Advanced aluminium processing
Bang & Olufsen uses aluminium because it is an attractive material that can be processed to achieve a durable surface.
In order to achieve an attractive and durable surface, our aluminium materials are anodized. Anodizing is an electrochemical treatment which forms a very durable oxide on the surface of a material. Bang & Olufsen originally began anodizing materials back in the 1950’s. The present facility was set up in 1992, and still stands as one of the most advanced facilities in the world.
The anodizing facility consists of 30 baths, each having a volume of 3800 liters. Each bath has a certain function, e.g. degreasing, preserving, rinsing, coloring, staining, oxidation and sealing. The most significant environmental issue at the anodizing facility is water consumption. Accordingly, Bang & Olufsen has a natural focus on reducing water consumption for each m2 of anodized aluminium. We are constantly striving to improve our technology and processes with the aim of further reductions in water consumption.
Air extraction from the surface of the baths varies according to the kind of production process in motion at the anodizing facility. The extracted air consists of atmospheric air with a varying content of hydrogen and aqueous aerosols. Aerosols in the air are removed by way of a wet scrubber, where the air is washed with neutralized water. Following a two-wash cycle, remaining drops are removed in a drip catcher. The clean air is then released to the external atmosphere. Thanks to this system, the anodizing process does not cause air pollution.
Waste water in the anodizing facility contains remnants of colorants and aluminium. Waste water is cleaned in Bang & Olufsen’s internal cleaning unit before being conveyed to public utility cleaning facilities. The waste water is neutralized during cleaning. On being neutralized, the aluminium particles form a sediment and combine with coloring particles in the sump. Ongoing checks of the cleaned waste water is carried out by an independent research institute. There has never been an instance where the statutory limits have been transgressed. Sludge from the internal cleaning unit contains remnants of colorants and aluminium salts. The sludge is drained and compacted into filter cakes prior to removal. Since 1999, Bang & Olufsen has been recycling this sludge residue. The aluminium based sludge is reused in production processes for concrete, which is an environmentally sound solution for both parties.
Other than the waste water mentioned above, no waste is generated in the process.
ICEpower is Bang & Olufsens own, patented digital amplifier technology. It combines extreme power and low energy consumption with an outstanding quality of sound. On average, conventional analogue reinforcers convert only 35% of the ingoing effect to outgoing effect. The residual 65 % is dissipated via heat energy. For this reason, reinforcers are usually equipped with large cooling plates which conduct the heat away, and thereby prevent problems in quality.
ICEpower technology reduces energy consumption in normal use by a factor of 10 compared to conventional technologies. This means that the reinforcers, because of better utilization of effect transfer, generate far less heat, whereby the necessity for large cooling plates is avoided and both size and weight are drastically reduced. In other words, the environmental advantages include reduced energy consumption, less need for materials for the cooling plates, and weight reduction. This makes it possible to create a compact amplifier with high outgoing effect without large heat loss.
Working environment at Bang & Olufsen
Bang & Olufsen places great emphasis on the occupational health and safety of our employees. Our aim is to create a safe and healthy working environment – both physical and psychological – for our employees. Bang & Olufsen strive to adapt workplaces to suit the employees, not the other way round. For this reason, occupational health and safety aspects are taken into consideration as early as in the design and development phase, because the choices of for instance materials, joining methods and surface treatment options made by product developers often have a major impact on occupational health and safety in the production phase.
Even in the product’s development phase, Bang & Olufsen appoints a committee consisting of production technicians. The purpose is on the one hand to provide for the working environment in the production phase and, on the other, to anticipate difficulties associated with production start-up of the new product. Furthermore the committee has the purpose to take the handling of products at Dealers and Customers in consideration. Among other things the choice of packaging are of great importance for handling products at dealers and customers.
At least every three years, all workplaces are subject to a so called workplace assessment (WPA), where above and beyond physical, chemical and ergonomic conditions, factors such as the staff’s psychological working environment are studied. From the WPA it is possible to identify the focus areas of concern related to the working environment.
Focus areas in the assembly of products are to ensure ergonomic workplaces, avoid heavy lifting, noise and use of chemicals.
Bang & Olufsen has few working places with monotonous, repetitive work (work leading to RSI). RSI continually puts load on the same muscle group which is not healthy for the body. We have a particular focus on avoiding RSI, which is defined by the operation’s cycle times being less than 30 seconds, or where repetitive work takes place for more than 50 percent of the time. Where it is not possible to eliminate RSI in the work process, the operator must only work for 3 - 4 hours at this workplace, after which, job rotation to other tasks must take place
The working places are equipped in such a way that the working height can be varied depending on the task and the employees are instructed in good working technique. On the whole all working places can readily be adjusted to the ergonomically correct heights for the individual work function. At several assembly stations the working height is set several times during each work function. The employees use this opportunity frequently.
To increase flexibility and prevent repetitive monotonous work, all employees are therefore trained to operate all assembly stations. Job rotation has been introduced to the employees so they can switch between the various assembly stations. The production team itself plans the extent of job rotation at daily morning meetings where they are also briefed on the amount of work that is to be produced on the day in question.
The Danish Working Environment Act states that a person may lift a maximum of 50 kg, on condition that there are no exacerbating factors. “Exacerbating factors” refers, for example, to lifts that are not close to the body, lifts below knee height or above shoulder height, lifting objects with sharp edges, or lifting objects with delicate surfaces.
There is no heavy lifting in the actual of production of Bang & Olufsen products. Parts to the production of a product, which are heavy or unwieldy are handled with lifting equipment or at few occasions with two people lifting as laid down by the Danish Working Environment Authority. Furthermore to avoid heavy lifting supplies are delivered in sizes below the weight tonnage of heavy lifting as laid down by the Danish Working Environment Authority.
Bang & Olufsen strives to maintain low noise levels so that hearing damage, or other problems relating to noise pollution, is avoided. At most workplaces the noise levels are far lower than 80 dB(A) as required by the Danish Working Environment Authority.
Bang & Olufsen place great emphasis on minimizing the use of hazardous chemical materials, so that Operators are not at risk from work related problems as a consequence of dangerous chemicals. Bang & Olufsen strives to substitute dangerous materials with components which fulfill the same objective but are less harmful to the general environment and the working environment.
The Danish Working Environment Authority carried out an unannounced audit of the Bang & Olufsen production factory. The audit resulted in the Bang & Olufsen factory being categorized as a Level One Company, the highest level possible in Denmark.