November 23, 2015

Putting their money where their heart is

Many companies claim their material handling equipment is "green." But rarely do companies commit to the kind of environmental principles embraced by this New Jersey-based manufacturer.

By David Maloney

Many companies in our business claim that their equipment is "green," in that it saves energy or is manufactured with earth-friendly practices. But rarely do companies commit to the kind of environmental principles that Opex Corp. has. I had the opportunity to tour Opex's operations in Moorestown, N.J., to see for myself why this company is considered a leader in green manufacturing.

For most of its 40-year history, Opex has been a maker of mailroom sorting systems. A few years ago, it also moved into the material handling space with the introduction of Perfect Pick, a goods-to-person order fulfillment system. While these systems are designed to save energy and boost productivity, Opex's commitment to the environment goes far beyond making efficient products.

For example, Opex is a net-zero manufacturer, meaning that it produces all of the electricity needed to power its offices and three plants. The electricity is generated via a three-acre solar farm and by rooftop collectors at the Moorestown campus—approximately 9,000 solar panels in all. The system produces more than 2.7 megawatts of electricity annually and puts surplus electricity back into the grid.

To make that power go as far as possible, Opex has installed energy-sipping LED lighting fixtures in its offices, plants, and parking lots. The company also encourages employees to drive green cars. To that end, it has installed free charging stations for electric vehicles in prime parking spots.

Opex also has its own onsite wells, which can produce 35,000 gallons daily for irrigating its grounds. Watering its 25 acres is done in the evenings to reduce evaporation. Rain and runoff water then drip back through the soil to replenish the water table for the next round of irrigation.

The company has incorporated recycling programs into its manufacturing processes as well. It diverted approximately 26 tons of materials from waste streams last year.

Earlier this year, Opex moved manufacturing of metal components used in its Perfect Pick from a West Coast contractor to its own state-of-the-art production facility in nearby Pennsauken—a movethat has saved thousands of shipping miles, improved quality, and eliminated most waste. With the new plant's Lean manufacturing processes in place, the overall cost of producing these parts has dropped 80 percent.

Its accomplishments are so impressive that in October, Opex was named Manufacturer of the Year in the state of New Jersey at the "Made in New Jersey" event organized by the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program and NJBiz business journal.

As our nation addresses climate change, it is refreshing to see such a committed approach to green manufacturing.

About the Author

David Maloney
Editorial Director
David Maloney has been a journalist for more than 35 years and is currently the editorial director for DC Velocity and Supply Chain Quarterly magazines. In this role, he is responsible for the editorial content of both brands of Agile Business Media. Dave joined DC Velocity in April of 2004. Prior to that, he was a senior editor for Modern Materials Handling magazine. Dave also has extensive experience as a broadcast journalist. Before writing for supply chain publications, he was a journalist, television producer and director in Pittsburgh. Dave combines a background of reporting on logistics with his video production experience to bring new opportunities to DC Velocity readers, including web videos highlighting top distribution and logistics facilities, webcasts and other cross-media projects. He continues to live and work in the Pittsburgh area.

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