Our business operations have long been grounded in the pursuit of continuous improvement, from leading the development of energy recovery technologies and advanced air pollution control equipment to delivering an increasing array of services to our customers through Covanta Environmental Solutions. Our EfW facilities are routinely online and available for processing MSW over 90 percent of the hours in a year, and we continue to work to improve the operations, reliability and performance that help sustain our company financially, while protecting our people, our communities and the planet.
Over the last four years, Covanta’s Continuous Improvement (CI) Group has implemented Lean and Six Sigma tools and methodologies to further advance our ongoing efforts to reduce operating and processing inefficiencies and uncover additional revenue opportunities. Widely applied in the industrial sector, these tools help us maintain our competitive advantage and sustain our growth.
Redefining Continuous Improvement at Covanta
At Covanta, continuous improvement is about recognizing opportunities for innovation and then rallying as a team behind the solutions. Covanta Field Services (CFS)—responsible for managing and performing outage repairs and installations at Covanta’s EfW facilities—utilizes the continuous improvement principles to find creative solutions to repair the difficult outages smoothly and quickly. For example:
- A 2018 outage in Covanta Bristol in Connecticut involved two hard-to-reach steam drum cracks that required approximately 4,000 pounds of weld filler metal to repair. Completing the work required the CFS team to develop a new method to cut the drum into pieces and then bevel the pieces back into place. A repair that could have been crippling was instead successfully completed and then held up as a learning experience, and not just for Covanta.
- During a 2018 outage at Covanta Honolulu (H-POWER), an innovative repair method saved valuable time while also improving safety. CFS worked diligently to develop a new system for servicing the facility’s superheaters to minimize the amount of time the facility would be offline. Superheaters are large sets of tubes housed in the boiler that heat steam above its boiling point. H-POWER’s superheaters had traditionally taken a long time to repair safely. The process took several days just to set up before any work could be done. The new system employs a trolley-like mechanism above the boiler, allowing it to be moved along a pulley when it needs to be worked on, which is safer and takes one-third of the time it had previously, saving 112 welds and their accompanying logistics.