Air polluting emissions from industry and transport are a source of increasing concern, yet the response from business and government has been only partially effective. Here we talk to Richard Chambers, CEO of Richard Chambers GmbH, about what his tech solutions can deliver for the environment and business.
Global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, urban pollution and sustainability – these are some of the watchwords of our time. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database estimated this year that outdoor air pollution has grown by 8% in the last five years, and much of the growth is concentrated in the rapidly urbanizing areas in the Middle-East, south-east Asia and the western Pacific.
But tackling pollution and reducing harmful emissions is not an easy task, given that they inevitably involve constraining the turnover of powerful and important sectors of the economy.
An assessment of European greenhouse gas emissions by the EU’s Climate Action site showed that industry accounted for 17.7% of emissions, transport 24.3%, energy industries 29.2%, and agriculture 11.3%. All too often the interests of the environment and industry clash, with emission-reduction initiatives viewed as eating away at essential profits, and so being actively opposed.
There is a small business sector keen to stress that the reduction of harmful emissions can go hand in hand with improving efficiency, saving business money in the long and the short-term. One leading voice in this sector is Richard Chambers GmbH, founded in 1982 and based near Munich, Germany. They specialize in products that, applied to anything from machines to transportation, reduce harmful emissions and offer cost and energy savings.
We talked to Richard Chambers about his products and why getting it right can deliver both for businesses and for society.
So what does your company do?
A common reaction by business to the pressing need to reduce harmful emissions is “how much will it cost?” Our approach is “how much will you save?” There is a way to save money and reduce emissions. Around 25% of the operating costs in a factory are from operating inefficiencies, which also increase emissions.
We specialise in products that save on costs, and as a bonus, they all (except one – LecWec), also reduce emissions. LecWec, which, when added to the running machine, replaces lost plasticisers in oil seals, regenerates them, and so eliminates leaks, has caught on big, and is being exported to over thirty countries.
This isn’t our only successful product, though. The Ultrasonic SPY is an easy-to- use fault-finding device that can detect gas and air leaks up to 30 metres away in the standard model; up to 100 metres with an accessory. In power stations, it can detect defective transformers or insulators on power lines. We have a version that is also explosion-safe. The Powerboss motor controller, as well as providing a soft-start, optimizes the power consumption in motors running below their specified design load or cyclically.
Our SX-6000 range of PTFE coatings for friction surfaces in machines simply added without any strip-down, reduces wear, certified by up to 88%. We offer an intelligent lighting system that has been shown to offer up to 50% immediate energy savings and a 66% reduction in maintenance costs. Energy savings also come from another product in the SX-6000 family, Cold-Plus. It offers a new form of PTFE treatment with several innovative advantages for air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. It has been shown to dramatically increase energy efficiencies, and pays for itself within months while also reducing maintenance and repair costs.
So our approach is to make emission reduction attractive for businesses because it also offers them savings and so more profit. Typically, the ROI on investment in our products is at least 700%.
Who are your clients?
With my background in transport, it was and still is natural to work with cars and truck operators, where the treatment with SX-6000 has a big effect.
But we deal with many sides of industry, as the products are widely applicable. For instance, our Ultrasonic SPY device is at several car factories, though not in all their works. The Ultrasonic SPY is also in chemical plants, where its extreme sensitivity means that it detects possible big problems, such as potential explosions, much better than any other device. In other areas too, such as hospitals, it can fully justify its presence.
Why are emission reductions important for the companies?
Well, they are of course required by various EU and international regulations to reduce emissions, and of course, it can also be good for a company’s PR to say they are helping the environment. But mostly companies are interested in efficiencies and savings. My products offer both, apart from LecWec, which simply offers cost savings.
For me, they are part and parcel of the same problem. We need to treat the environment as a technical and scientific problem to be solved with technical and scientific solutions, which also works from a commercial angle.
What are the challenges your company faces?
The challenges we face are both from business and government.
It’s difficult. Sometimes salespeople from other companies will tell their customers that their guarantee will be invalid if they use our products. Car handbooks sometimes warn that the use of ‘additives’ could cause damage. But where our products have been applied, the surge in profits has even exceeded our expectations.
Naturally, sometimes products sold by cowboys do cause damage, but we can take legal action against these.
Then we have problems with government. The German government is very supportive of electric cars, and that seems to them like it would be great for the environment. But they come with a lot of problems, particularly the fact that they use much more copper than conventional cars, which is already a scarce resource. It would seem to be better to start with making existing vehicles as efficient as possible, before moving on to other technologies.
EU regulations, meanwhile, stipulate that energy and emissions are monitored by software. Companies are therefore spending all their time investing in software rather than applying technical solutions to solve the problem. A cousin of mine, who works part-time as a Lecturer at the Business School at Warwick University, argues that business thinks it is efficient if it runs software systems correctly, rather than having any concern for energy and environmental efficiency. It’s a lost opportunity.
But we plan to keep making the case that controlling emissions go hand in hand with cost savings. That’s our job.
Richard Chambers GmbH has just won one of our Business Worldwide’s Company of the Year Awards, recognizing companies that have performed exceptionally over the past 12 months and have proven themselves as dynamic forces in their industry. Given the economic importance of efficiency savings, and the social importance of emissions reductions, companies that can deliver both have much to offer. Let’s hope they get a good hearing.