Changing the Camera Angle

Gerry SweeneyJoin The Conversation

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I’m sure you’ll agree that no matter what business you’re in, things are moving really fast. Globalized markets, digitized communications and plain old progress have made industry after industry speed way up. As changes unfold, the race goes not just to the swift, but to those who see things differently.

This is certainly true of Rain CII and the industries we’re part of. What used to be big, dirty, extractive businesses are now hotbeds of innovation in conservation, wringing value out of every step. Doing it, however, means changing the camera angle, looking at what something is, not what it was.

Billy Beane What the chemical, the machine, or the worker is now is the important thing to consider. History matters only as much as it determines what an asset can do today. Here’s an example: when you stand at the front of an industrial process, it’s easy to see byproducts as waste. But when you look at that byproduct on its own merits, you can see the value it offers. This is also true of talent. Think about what Billy Beane did with the 2002 Athletics. History is important, but what our people can do now is what we prize most.

The idea of looking at things differently is critical as we globalize, as workforces mature and as supply chains lengthen. It is especially critical to modern industrial companies like Rain CII that use byproducts to create further value.

It takes time, effort and know-how to evaluate an asset’s real value, which is why history is often used as a shortcut. But we must challenge ourselves and our industries to dig deeper – to find new supply sources, create new products and, increasingly, innovate ways to save energy. At Rain CII, waste energy is the same as a waste byproduct. We, and our industry, are getting better and better at conserving both. To us, energy efficiency is environmental responsibility as much as clean air and water.

Chalmette Turbine Generator

Chalmette Turbine Generator

A simple example of this is our recently completed project to use heat from our kilns to generate power. If we only focused on generating better calcined coke for our customers and meeting regulations, the enormous heat our kilns kick out would simply be a problem to be dissipated. Indeed, in the past, industrial waste heat has been a big problem for certain localities. But our engineers thought about it from a different angle – viewing the heat on its own merits. They realized heat could create steam, which could turn turbines and generate electricity for our communities. Solving a problem creates further value.

As modern industrial companies evolve and become more complex, we must get in the habit of changing the camera angle to see things as assets, not problems. This will drive the right kind of progress.

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