Among the very first to embrace “green” business models, over the years Sabaf has upgraded processes and products, making them more and more eco-friendly. Now the company presents its new initiatives for next years.
by Massimiliano Luce
Today there is a lot of talk about sustainability, Sabaf has been doing it for twenty years. «We have been among the pioneer Italian companies that took care of themes connected with the corporate social responsibility, as well as the first who published an integrated sustainability report», tells Gianluca Beschi, Manager of Administration Finance and Control – Relationships with investors in Sabaf. «The concepts connected with sustainability have been integral part of our way of doing business for a long time now».
Today, the term sustainability has for Sabaf the usual meaning: creating value in the long period for all stakeholders. «As company, we are certainly strongly oriented to the growth and to the economic value increase in the long period, not only in the interest of stakeholders but of all people that rotate around the company: customers, employees, public administration and suppliers, up to the environment itself, which today cannot be neglected, not only for ethical reasons but precisely due to business requirements».
When we speak of sustainability, the first theme highlighted is always the reduction of the environmental impact. «Certainly, it is the most immediate aspect, even if the environmental sustainability challenge undoubtedly has a broader scope today», Beschi points out. «The emission issue is connected with the matter concerning the climatic impact, as well as the responsible use of resources – in particular water – and, finally, the waste management. These are our three macro-subjects, and for each of them we rely on an environmental management system that provides, on one hand, for determinate policies and procedures and, on the other hand, projects already accomplished and others in course, all aimed at minimizing our environmental impact».
Concerning this, in illustrating some concrete initiatives deployed by Sabaf, Beschi mentions a couple of significant examples. «Specifically concerning manufacturing processes, a first investment we made some years ago was using plants that operate with distilled alcohol as washing system of metals, traditionally performed with chemical solvents. This allows not only avoiding the use of chemical solvents, but also recovering the same oil washed by the metal, with a double environmental benefit and, simultaneously, a positive economic repercussion in the management of new plants».
The second example mentioned by Beschi concerns Ospitaletto headquarters. «Here we recover rain water and we use it inside manufacturing processes, mainly as coolant. In this way, we have minimized the use of water taken from the aqueduct or from swells».
“Greener and greener” products
Moreover, we often talk about sustainability as innovation engine of products. Actually, an opportunity seized by Sabaf itself. «Our main product range concerns the components used in gas cooking», Beschi underlines. «We have always worked to improve burners’ performance and efficiency, to assure an overall minor gas use and a reduction of emissions, as far as we can address the market and our customers towards the use of eco-efficient burners. They feature, in fact, efficiency rates approaching 70%, widely exceeding the minimum requisites demanded by European regulations. Considering that Sabaf produces over 30 million burners yearly, with a life expectation of maximum 15 years, we can easily assess their “green” impact on a global scale, although cooking is not certainly the primary emission source. Consequently, we will go on working to increase the efficiency of our burners, considering that, at the same time, it can represent a marketing boost for our customers».
The other example concerns, in its turn, an activity already in course for some years now and regarding the technological change in the production of valves, other line of core product in the gas segment. «Traditionally, they were produced – and many still do it today – using brass as raw material», Beschi adds. «We have gradually displaced the production, preferring aluminium alloys, “greener” than brass because essentially lead-free. Moreover, aluminium has a specific weight that is one third compared to brass: this favours, on one hand, a notable saving of the resources needed for the production of valves and taps and, on the other hand, a decrease of the logistic impact, with the possibility of moving lighter pallets».
That is not all: the manufacturing technology used by Sabaf for aluminium taps, instead of brass, has allowed the company to eliminate a highly energy-eating phase like hot forming. «Now we directly start from an extruded bar, with the consequent energy saving», Beschi highlights.
Sabaf has succeeded in upgrading processes and products in “green” manner due a highly articulated business strategy. «Essentially, we have availed ourselves of our business culture, constantly oriented to innovation and able to focus on the long period, certainly not opting for a series of marginal improvements but, on the contrary, substantially involving the whole technological development. Secondly, we have the necessary competences to face the change, due to our in-house research and development activities and to our know-how of industrial processes, strictly connected with the capability of autonomously manufacturing our machines, moulds, dies and tools. Finally, it is necessary to invest in sustainability and Sabaf has never skimped in this matter, achieving both more immediate and long-period returns, but always lifting a barrier compared to other competitors and placing our bar on a higher level».
On the other hand, today sustainability represents a value for customer themselves. «I believe that the time when it was seen as an aggravation or a tinsel has now passed», Beschi arguments. «Today we are fully aware it is not possible to do business in the household appliance sector if the sustainability issue is not the core. On the other hand, some of our customers are involving the supply chain, Sabaf included, in initiatives and projects oriented to sustainability, as witnessed by the demand for disclosures about our environmental performances and audits regarding our environmental impact and the compliance with social rules». Certainly, nowadays, there is a neat alignment between Sabaf’ s “green”-oriented activity and the demands submitted by customers, «especially by big multinational Groups», as Beschi in person highlights.
New concrete commitments
On the other hand, today more than ever, the collective consciousness – made up of the whole of consumers, of lenders and investors -, with its capability of orienting economic resources, represents a strong stress element in companies’ “green” choices. «The same neat boost comes also from the political legislator, especially from the European Union, with the acceleration given to all sustainability themes, with stricter and stricter targets and increasingly challenging regulations», Beschi points out. «Not fortuitously, today we speak of these topics, noticing companies’ great effort of rethinking their business models. A scenario where, certainly, Sabaf is not unprepared».
So much so that the company has already decided on its next steps, written in black and white. «Our 2021-2023 business plan, for the first time, has decided specific sustainability targets in three intervention ambits. The first is merely environmental and it is connected with the reduction of emissions, with an action plan aimed at making our production processes more efficient. The second goal concerns the work safety, with the commitment to even more improving our already very good benchmarks, tending to a zero-accident index. The third point consists in going on developing our resources and competences, through the constant punctual staff training. All that is the proof», Beschi ends, «of what we are doing, not only theoretically, but in concrete terms with specific quantitative targets».