As an environmentally conscious company, we see it as our task to pollute our living space as little as possible in the manufacture of our products and to get by with a minimum of energy. This is no simple requirement in an extremely energy-intensive process such as porcelain firing. Our sustainability management is taking on new challenges, in line with the motto "BHS tabletop going green". We have set out on the path and every step, no matter how small, contributes to a more sustainable life.
Pioneer in systematic energy management
In a systematic sustainability strategy, energy management and environmental management go hand in hand. As the first company in the global porcelain industry, we have been addressing strategic sustainability goals for years and have been certified for them - long before it became mandatory.
We at BHS tabletop were the first company in the porcelain industry worldwide to be certified in accordance with the DIN EN ISO 50001 test guideline. In doing so, we implemented the requirements of the Energy Services Act (EDL-G) and have been operating a systematic energy management system ever since. Consistent monitoring helps to identify and leverage efficiency potential.
For example, better synchronization of four compressors has led to energy savings of around 20%. As a sustainable company, energy consumption can now be evaluated for each machine in order to identify targeted optimization opportunities.
In addition, we have been certified in accordance with the international standard for environmental management systems DIN EN ISO 14001:2015 since 2011. In order to always be up to date with the latest legal and social requirements, we as BHS tabletop belong to various committees and associations, such as the "Working Group on Occupational Safety and the Environment" and the "Experience Group on Energy" of the Ceramic Industry Association. To ensure that all production processes run without danger to employees and the environment, we have regulated relevant processes in a management manual, assigned responsibilities and conduct regular training.
Interview with Oskar Springfors from Buhr Agenturer AB in Sweden
Sustainability is becoming increasingly relevant. Our customers are increasingly taking a holistic view of the issue and want to know exactly how we as a trading partner are positioned in the areas of social and environmental sustainability and see so-called proof points for this. Such an important proof point is, for example, ISO 14001 certification for environmental management, which can thus become a selling point.
We asked Oskar Springfors from Buhr Agenturer AB in Sweden why ISO certifications play such an important role for him and his company.
"We need to show that it's not just about words, but the actual work behind them"
Buhr Agenturer is Sweden's most personal agency with great passion for the table setting and creative cuisine. We supply catering and commercial kitchens with tableware, glasses and cutlery. When selecting our brands and partners, we work with suppliers who maintain high standards and quality.
It is very important for us as a company, and it is a requirement of our customers, to actively address these issues.
For our trading partners, it is crucial that we can show this kind of ISO certification. This gives them credibility when they communicate with their customers. We talk a lot about sustainability and we have to show that it's not just about words, but also about the actual work behind it.
It is a great advantage if they have ISO certificates. This is a clear signal that you are constantly working to improve in these important areas. Many end customers will only work with suppliers who have ISO certificates.
One of the main concerns of most companies today is to become more energy efficient. Switching to as much renewable energy as possible, using electric vehicles, switching to LED lights, etc.
We have carried out projects on the subject of "sustainable management" both internally and together with friendly companies, institutes and universities. Our Environmental Management department has long worked together with renowned research institutes on projects to improve environmental and energy aspects. Some of these projects have received financial support from public agencies, and some have even won awards. One of our sustainability goals, for example, was to fully recycle all raw materials and intermediate products. Another important project revolved around reducing raw material consumption by increasing the output of finished products. Energy and water saving projects are also a regular part of our environmental program.
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After a combined heat and power unit (CHP) was installed at the Selb DLZ in 2013, another CHP unit with buffer storage and exhaust gas heat exchanger was added at the Schönwald site in 2016. Since then, around 70 percent of the entire electricity and heat requirements have been self-generated. All radiators in the administration complex and logistics are connected to the heating network and benefit exclusively from the waste heat of the CHP unit. In the production facility in Schönwald, all production equipment is supplied with steam and all hot water (cleaning stations) as well as the radiators are operated via the CHP unit.
In addition to the CHP plant, a new annealing furnace has been added to the Schönwald site. This will enable energy savings of 35 percent and a significant reduction in CO² emissions in the future.
Continuous improvement process
The ingenuity of our employees is our creative engine. That is why BHS tabletop has firmly anchored a continuous improvement process (CIP) in its corporate culture since 1999. Behind this tongue twister is the attitude of opening the door to new ideas and thus accelerating our entrepreneurial learning curve. The prerequisite is an open approach to problems.
3F - Fit For Future: Our experts in the workplace
Under the motto "3F - Fit For Future," this program is aimed in particular at making our internal processes more efficient and thus increasing the competitiveness of BHS. This applies to both setup processes and the better use of natural resources. Individually or in project groups, employees work out small improvements or major concepts, e.g. for saving energy or increasing efficiency in production.
Our 3F standards:
Imaginative employees for a sustainable company
The successes achieved lie not only in the optimization of processes, but also in the high motivation of our employees. The willingness to help shape things remains high: Every year, around 1,000 ideas are submitted on how we can do things differently and thus better. All ideas are rewarded by the company, with major ideas even receiving several thousand euros.
If your private hobby also helps you at work, that's a great thing: The annealing furnace in the firing plant of the Weiden cup production facility is a 40-meter-long tunnel that is only about 20 cm high and correspondingly difficult to access. Every inspection was therefore always associated with a lot of effort. Department head Stefan Prölß, a passionate model builder and gifted tinkerer in his spare time, had a brilliant idea. He converted one of his model vehicles to fit into the narrow shaft, equipped it with a camera, and off the inspection trip went. "Of course, it's pitch black in the furnace, so I equipped the car with LED headlights," Prölß says. He maneuvered the vehicle through the kiln by remote control and was able to check it for weak points via monitor. Thumbs up for this super idea, which saved us a lot of time and effort!