Environment & Safety
Environmentally friendly management is a key component of ALTANA’s corporate strategy. Our goal is to steadily reduce the energy consumption at all sites and in all areas, for example with sustainable thermal energy that heats up reaction containers for production and other processes. We also rely on a uniform safety culture. Technical and organizational measures contribute to enhancing work safety and anchoring the issue firmly in our employees´ minds.
When ALTANA acquired The P. D. George Company in St. Louis, U.S., in 1996, all of the participants knew that the new subsidiary had great potential but that extensive investments had to be made. The facilities at the over 80-year-old site were antiquated and did not meet ALTANA’s standards.
Today the company is one of the Group’s model enterprises, supplying the ELANTAS division with a wide range of products in the NAFTA region. The products insulate live electrical wires and protect, for example, motors, circuit boards and sensors from vibrations and heat.
The investments that have been made not only make the work at the plants more profitable, but also safer. “The employees see that their employer doesn’t only talk about safety in training,” says Dr. Susan W. Graham, who has been the Managing Director of ELANTAS PDG since 2004. “Our safety culture is lived by everyone here.” And this has paid off. Although sophisticated chemical substances are processed, the number of occupational accidents with lost work time has steadily decreased.
The Success Is Not a Coincidence
From 2005 to 2012 alone, ALTANA invested 35 million dollars to modernize the site. A total of 11 million dollars were earmarked for a new blending facility, the largest single investment to date in an ELANTAS company. The employees at the plant manufacture insulating resins for customers in keeping with the required application. “The old plant was something like an oversized kitchen blender,” says Susan Graham. “And as in a home kitchen, liquids invariably sprayed out.” After eight years of operation, the new blending facility is still one of the cleanest areas on the grounds. Separate tanks for each raw material in the plant minimize the risk of cross contamination in the end product. This means less cleaning and fewer filter changes, which saves time, reduces waste, and improves the safety for the employees. Customers can rely on faster delivery and top quality.
Targeted acquisitions have also expanded the technological basis, for example for the manufacture of resins used to impregnate parts in heavy electric motors. With the new emulsion reactor, ELANTAS PDG has, since 2005, manufactured a wateremulsified insulating material that does not need organic solvent. This not only protects the environment, but also enhances occupational safety for the employees and makes it easier for customers to process the material because they no longer have to deal with solvent.
Innovations flourish in this climate. With ELAN-Film™ flexible electric insulation, the ELANTAS Group has had a new and promising product since 2016. It was developed in St. Louis, where researchers, put simply, managed to coat flexible plastic films with liquid wire enamel. This film insulates entire wire bundles from one another and at the same time shields them from the motor’s steel core. By the way, ELAN-Film™ insulation is produced at a U.S. facility of ECKART in Schererville, Indiana. The sister company had purchased a pigment manufacturer there, but had no use for its coating plant. ELANTAS PDG certainly did.
In 2016, ELANTAS PDG was named a “Top Workplace” for the fourth year in a row. It has approximately 180 employees who view themselves as a community, and a low turnover rate among staff. This is thanks in large part to the leadership team led by Dr. Susan W. Graham. Since the beginning of 2004, Graham, who has a doctorate in chemistry, has headed ELANTAS PDG and has helped shape the company’s transformation. In 2015, the renowned industry association IEEE granted her the Golden Omega Award, honoring her for her corporate governance and her commitment to the electrical and electronics industry as well as to the betterment of the community where the plant is located, in St. Louis. Previously the prize had been given to such illustrious personalities as Dave Packard from Hewlett Packard and James van Allen, who discovered the eponymous radiation belts around Earth.
HIGHEST POSSIBLE TECHNICAL STANDARDS
The history of ELANTAS PDG began in 1919, when Pericles Demetrius George founded The P.D. George Company and made resins for the then just emerging electrical industry. In 1996, ALTANA acquired the company and made extensive investments to upgrade the site. This, together with an active safety culture, made ELANTAS PDG one of the ALTANA Group’s most efficient and safest sites. Nearly 19 thousand tons of insulating material were shipped to customers in 2016. It helps enable electrical and electronic devices – both everyday household appliances and large industrial machines – to be used safely and for a long time.
Our companies work continuously on reducing their energy consumption, for this cuts costs as well as CO² emissions.
Combined heat and power (CHP) is the focus of our efforts to modernize our plants for energy generation because it is especially efficient. Therefore we not only installed a CHP unit at our site in Ascoli, Italy but also ECKART began operating two gas-powered CHP units, each with an electrical performance of 499 kilowatts (kW), at its Hartenstein site. The volume of energy generated by the two units amounts to 7.5 gigawatt hours a year. As a result, the site can reduce its CO² emissions by 1,100 tons a year. ECKART uses the waste heat of the generators for three different tasks. Nearly half serves as a heat source for distillation. The other half is used to heat buildings in the winter and for an absorption cooler in the summer.
In the Netherlands, BYK-Cera participates in the “Clean Tec Region” initiative. At the Deventer site, the company has activated a photovoltaic plant to generate electricity. A new steam boiler will, combined with further measures, contribute to save 22,500 cubic meters of natural gas. Furthermore, BYK-Cera has partly switched the lighting to the efficient LED technology, both in Deventer and Denekamp. For travelling between those two locations, there is an environmentally-friendly vehicle with electric drive available (BMW i3). Also in the car pool in Wesel there are two such cars.
Among the organizational measures that have been implemented to improve safety is the introduction of certified management systems. In recent years, our Chinese companies have made considerable progress in this area. At our Zhuhai site, ECKART and ELANTAS each developed a safety standard consisting of twelve elements based on national and regional guidelines. In addition, both companies possess a corresponding safety certificate.
The introduction of efficiency programs, such as the 5S program based on Japanese management techniques, also 33 contributes to occupational safety. Experience shows that there are fewer accidents in an orderly working environment. A number of our U.S. companies have also adopted this approach.