Sustainable progress

Over the last decades, GF has clearly demonstrated its commitment to sustainability. The 2016–2020 Sustainability Targets are closely and clearly linked to the company’s overall business strategy. As such, sustainability is a key driver for differentiation, value creation and risk management. The close collaboration with our customers is of utmost importance, allows GF to deliver innovative products and services that support them in producing more efficiently as well as to achieve their own sustainability targets. GF solutions and products focus on safeguarding water supply, reducing emissions, and improving energy efficiency.

For GF, to conduct its business sustainably means strict adherence to environmental as well as to social codes and standards wherever it operates. Therefore, all production facilities are required to be in accordance with ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety). Energy-intensive sites must be additionally certified in accordance with ISO 50001 (Energy Management).

The introduction of the Sustainability Targets 2016–2020 led to the definition of action plans to reach the targets at all levels of the corporation. Consequently, a series of projects and measures were defined, which deliver significant results towards achieving these targets.

Sustainability Targets 2020

GF’s Sustainability Targets not only relate to the company’s own production and sales facilities but also to the impacts of GF’s products and services along the whole value chain. According to this approach, the set of targets focuses on the areas of “Procurement and Logistics”, “Environment and Energy”, “People and Safety”, and “Products and Innovation”.

The United Nations (UN) challenges the private sector for leadership in dealing with poverty, inequality, and climate change. Linking GF’s strategy and targets even more to society’s most pressing needs and responding to the UN call, GF’s focus areas are now even stronger aligned with several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example with SDG 6 “Clean Water and Sanitation”. This alignment included the participation in the pilot program SDGXChange and conduction of respective workshops at GF Piping Systems.

More detailed results of this interesting journey will be provided in the Sustainability Report 2017 that will be published 2018.

Focus 2017

The year 2017 focused on the realization of the first actions in order to achieve the 2020 Sustainability Targets. Preliminary data1 analysis confirms that overall all GF divisions are well underway in reaching the 2020 Sustainability Targets. The focus for 2018 will therefore be to implement additional projects and measures in each division and company to achieve the targets in a timely fashion.

1Due to the implementation of a new sustainability reporting software the data analysis contains data from the first half of 2017.

Procurement and Logistics

Ethical conduct and sustainability is absolute imperative for a globally active company. For GF, long-term and trusting relationships with suppliers are of crucial importance. Furthermore, the legally compliant conduct of suppliers as well as environmentally friendly and efficient transport solutions are not only part of our compliance but also contribute to achieving business goals.

Sustainability target 2020

Enable eco-friendly and socially responsible supply:

86%

of GF Piping Systemsʼ suppliers have signed the Code of Conduct in 2017

During 2017, the vast majority of GF suppliers have signed the Supplier Code of Conduct (GF Piping Systems 86%, GF Automotive 75%, GF Machining Solutions 82%). Therefore, one of the procurement and logistics targets 2020 is almost achieved. Additionally sustainability criteria are increasingly integrated into the supplier evaluation. GF has further started a process to identify high-risk suppliers and to follow up with selected companies to support them in improving their adherence to standards and codes.

For 2018, we foresee an in-depth analysis of GF’s entire value-chain. The aim is to identify additional opportunities to improve GF’s own, supplierʼs as well as customers’ sustainability performance. This analysis will be followed up by projects in collaboration with selected partners.

Environment and Energy

Climate change, the finite nature of fossil fuels and major natural resources as well as a steep increase in demands for energy are still the most crucial challenges for society and the private sector in general.

Sustainability target 2020

Reduce non-recycled waste by 10%:

20%

of non-recycled waste was reduced for example at the GF Piping Systems plant in Traisen (Austria)

The improvement of 10% in energy efficiency is one of GF’s environmental Sustainability Targets. Preliminary analysis of 2017 data shows that major improvements were achieved due to global initiatives to increase energy efficiency. For example the division GF Piping Systems invested in injection molding machines equipped with ecodrive function which allows energy savings of 30% during production. In particular GF Piping Systems and GF Machining Solutions contributed to these improvements.

However, alternative ways of producing energy and climate change adaptation increasingly provide opportunities for different actors to diversify and adjust their business models.

An excellent example of reducing CO2 emissions by using renewable energies is GF Piping System’s production site in Sissach (Switzerland). The site installed a photovoltaic area of 1’500 m2 on the roof of the production building, producing an output of 136’000 kWh per year. This compares to the energy consumption of 36 single family homes with four inhabitants and medium-level energy needs. Additionally, 68 tons of greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided.

The reduction of waste is another important sustainability target for GF. The analysis of preliminary 2017 data shows that all GF divisions are progressing to achieve a reduction of non-recycled waste by 10% until 2020. In addition to reducing waste, recycling or reuse instead of landfill has a significant sustainability impact. At the GF Piping Systemsʼ plant in Traisen (Austria) for example, non-recyclable waste could be reduced by 20% thanks to a project in collaboration with the cement industry. Filter dust of the production facility was collected on site and provided to the nearby cement plant for co-processing, thereby reducing use of natural resources.

More detailed data and case studies on GF’s environmental performance will be published in the 2017 Sustainability Report.

An excellent example of reducing CO2 emissions by using renewable energies is GF Piping Systemsʼ production site in Sissach (Switzerland)

On the roof of the production facility a photovoltaic area of 1’500 m2 has been installed

At the GF Piping Systems plant in Traisen (Austria) non-recyclable waste could be reduced by 20% thanks to a project in collaboration with the cement industry

People and Safety

Health and Safety 

GF’s continuing “Zero Risk” work safety campaign has triggered significant improvements in occupational health and safety. We observe in the division GF Automotive a significant decrease in the accident rate over the last years, from 44 accidents per 1 million worked hours in the baseline year (average of the years 2013–2015) to 30 accidents per 1 million working hours in 2017. GF Automotive is currently in phase 2 of the multistage “Zero Risk” campaign. The core of phase 1 was the organization of action days to raise awareness of various hazards. Phase 1 formed the basis for phase 2 focusing on lasting behavior changes. Thereby raising awareness for topics as illusion of invulnerability, compliance with rules and responsibilities are focused during the worldwide trainings. In 2017, around 3ʼ500 employees were trained with the target that all employees of GF Automotive will have been trained in these topics by mid-2018.

Sustainability target 2020

Reduce accident rate by 20%:

3’500

employees at GF Automotive were trained on the topic of work safety in 2017

The engagement of employees and management in the area of safety at work shows continued success. The accident rate decreased in all three divisions as preliminary data analysis shows and it is a significant progress towards achieving the targeted reduction of the accident rate by 20% until 2020. After the successful implementation of the campaign at GF Automotive, GF Piping Systems followed suit and also started a safety campaign.

Highlight 2017
Fostering flexible working models

The official launch of GF Piping Systemsʼ safety campaign took place in November 2017 but even before, GF Hakan Plastik in Turkey implemented an “Occupational Health and Safety Week” with the objective of raising awareness and training of employees. One of the activities stood out particularly: A lively theatre performance related to safety enabled the observers to understand and recognize common mistakes and assumptions around safe behavior. This project is part of an ongoing effort to make work safer and GF Hakan Plastik has been able to reduce its accident rate by 20% in comparison to 2014. GF Machining Solutions will kick-start the campaign in early 2018.

Another focus of people and safety is the well-being of employees and a 10% decrease in absence rate. GF Piping Systems conducted a global employment satisfaction survey among all employees in the divisions. The results are currently being analyzed and the Sustainability Report 2017 will provide further information. However, special attention will be given to reduce the absence rate by 10% until 2020.

Training

The GF Academy holds regular management trainings relative to leadership, financials, business, and project leadership as well as other pertinent business topics. In 2017 the GF Academy trained corporate wide approximate 300 participants. Further, the GF Academy was closely collaborating in establishing the trainings regarding the strategic initiatives on Value Selling and Design Thinking. During 2017 more than 500 employees received further training in Design Thinking and more than 2’000 in Value Selling. Both strategic initiatives are primarily carried out within the divisions. Trainings on 7 Habits and 4DX are continuously carried out to enhance collaborative work and strengthen execution skills. Over 500 employees were trained on 7 Habits in 2017. Furthermore, GF executes an annual holistic process reviewing talents and successors to management functions at a global level and reports in this regards to the executive committee as well as to the board of directors.

Anchored in the social environment

True to its fundamental values, GF supports and promotes cultural and social programs at its various locations, as well as activities that contribute to the common good. In 2017 around CHF 2 million were spent corporate wide on social involvement activities. In addition to this, some 30 GF companies support local activities, by making substantial contributions. The biggest contributions in 2017 went to the Corporation-owned Foundations Klostergut Paradies, the Iron Library, and “Clean Water”.

In the year under review, no contributions were made to political parties or to individual politicians. GF is member of various Swiss and international business associations and provided membership fees in the amount of less than CHF 0.1 million.

The Klostergut Paradies Foundation, that includes the cultural heritage site of a former Clarissan convent, houses not only important collections, but also serves as a training and meeting center for the Company. The Iron Library Foundation has the largest private collection of books on the subject of iron and industrialization. Together with the Group archive, it is the center of competence for maintaining the Group’s historical and cultural heritage.

GF has owned Klostergut Paradies in Schlatt (Switzerland) since 1918. Today it is used as a Corporate training center. In 2018 GF celebrates 100 years of owning Klostergut Paradies

Through its “Clean Water” Foundation, GF has been supporting a total of 142 drinking water projects worldwide since 2002. To date, the Corporation has invested almost CHF 10 million and has improved the lives of more than 300ʼ000 people with a sustainably better access to clean drinking water.

“Clean Water” Foundation

Cooperation with Caritas Switzerland:

7

new drinking water projects were approved in 2017

Since 2012 GF has been working closely with Caritas Switzerland on the implementation of drinking water projects. As part of this partnership, GF also offers know-how and technical expertise with a special focus on quality and hygiene. In 2017 the “Clean Water” Foundation approved a total of seven new drinking water projects, including Malawi, Myanmar, Uganda, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Kenya. In addition to its long-standing partners, the Foundation collaborates with the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) for the first time in the Myanmar project.

Products and Innovation

Innovation is one of the most important factors in providing superior value to customers and drives profitable growth across all three divisions. GF’s focus on innovation and on collaborating closely with its customers is a reflection that customers are at the heart of everything that GF does. This goes beyond new products and services. Understanding the exact needs of GF customers and responding quickly with solutions helps us to transform from a product and service provider to an integrated solution provider over the whole life cycle of products – enabling sustainability benefits all along the way.

Sustainability target 2020

GF provides CO2-efficient products :

25%

is the expected energy efficiency improvement brought by Microlution technology to gasoline engines

This approach to innovation delivered value across all divisions during 2017. An excellent example of how GF positively impacts clients’ sustainability efforts is Microlution, a GF Machining Solutions company based in Chicago.

Microlution is a leading company to produce parts with laser drilling machines that are, amongst other applications, facilitating the production of the next generation of gasoline fuel injectors. These gasoline fuel injectors need very precise micro holes to inject the fuel into the combustion engine.

Precision parts for watches produced by a Microlution Laser Machine

The Microlution ML-5 laser is able to increase energy efficiency by up to 25%

The precise micro holes in fuel injectors enable automobile engines to get more combustion from less fuel by creating more precise spray patterns. Translating this into numbers, it means that energy efficiency is expected to increase by up to 25% while furthermore a reduction of particulate matter during the start of the engine is expected. The increase in energy efficiency is a result of the higher compression ratios. 

A totally different application of these micro holes can be implemented in the context of medical devices. Micro holes, in this area, accelerate healing by precisely directing medication to targeted internal tissue, for example bone plates or in surgical devices.

Finding specific solutions in collaboration with our clients will become even more important in the years to come.