May 16, 2020

From carpets to cargo containers: How the world's largest airlines get lean

Glen White
3 min
For airlines, every penny counts.
For airlines, every penny counts. When it comes to saving money, one of the key areas airlines must target is the ways in which they can make their flig...

For airlines, every penny counts. When it comes to saving money, one of the key areas airlines must target is the ways in which they can make their flights lighter and more efficient.

From the size of the seats to reducing the drag on the wings, airlines need to constantly asses and re-assess what they can do to reduce weight and fuel use. So just what are airlines doing to bring down the weight and increase the efficiency on every flight?

Making every component lighter

It stands to reason: The less everything on an airplane weighs, the less the craft weighs overall and the more efficient it will be to fly. To that end, airlines have started paying attention to the weight of every last component.

For example, Lufthansa reduced the weight of their cargo containers on their aircraft to reduce the overall weight.

Major airlines around the world have been re-assessing the weight of everything from the seats to the carpets. Every little change, such as choosing lighter seat models or even choosing less dense carpets, makes a difference.

Choosing newer and lighter craft

As the article "The New and Improved Way to Save Money" points out, when it comes to controlling spending, it all adds up. That's why airlines need to seriously consider where they are spending their money when it comes to making the best aircraft choices. The more economical choice in the long term is to choose to buy newer and lighter aircraft.

For example, Northwest Airlines estimates that the Airbus 330 jet consumes 38 percent less fuel than its predecessor, the DC-10. By investing in more efficient aircraft that have been designed to fly better and lighter, airlines can save money on fuel costs.

Using space more effectively

The design of an airplane's interior is of paramount importance when it comes to making planes more efficient. The best possible use of space means that no space will be wasted, which in turn often clears the way for each airliner to carry more passengers.

For example, Boeing made its lavatories smaller by eliminating spare space behind the sink, allowing for four extra seats to be added per flight.

Meanwhile, American Airlines switched to thinner and lighter seats, making room for an entire extra row of seating.

Flying more efficiently

Making an airplane more efficient isn't just about physical weight and use of space; the way the plane flies and uses fuel is important too. Streamlined designs, such as using wing tip devices to reduce drag during flight, can increase an airplane's efficiency. Speed matters, too.

By choosing to fly just a little slower, airlines can reduce fuel consumption without having a huge impact on flight times. Airlines should also pay attention to their flight plans to ensure the most efficient routes are chosen.

Pay attention to every detail

When it comes to making airplanes better efficient and decreasing their weight, every tiny detail counts.

For example, Virgin Atlantic estimated that they could save millions simply by using a new food tray design that allows more meals to be stacked per meal cart, essentially reducing the number of meal carts needed per flight.

Even seemingly small details such as keeping a plane clean can make a difference, as dirt can increase drag and lower fuel efficiency.

From using less water in bathroom faucets to giving flight attendants tablets instead of paper manuals for accessing passenger information, there are many ways in which the little details can add up to significant savings for airlines.

Every little thing counts when it comes to saving weight and saving fuel. As aircraft become lighter and more efficient, so airlines can reduce their fuel bills, a saving which will make a big difference to their budgets, and which can also be passed on to passengers.

Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including branding, inbound marketing, and saving money on manufacturing.

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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

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