Economic success and corporate social responsibility are inextricably linked. A sustainable and responsible approach is the only way to remain viable for the future. Consequently, at KSB we base our actions not only on economic principles, but also consider ecological and social criteria. We focus on adopting a responsible approach to our natural environment and to the people we deal with, be they business partners or employees. We are also committed to social issues.
As a company with global operations, we signed the UN Global Compact back in 2010, thereby undertaking to align our business activities with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards, environmental protection and anti-corruption. More than 12,000 companies and organisations have joined this UN initiative, among them many of our customers. We also require our suppliers to adhere to the rules set by the UN Global Compact.
Within our company, we use recognised certification systems to establish uniform high standards across the world in environmental protection, quality, and occupational health and safety. In the reporting year two more of our production plants were certified, which means that 34 out of the total 36 production sites are now operating in accordance with international standards.
However, we also view ourselves as multipliers, working to persuade other companies to adopt a responsible approach to people and the environment. We present our activities in this regard at various events. For instance, we took part in an awareness week organised by the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) , encouraging other companies to show greater social commitment.
At our Group headquarters in Frankenthal we also staged an innovation forum focusing on key future issues. This was attended by 150 representatives from the worlds of business, science and politics, and from relevant associations. One of the issues discussed was how mechanical engineering can help to respond to the key challenge of supplying a growing world population with sufficient water and energy.
Once again in 2014 we were involved in a series of social projects, including measures to tackle the effects of flooding and efforts to provide clean drinking water. In both of these cases we were able to help by donating pumps.
Another of our aims is to make an ongoing contribution to improving the local areas in which we are based. Traditionally, instead of giving Christmas presents, we have made donations to charitable causes, as was the case during the reporting year in Brazil, Germany and Austria. Financial donations were allocated to organisations supporting children, families, those in need and refugees. In Vietnam, donations of food were given to destitute families living near the plant we set up in 2012.
In India, we supported 14 different projects at the locations of our production sites. Our main focus was on helping establishments dedicated to children, women and the elderly. The aims of the supported projects included building and modernising water supply and waste water systems and sanitary facilities. Other projects helped charitable institutions to improve the everyday lives of the sick and disabled. KSB supplied one of these institutions with a solar energy system which is now being used for hot water and electric lighting. Overall, we provided funding of € 250,000 for social projects in India in 2014.
Our social involvement also includes initiative and commitment on the part of our employees. To mark the 25th anniversary of our Canadian company, KSB employees planted 150 trees in support of a local forestation project. In Germany, we provided hands-on help to our neighbours. One example involved our trainees making an urgently needed ramp railing for a local church. Employees in Halle took part in a charity run, raising donations for children with cancer and for other charitable objectives.
One of the key focuses of our social activities is education. In many countries, children and young people have only limited access to knowledge. In India, KSB sponsors children so that they can attend school, and in Indonesia we regularly provide educational institutions with learning resources and award scholarships to pupils. We also helped renovate a teaching establishment during the year under review. In Cambodia, we donated 145 bicycles to make it easier for pupils to get to school. Previously, the children had been forced to travel on foot for more than two hours every day.
In the light of demographic developments in many Western countries, the issue of education is also important to us in Germany. The threat of skills shortages affects us directly. As an innovative mechanical engineering company, we rely on qualified staff. We are particularly committed to the education of children and young people in Germany. As a founding member of the “Wissensfabrik – Unternehmen für Deutschland e.V.” [Knowledge Factory – Companies for Germany], we help schools and kindergartens to awaken young people’s interest in science and technology from an early age. We supply learning materials for use in experiments and practical lessons. We then help the teachers and kindergarten staff to make best use of these resources. We also support early-childhood language development through a story-telling project.
Our products and technologies help our customers to save energy and to protect the environment. Work processes in our own plants are designed to use as little energy and as few resources as possible. We are also continuously monitoring our production workflows. Our valve testing processes in Finland were modified in 2014 to reduce scrap levels. In Spain, a long-term project running into 2015 is achieving annual cuts of 15 % in the use of solvents. We regularly exchange less efficient electric motors in our production for energy-saving models, as was particularly the case in Turkey during the year under review.
Production processes inevitably also generate waste. What we strive to do is to create as little waste as possible. Where waste cannot be avoided, we collect materials like metals so that they can be reused. We also separate our waste, regardless of whether this is required under national legislation or not.
Aiming to reduce energy consumption, we review the efficiency of lighting installations. Where necessary, conventional lamps are replaced with energy-efficient lighting. In China, Mexico, South Africa and the USA, high-efficiency lamps were fitted in our production halls in 2014. In Turkey, our offices were equipped with environmentally friendly energy-saving lamps. To avoid unnecessary electricity consumption, we installed motion sensor-controlled lighting systems in Argentina, Austria and Sweden.
We support environmentally aware behaviour on the part of our employees. Through our Intranet, we provide staff with access to a car sharing platform. At many of our plants, special bicycle parking spaces have been provided to make it easier for staff to travel to work using this environmentally friendly means of transport. New bicycle parking spaces were created in Sweden during the reporting year.
At KSB, colleagues from all over the world work together. To keep travel costs and emissions as low as possible, we are focused on the expansion of our international video conferencing network. Six new rooms were added in 2014, which means that we now have 60 video conferencing suites across 21 countries. There are an additional 90 individual users whose computers have their own video systems. In total, some 12,000 video conferences are held in our company every year.
Environmentally aware behaviour can also be small scale. With this in mind, we raise employees’ awareness of ways in which they can save resources. Events are held to provide staff with useful tips on how to cut their consumption of energy and raw materials during their everyday work. Measures of this kind were implemented in such countries as Indonesia, Spain and the Czech Republic during 2014.
We aim to create a positive working environment for our staff in which they can achieve the best possible performance for our customers without any negative impact on their health. We achieve this with a company health management system embedded within the management systems in place. It covers five areas: We want to create a healthy workplace, promoting physical exercise and a balanced diet, looking after employees’ mental health and ensuring they have access to appropriate medical care. The aim is to improve employee satisfaction and to cut staff absences.
We focus on our employees’ sense of responsibility and offer them ways of promoting their health. These include preventive health measures. In Germany, for example, around 900 people took advantage of bowel cancer screening for those over the age of 45. The costs were borne by a health fund financed by KSB together with a health insurer. More than 400 employees received a free flu vaccination.
We have installed twelve defibrillators, at central locations, at our German sites. These can be used in the event of sudden cardiac arrest, when every second counts. Using the defibrillators, which give an electric shock, anyone can help to save a life in an emergency before professional help arrives.
In order to lower the risk of occupational accidents, we consistently apply the requirements of workplace safety. In Europe, our service staff received training in 2014 on how to avoid accidents when storing and using hazardous substances. Through regular training sessions, we also provide information on potential hazards in the workplace. In this way we help to ensure that the workplace remains safe and environmentally sound.