The Mercedes B 250 e glides silently on to the factory grounds and comes to a halt in front of the electric charging station in the car park. Andreas Fipp, head of industrial engineering and environment management at ASSMANN BÜROMÖBEL, has returned in the company car from an appointment in Melle. "Electric vehicles will dominate the future", he enthuses. "The electric car has belonged to our fleet since August. Our employees enjoy using it for short trips in and around Melle. Inexpensive travel with a neutral carbon footprint – it's just fantastic!"
Sustainability is an integral part of ASSMANN's strategy. This is why the Melle-based company completes a voluntary, annual audit according to ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 and EMAS III (environmental management), and also publishes a yearly sustainability report as confirmation of the continuous process of improvement [Link 4]. But which aspects contribute to good quality management and environmental protection?
Organised – standardised – sustainable
ISO 14001 and EMAS III are the relevant standards for environmental issues. Product longevity is a key factor here. Moreover, they consistently address questions of how to reduce power costs and make better use of materials, as well as how to integrate new, cost and energy-efficient technologies within the workflow. ASSMANN requires its staff to adhere to these principles. But it also demands that suppliers – 90% of whom are from the immediate region – satisfy and document environmental standards.
A good quality management system will always appraise the company's effectiveness and efficiency – continuously. How can customer and staff satisfaction be improved, and what can be done to continue streamlining production? Organisational improvements help tighten the workflow and consistently improve the operating procedures. At ASSMANN, a good example of this is the fully automatic machinery that has been installed at the company since 2012. This and many other corporate investments have doubled productivity over the last 20 years, although the workforce has remained essentially the same size.
Embedded in the corporate philosophy
During the 2016 audit, ASSMANN again succeeded in satisfying all of the requirements for certification according to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and EMAS III. "Sustainability is not a short-term project", says Andreas Fipp knowingly. "Companies that really want to operate sustainably will need a long-term strategy. This strategy must be firmly anchored in the corporate philosophy, and must be understood and implemented by all staff members as a matter of course."
ASSMANN has recognised how important this is, prompting management to take control of this area. In doing so, the company is already acting in the spirit of the revised standards that will be mandatory from 2018 and that place an even greater focus on customer satisfaction and management responsibility.