CSR and Eiffage International Activities: Smulders
Smulders is an international organisation which helps to complete unique and challenging projects in three different market segments: Offshore Wind, Offshore Oil & Gas, and Civil & Industry. Smulders has become a member of Eiffage Group since 2013. The company has 870 people working at its four branches: Iemants, Willems, Smulders Projects and Spomasz.
Based on GRI Standards (Global Reporting Initiative) and the ethical guidelines of Eiffage, Smulder’s CSR strategies covers a variety of domains and the company is continuously looking for ways to improve the efficiency of its operations. The management system is indeed certified to international standards such as ISO 9001 (quality), ISO 14001 (environment), OHSAS 18001 (safety), ISO 50001 (Energy Management, Spomasz).
Here is a selection of several fundamental Smulders Corporate Social Responsibility principles and policies.
A leading environmental policy
Considering that the majority of its activity is in the market of offshore wind energy, Smulders has a good expertise and know-how which it wants to share with its partners. Its aim is to become a reference and to set standards for future oﬀshore wind energy projects.
Concerning carbon emissions, Smulders uses a particular tool called ‘the CO₂ Performance Ladder’ which helps companies to improve in areas such as energy savings, eﬃcient use of materials and waste management.
In May 2016, Smulders became the first large company in Belgium to obtain the level 5, the highest level of the Ladder.
Energy management tools and strategy
ECO Design principle
An example of a good environmental practice resulting from the CO2 Performance Ladder is the ECO Design principle. This strategy consists in remodeling the initial client’s design so that fewer raw materials, like paint or steel, need to be used. Indeed, according to the LCA studies, savings on raw materials offer the biggest CO2 reduction.
This approach was implemented for the viaduct for the Haags Startstation Erasmuslijn and for the industrial construction JBF. The use of the ECO Design in the latter enabled to save 450 ton of steel on the original design, which resulted in a 625 ton CO2 reduction.
2015 priority: compressed air
Based on earlier energy audits, a wide range of possibilities was identified to reduce the cost and emissions related to compressed air. These opportunities have been further investigated and implemented during 2015.
- Reducing pressure from 9 to 7 bar where possible;
- Periodical leak detection and repairing leaks ;
- Preventive maintenance of the air nozzles;
- Putting a timer on the compressors (night, weekend);
- Research: switching from pneumatic to electric gear and switching from blowing to vacuum-cleaning.
In cooperation with ESAB, Smulders implemented in 2016 a new technique for submerged arc welding, which consists in adding a cold wire (the ICE) to the two hot wires in the melt. Compared to the traditional welding technique, the ICE technique saves energy (33%), improves the efficiency (50% higher welding speed), and lowers flux losses while increasing the quality of the weld.
Encouraging good environmental practices
Moreover, the company supports responsible businesses such as Puro Fair Trade Coffee which, on top of helping small farmers from developing countries, invest a part of its profit in the protection of the rainforestsin Brazil, Congo and Borneo for instance.
In April 2016, employees have also participated in the first litter action for Entrepreneurs of the Kempen, organised by IOK (waste management company). The initiative enabled to clear, in total, 1308 kg residual waste and 144 kg of plastic bottles, tins, cans and drinks and food cartons of business parks.
In order to control its environmental impact on the whole, Smulders requires each of its supplier to answer a thorough Sustainability Questionnaire. The questions concern specific topics of the supplier’s environmental policy such as the quality of the products purchased or of the packaging, the shipping and waste treatment policy, the standards and green initiatives pursued, et cetera.
Empowering employees to lead the way to sustainability
On top of daily efforts for a safe work environment, Smulders has set a framework which enables regular discussions about each employee’s career within the company, in combination with relevant training.
In addition, the company attaches a great importance to the opinion of its workers on employment situations, relationships between superiors and colleagues, working conditions etc.; consequently they organised satisfactory surveys and events like the Fire Starter Event (fall 2015) to enable employees and managers to exchange ideas regarding areas of improvement and evolution of the company.
Tools were put in place in order to ease the communication between stakeholders. The Best Practice system is one of them; its purpose is to enable internal reporting of problems, incidents and improvement suggestions. Recently, the Sustainable Entrepreneurship was added as a new topic for improvement suggestions.
Engaging with the local community
Conscious of the potential negative externality it might generate on its surroundings, Smulders has significantly invested in equipment that reduces noise and odour pollution.
In the past, Smulders already invested in the reduction of environmental nuisance amongst others by placing sound barriers.
More recently, the company installed an autothermal afterburner in order to eliminate the smell nuisance from the painting process. Autothermal means that the burning process operates independently and that it is not needed to add extra fuel. The advantage of this technique is that it destroys the solvents from which the smell pollution originated, preventing nuisances to the direct environment.
In 2015, the company handed 30.500 euros to Kom op tegen Kanker (Anticancer Fund) on family day. Half of the money was raised by the staff throughout the whole year. All Belgian facilities contributed by organising activities such as Zumba lessons, beer tasting sessions, cooking classes and more.
Cooperating with local schools, Smulders organised events such as ‘A Sandwich of Business’ in April 2016 to familiarise elementary school pupils with ‘business’ through the intervention of directors and managers of the company.In addition, Smulders offers a variety of internships to local students for the development of their practical skills. It also sponsors activities organised by local youth clubs.
Operating a rigourous internal policy
Decisiveness, Respect, Customer Orientation and Teamwork are the four core values native to Smulders collaborators and stakeholders.
Smulders requires that both employees and their subcontractors meet the highest standards and sets its target to zero accidents. For this reason, Smulders’ operations are based on carefully documented working methods: risk analysis is performed on an ongoing basis and keeps track of all the production phases of projects.
The ambition is, starting with a “reactive” way of thinking about safety and its rules, led by natural instincts, to achieve a proactive and interdependent way of seeing safety through teamwork in order to feel a certain pride of conforming to the rules.
Managers are clearly identified as ambassadors to promote and control the implementation of safety rules. For instance, 12 working sites per year might be visited by managers in order to achieve “security walk-about rounds”. After their visit, the managers will report on the respect of the code of conduct on the working site.
Another fundamental element for Smulders is that everyone is responsible for the others behaviour. As such, a good or bad behaviour has consequences on everyone’s “bonuses” or “penalties”.
Of course, all of this is supported by investments in adequate and safe equipment and appropriate training program.