Being the industry’s only Italian company listed on the Stock Exchange means a lot from many perspectives, including the need for Biesse to be the first (if we are not wrong) to present a sustainability balance. It’s a process with ever new steps, including a hydrogen edgebanding machine.
“Also this year, we have finalized a few major projects on our way to sustainability, first of all the achievement of the UNI ISO 14001:2015 certification for Biesse spa related to our environmental management system”, said Sofia Provenzano, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager. “This is a major achievement that has forced us to reconsider the entire organization, in order to have a deeper insight of the factors that determine our environmental impact and to analyze the activities that have caused or might cause modifications to the environment.
A key step to deploy a number of improvements, such as increasing the energy efficiency of our internal power grid, with specific actions that have enabled us to increase self-consumption, i.e. the percentage of energy we use from our own photovoltaic system.
Biesse is not a power-hungry business, considering our manufacturing operations, so we have also focused on waste management and atmosphere emissions, which are irrelevant compared to other industries, but we have made further steps in these areas.
As Xylon readers know, the keyword at Biesse is “multimaterial”, and obviously, in all the domains where we operate, we have different attention, strategies, actions and results”.
Mrs. Provenzano, where do you start from, which are the first steps of such a complex process in an organization as big as Biesse?
“The foundation of any sustainability project is certainly understanding the problem and measuring the status and all indexes. This work clearly shows how you can take action to reduce your environmental footprint, going beyond the most apparent aspects such as energy demand and waste management, to focus also on all the indirect impacts that are an integral part of a company’s operations. This action is very complicated, as it implies the collection of big data also for many operations that are not directly controlled by our organization, but still are included in what we build, in the services we offer. For this purpose, it is essential for us to rely on data banks that enable us to associate our operations to emission values, to calculate our environmental footprint”.
“Let me add that the word “sustainability”, has been an integral part of Biesse’s business culture for a long time”, added Alberto Tuberti, Wood Product Management Director. “For many years, we have been pondering on these topics and how to transfer them into our products with tangible results that can be measured by our customers, decisions they can benefit from…”.
……just like your brand new hydrogen edgebanding machine?
“Exactly! A few months ago, we launched an edgebanding machined that has aroused interest and astonishment, equipped with our “HFS Hydrogen Force System” that generates power from water: through hydrolysis, we produce hydrogen and then use it as sustainable fuel for the edgebanding process, ensuring consistent quality.
As mentioned, this result is tangible and measurable, and it enables to apply edges with 7 percent less energy and fewer CO2 emissions compared with current technologies that use pre-glued edges: with one liter of water, we can apply up to 1.5 kilometers of edges”.
Forgive us, but in that case, you have created a real revolution, or at least the premises…
“Biesse’s “HFS” system has already been approved by the Swiss certification institute SGS and it has been adopted for a few years by some customers who helped us tune it up. We are now launching an entire family of edgebanding machines for medium and large companies, featuring “HFS” systems of different size, according to the needs of each user. According to the feedback of our beta testers, there are clear benefits they have reported: ease of use, high-quality application, low energy consumption and low operating and management costs, compared to glueless edgebanding technologies (laser, hot air, infrared etcetera).
We have executed several tests on edge bonding, and their tear resistance is very high; this combines with ease of use, in terms of operating speed, flexible management of edges with different color and thickness, ideal for flexible production systems.
We can generate enough energy to ensure the same application quality as any other process, a result – we must admit – that has surprised ourselves and the customers whom we asked to test this solution in their standard production cycles. And don’t forget that these machines can also operate with glue, if you want or need to for specific applications”.
Hydrolysis is a well-known process, but how did you imagine this application in edgebanding? And will it be possible to extend “HFS” to other types of machines?
“About the first question, I think everyone is realizing that demand is very “voluble”, the market is constantly evolving, and our success really depends on the capacity to offer different solutions.
At the same time, we believe that the “Hydrogen Force System” can really be a game changer, as witnessed by the enthusiastic reactions: now it’s up to us to present it to the market and see what shares it can win.
Let me stress that “HFS” has been developed exclusively for edgebanding: we don’t envisage applications in other operations, for which we have developed different solutions, as we are currently evaluating how we can extend the sustainability concept across our catalog. For machining centers, for instance, we have introduced a brand-new clamping system based on dynamic vacuum, which can effectively block all parts during the process, reducing pump consumption by 25 percent and significantly cutting CO25 emissions, all certified by an independent institute”.
“Sustainability, with all the topics included into this concept, is becoming a key topic for all kinds of businesses – said Sofia Provenzano – and therefore, it’s obvious to think about solutions that take such developments into account.
Also as relates to legislation, things are changing fast in Europe and around the world. Just think of the new regulations that have been introduced and will be introduced in the coming years, and the deep changes they will bring to many items, services and activities that belong to our everyday life. I am also referring to new reporting directives, which will enforce greater consistency in reporting, so as to be able to compare the virtuous actions of companies, for instance. It’s no longer just words or slogans, it’s the possibility for a customer or a consumer to compares reports that present comparable environmental indexes, forcing everyone to play the same game.
In my opinion, this new “environmental consciousness” has been perfectly interpreted by the lawmakers, who are the first supporters of the powerful acceleration of the environmental transition from a technical standpoint”.
“Things are changing fast – continued Alberto Tuberti – and we can easily anticipate that the most astonishing and smart innovations can move all the pieces on the chessboard. We believe that the strength of a company is measured with its capacity to introduce new solutions to the market with a smart approach, involving customers in this process. Evolution belongs to humans, it’s up to us to offer new possibilities to meet requirements that will be more and more critical in the daily life of each person.
Sustainability is a fact, it is already impacting the entire product chain, from technology manufacturers to consumers, from raw materials to the manufactured goods you can buy in a store.
For Biesse, it’s the umpteenth opportunity to play a leading role in a world that keeps moving, where we like to be “provocative agents”, showing that there is no limit to what we can do”:
“All of this is confronted with new generations that are very sensitive about the future of the planet and its resources, much more than their fathers or grandfathers. Change and transition must be communicated effectively; having or achieving a value is not enough, it must be known, appreciated and shared.
Companies, especially the bigger ones that address a wider audience, must pursue truthful and reliable communication, as this is what is needed: the consumer wants to make sure that the product he is purchasing is actually what it is declared to be. And this, like we said before, applies to Biesse’s entire policy in terms of sustainability and the important, and sometimes unexpected, consequences on the products that get out of our factories, laboratories, offices, service centers and customer support”.
by Luca Rossetti