“We’re seeing green”
Active environmental protection has been firmly enshrined on the Gutekunst Formfedern GmbH agenda for many years. The precision parts manufacturer achieved ISO 14001 environmental management certification back in 2004. At the same time, the position of environmental officer was created, and has been documenting all environmental activities in an annual report since then. While it was initially mainly about measuring and reducing emissions, today the subject covers so much more.
Power, water, thermal energy and waste – wherever smart savings can be made to the benefit of the environment and health, Hagen Gutekunst and his team adjust themselves. Binding targets structure the process, ideas from our employees inspire ambition. For example, what started five years ago with using rain water has now spawned a cornucopia of ideas and actions some of which, typical of Gutekunst, are the result of a culture of innovation that has no blinkers.
„Acting responsibly also means being credible in terms of environmental protection and fulfilling our own position as a role model.”
Example: Waste heat utilisation. As one of the first providers in the sector, Gutekunst consistently explored new avenues here: Instead of simply allowing waste heat to escape into the environment, it was used to heat the production halls. Today, it's a common form of energy conversion that involved some truly pioneering work on the part of the springs specialist – including financially: the new process was the company's biggest investment in the factory to-date.
Another module: energy savings through modern production technology. Key words: Energy efficiency. A sharp rise in orders and a growing fleet of machines may have pushed absolute consumption upwards in previous years. Yet the team in Pfalzgrafenweiler at the same time made considerable energy savings – of around 30 per cent! New laser machines purchased two years ago made this possible. At the same time, the company connected to the geothermal energy network – a welcome opportunity for the entrepreneur Gutekunst to use renewable energy to gain greater independence from the major energy suppliers.
The springs specialist is also stepping up to the plate when it comes to waste avoidance: wherever feasible, packaging is now made from recyclable material. With the exception of industries where special requirements permit only certain packaging solutions, opportunities are being maximised across the entire order book.
Hagen Gutekunst is carrying the momentum of this success forward to his next plan: he has already announced the installation of a photovoltaic facility for the coming year – the company's biggest environmental project to-date. "Our aim is to demonstrate that the entire production can be financed with renewable energies," explains the environmentally aware entrepreneur, whose motives are based more on his ideals than on economic reasons.
"Investments in environmental protection are exceptionally high in the industrial sector. A lot of companies shy away from it," says Gutekunst. "So everyone really has to decide for themselves how much responsibility for mankind and the environment is really worth to them. Acting credibly and fulfilling our own position as a role model is the key to our success. The fact that our customers share this conviction encourages us to carry on."