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Working passionately for a sustainable future
WHETHER it's leading a company effort to save energy or inspiring those around him, Lee Kum Chin has become a champion for energy efficiency at healthcare company Abbott Manufacturing Singapore.
Mr Lee joined Abbott in 2015 as the regional utilities manager, taking on an additional role of utilities manager at the Singapore manufacturing facility three years later. Working alongside other departments, he helped Abbott achieve improved energy performance and significant cost savings within one year. These achievements saw him win the Outstanding Energy Manager of the Year award at the EENP Awards this year.
In his role, Mr Lee has helped to manage utilities such as water and electricity that are needed to produce Abbott's nutrition products. He also partnered facility management to develop long-term plans to drive energy and water efficiency.
Among other activities, Mr Lee led the company's weekly Utilities Excellence meetings with the energy team to monitor and track the facility's energy performance. He also worked with his team to initiate various energy savings projects and ensured that Abbott's Site Management Team was kept abreast of the facility's energy performance through monthly reports. As a result of his strong leadership, the manufacturing facility saw a 14 per cent improvement in kWh per pound of product produced from 2017 to 2018.
According to Abbott, one of Mr Lee's exceptional qualities was his ability to offer solutions and present energy efficiency as a win-win situation for both the process and utilities teams. He changed how the teams perceived energy efficiency and convinced them to implement energy-saving projects. One such effort involved reducing production equipment idle time, which helped the company achieve energy savings of 2,900 MWh/year. His leadership also helped the manufacturing facility attain substantial energy savings of approximately 30 GWh through the completion of a number of projects.
Mr Lee feels that his most significant contribution has been helping to better coordinate utilities generation and utilities consumption at Abbott. "Energy efficiency essentially comprises two parts - promoting efficient energy generation and ensuring efficient energy consumption. While our utilities team has full control over energy generation, we rely on Abbott's broader production teams to reduce energy consumption," he explained.
"Instead of working separately, I partner the production teams to raise our energy performance to the next level. Together, we work to inspire and encourage team members to contribute new ideas in energy savings, and then collaborate on implementing the best solutions and resolve any challenges they encounter in reducing energy consumption."
As a result, the utilities team was able to better manage its energy use across all operations at the facility. This also further strengthened the culture of energy-saving among employees.
Mr Lee was also recognised for his efforts in encouraging those around him to submit and implement energy-saving ideas through an Idea Generation programme. This resulted in 15 submissions, of which five were successfully implemented. This included a project to reduce water use in the wet process area by changing the standard operating procedure.
"I encouraged every individual in the facility to contribute and implement energy-saving ideas through our ongoing Idea Generation programme, which has helped to advance our energy efficiency. I care about the environment and care about what we do, collectively, to make a significant difference in protecting the environment. To do that, I share my knowledge about energy conservation with others. With understanding, people can appreciate how they can help to make a difference," said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee and his team will continue to actively explore new energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that will enable Abbott to meet and exceed its Global 2020 target of a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 emission, from a 2010 baseline.
"At Abbott, we are always looking to the future, anticipating changes in medical science and technology to shape the company for sustainable performance and leadership. With this in mind, we are always looking at new ways and technology advancements to better our energy-efficiency performance," he said.
One example is a project aimed at improving the efficiency of its onsite chiller plant. Working with an outside partner, the team has developed a five-year plan to identify and implement changes that has the potential for future energy savings.
Said Mr Lee: "I am passionate about building a sustainable future. Being part of a company like Abbott that prioritises energy efficiency and safeguarding the environment further energises me to drive positive environmental impact, so people can live healthier and better, both today and for generations to come."