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Taking a step in the right direction with Schaeffler

We are all becoming more aware of the need to protect the world from catastrophic climate change. This is putting increasing pressure on manufacturers to operate in more environmentally conscious ways. Schaeffler is leading by example, by implementing sustainability-based initiatives across its operation.


COP 26 called on world leaders to take action on climate change. But we can all play our part in other environmental imperatives, such as minimising waste, avoiding ecological damage and eliminating overuse of natural resources in industry.

The spotlight is shining on manufacturers. And sustainable manufacturing operations are critical to their future success and brand reputation.


Not just box-ticking

Sustainability must be more than a tick in the Corporate Social Responsibility box. It requires a strategic corporate agenda that outlines short-, medium- and long-term objectives. For example, Schaeffler’s production processes focus on energy efficiency, environmental compatibility and conservation of resources, and the company aims to be carbon neutral across all production sites worldwide by 2030.

Companies which issue sweeping statements about their commitment to environmental responsibility give themselves room for manoeuvre to avoid being held to account. What’s really required is transparency and detail, to demonstrate the progress they are making.

Improving sustainability also needs a multi-faceted approach, taking all operational areas into account: management, products, the environment, energy use and efficiency, and more. It should also identify how employees can contribute. The intention must be to combine economic success with responsible activity, through innovation, agility and efficiency – to ensure better processes, occupational safety and a sustainable supply chain.


Strategic direction

Of course management structures and processes to implement environmental objectives must be legally compliant and meet the highest ethical standards.

Social media makes it easy for individuals to express concerns about industries and companies they deem guilty of environmental irresponsibility. This pressure towards responsible and sustainable manufacturing is only going to grow, so it’s increasingly important for organisations to take action.

Acting with integrity is a key aspect of corporate governance. Business dealings should be in line with defined environmental values, which should extend throughout the supply chain. In fact, transparency, collaboration and a holistic approach to sustainability along the entire supply chain should be a core part of any organisation’s drive for sustainability.


The bigger picture

When a product which doesn’t meet the correct specification goes to scrap, waste or for rework, this doesn’t just have a negative impact on productivity. Everything that went into making it is also wasted: whether that’s human resources, machinery or tool wear, energy and natural resources, or raw materials.

The fight against climate change also requires the development of technologies that promote the switch to renewable energies. Schaeffler increases energy efficiency in wind turbines with low friction bearings and develops alternative drive technologies that reduce the average CO² emissions of vehicles. It has also entered into an agreement with H2 Green Steel to purchase 100,000 tons of virtually CO²-free steel, produced using hydrogen.

An issue manufacturer’s often overlook is water scarcity. Planned new water-intensive production facilities should be designed to treat industrial wastewater so that it can be reused or discharged into the sewers. And locations that pose a risk to watercourses must be operated to eliminate any danger of contamination.

Power to the people

Sustainable practices are just as important as sustainable production.

Schaeffler is involved in working groups and industry initiatives to help shape development in human rights and labour laws, and recognises that the expertise, skills and dedication of its employees ensure the continuous development of its sustainability-based agenda.

Employee health and wellbeing should also form part of any sustainability strategy, with work-related threats identified to reduce the risk of illness and accidents. A comprehensive approach to occupational health and safety also improves working conditions, and management and corporate culture. At the same time, training courses help to increase health awareness and improve competitiveness.


Action plan

Sustainable procurement should always have what is best for the environment at the heart of its strategy and turning this ambition into reality requires every organisation to play its part in tackling the climate crisis.

It’s time for manufacturers to stop paying lip service to carbon reduction. Becoming more sustainable should be welcomed as an opportunity for industry to mitigate the effect of its actions on the planet.


For more information on Bearing Solutions and to get in touch with one of our ERIKS Specialists, please contact your local ERIKS Service Centre, who will be happy to discuss your options.

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