, she admits that prior to her Capstone project, she still didn’t have a full understanding on how to make a tangible impact on the world. “Before this project, our experience with sustainability initiatives was limited. Working on this project was a powerful reminder of the importance of the environment. Now that I’ve had the chance to work on this, I’m really interested in learning more about green energy and how we can make companies more sustainable.”

Set to graduate this May, she hopes to embark on a career path that aligns with her newfound passion for sustainability, working with companies on opportunities and areas to improve their eco-friendly practices.”

“It doesn’t need to be big steps," she emphasizes. "It can literally just be turning off a light when you leave a room.”