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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Delphi Harrison

Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems, Lockport, New York

Background

Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems (formerly Harrison Division of General Motors Corporation) is located in Lockport, Niagara County. Approximately 6800 employees are responsible for the research, development and manufacture of automotive heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and engine cooling systems. Many of Delphi Thermal's products were traditionally cleaned with chlorinated solvents and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) during the manufacturing process.

In 1987, a Process Development Team was formed to investigate alternatives to chlorinated solvents and CFCs and to recommend changes that would adress concerns for employee health, safety and the environment. At the same time, the team was charged with improving manufacturing efficiency and product quality. To achieve these diverse goals, the team recommended complete replacement of the cleaning process with more benign alternatives.

Methodologies and Procedures

Aqueous Washing

For most areas, the alternative selected was aqueous washing. Delphi Thermal product quality is up significantly since 1987 due to many improvements - including enhanced process controls on the new cleaning operations. Since the presence of chlorinated solvents and CFCs in the plant air interfered with certain final product quality testing procedures, more accurate and repeatable testing was possible with the reduction in background levels of solvents.

No Clean

In some areas, process and equipment changes were implemented to eliminate the need to degrease parts. This later process, known as "no clean," eliminated manufacturing steps and chemicals resulting in improved quality and greater efficiency. The change to "no clean" was integral to the movement to synchronous manufacturing. Less handling and immediate feedback about quality information are the cornerstones of synchronous manufacturing.

New equipment, process technology, process sequencing and handling procedures were required to implement the alternatives. In addition, employees receive training specific to the materials in their workplaces. Overall, implementing the new processes (i.e., aqueous washing and "no clean") resulted in the reduction of environmental releases of tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and CFC-113 to air and water from 2.7 million to 88,000 pounds in six years. During the same period, hazardous waste generated from the same process declined from 851 to 158 tons. Forming oil and metal chips are recovered as by-products and recycled on-site and off-site instead of being disposed as hazardous waste.

Benefits

From 1988 to 1994, environmental releases of trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and CFC 113 declined from 2.7 million to 88,000 pounds (a 97 percent reduction).

From 1988 to 1994, hazardous waste generated from the use of trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and CFC 113 declined from 1.7 million to 316,000 pounds (an 82 percent reduction).

Environmental releases and hazardous wastes generated from degreasing with trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and CFC 113 were completely eliminated in 1995.

Chlorinated solvents and CFCs are no longer transported, stored or used in the manufacturing operations, thus eliminating a potential source of concern to workers and the community.

Product quality has increased, partly due to the implementation of solvent alternatives.

For product lines that were historically cleaned with solvents, production increased 23 percent between 1988 and 1994.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)

This page was last modified March 8, 1999


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