This guide to sustainability issues uses a simple process flow which reflects process steps that are common across the sector. The guide shows how these processes relate to specific sustainability issues – ranging from water consumption and chemical use to supply chain issues and community relationships. It uses a risk rating system and explains some of the potentially high impact sustainability issues in more detail.
The guide is intended as a starting point only and the process flow is not intended to reflect the breadth of technologies and practices that are used by different enterprises or sub-sectors. Users will need to undertake more detailed research and analysis of the sector.
Other metal production processes are covered in Sustainability issues in metals casting and forging.
Fabrication of metal products uses processes such as shaping, cutting, welding, assembling, folding, roll forming and machining. A variety of products come from the metal fabrication sector. These range from steel beams and panels used in major construction to boilers and tanks and domestic pre-fabricated buildings such as garages.
Sustainability issues in metal fabrication arise from the use of non-renewable materials which are mined and processed into ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Fuel consumption can be significant for transporting heavy and bulky materials to production sites and distributing products. Electricity is the primary energy source and is used to run equipment for shaping, punching, machining and grinding activities. Chemicals are also used for cutting, cleaning, abrasion and surface treatments.
There are many different ways to approach understanding the sustainability issues within a sector. Areas of research might include barriers to entry and expansion into markets, drivers of demand for services and products, geographic location, major markets and suppliers, technology and workforce demographics and skills profile. [Read more…]