About Ross Topliff
Protecting the environment has been a concern for Ross Topliff since working to complete his Eagle Scout award in high school.
As an undergraduate Chemical Engineering student, he worked on earning an environmental minor. Throughout his 40+ year
career, he has maintained this focus and worked on many projects with an aim to reducing any potential negative
impact on the surrounding air, water, or soil.
When the NYS DEC was reviewing IBM’s Fishkill, NY facility water discharge permit, Ross led a team of consultants
to investigate several options for bringing the discharges into compliance including zero liquid discharge. His efforts
were well appreciated by the IBM team.
Increasing Process Efficiency is an excellent way to help protect the environment.
Every process that is not working at peak efficiency is creating excess waste. Some large, international firms have achieved zero waste discharge from some of their facilities in the past few years, including GM, P&G, and Sears. This is a huge achievement! Before that was thought to be possible, firms routinely looked at ways to reduce energy consumption, increase product output, utilize raw materials or other process means to lower costs and produce less waste. One way to reduce waste output is to find or create processes that use the unwanted material from one process as the feed for another and create useful, saleable product from the “waste”.
Ross researched and introduced a number of process efficiency improvements during his tenure at Givaudan Flavors,
saving up to 15% of manufacturing cost. He also worked to improve the efficiency of two Garelick Dairy milk processing
plant’s anaerobic waste digesters as part of an effort to utilize the off-gas as feed for a co-generation unit to reduce
their energy costs.
Improving Safety of operations is a critical component of any efficient operation.
Without a safe operating environment, the firm will experience lost work time, costs associated with personal injuries and equipment damages, along with costs due to turnover and training new employees. Keeping safety at the forefront of thoughts for all personnel will help avoid many problems and accidents. Studies show that a good safety and health program can save $3 to $6 for every $1 invested according to etraintoday.com. A calculator on the OSHA website shows that a simple broken bone can require $1.6 million in sales to make up the total direct and indirect costs.
Ross has been involved with improving the safety for office and production personnel in each of his positions. He has
designed and presented hundreds of safety topics for operators, mechanics, and engineers. At a small manufac-
turing firm, he took it upon himself to present safety information as part of weekly staff meetings to raise awareness of
the many safety concerns presented by even relatively benign manufacturing processes. He is always on the look-out
for innovative ways to improve safety.
Currently, he is spreading the word about the hazards associated with small distilleries and means to mitigate them.
He uncovered this issue while researching the craft beverage industry. He realized that the code enforcement officials
in many communities where small distilleries are being built have no experience with this type of business. He developed a two-hour course that is approved by NYS for continuing education credit for these officials. He has been invited to present it at least four times in early 2017.
Clear Documents are essential for safe, repeatable, efficient processes.
Whether a business is in a regulated field such as medical devices, or has little governmental oversight (and who has that
anymore?), clear documentation on all key business and manufacturing functions is important to assuring that each
employee performs a given task in essentially the same manner. With the high cost of non-conformance, recalls, and
legal fees, every business needs to be clear on how to efficiently complete important tasks. With typically high employee
turnover and inexperienced new personnel, these documents become crucial training vehicles.
Ross has been involved in proper documentation of processes throughout his 40 year career. From developing operating manuals for complex, continuous manufacturing processes to completing standard operating procedures in FDA-regulated environments and ISO 9001 compliance manuals, he has written and revised hundreds of these documents. His documents seldom require more than superficial revisions when he completes them.
Publications and presentations help build the brand.
People use many vehicles to get word out that they have knowledge that will be useful others. These include publication in traditional journals, teaching live courses, webinars, presentations to local groups, and YouTube videos, among others.
Ross is no exception. He published articles in two Chemical Engineering magazines, a local trade journal, and made several live presentations to engineers, building inspectors, and distillery owners. He has started building a library of on-line continuing education courses for engineers and others.
Ross & Gary Traver at the 2017 Association of
Towns Conference at the Marriot Marquis in NYC