No one knows a company better than its employees. Emmi has used this fact for many years to boost its efficiency and cut its costs. After all, Emmi Operational Excellence (EOE) is fundamentally nothing more than an extensive employee suggestion scheme.
Emmi is convinced that the knowledge of its employees is also necessary to make the company more sustainable, because in addition to the four priorities that are managed top-down, the foundations for many aspects of sustainability in the company’s daily operations are set by the 5,700 people who work at Emmi.
To ensure that these foundations are set properly, a broad understanding of sustainability must be created among employees. Besides continuous communication around smaller and larger sustainability projects along the value chain, Emmi also uses an annual sustainability motto to achieve this awareness.
For the past ten years or so, Emmi’s culture has been expressed through five corporate values. “We are proactive (and not afraid of hard work)!” This value guarantees that Emmi tackles challenges bravely, openly and proactively.
For all the challenges to be tackled, however, the importance of focusing on the essentials must never be forgotten. Emmi therefore sees 2017 as a year for focusing its activities across the board – not only with regard to sustainability. For example, this motto can be construed in the context of resource savings or leaner processes and product ranges.
It’s not just Emmi that has a lot going on. The company is also constantly changing. One reason for this is a clearly defined growth strategy that is attracting an increasing number of new companies to the Emmi family. Another relates to major projects, such as the introduction of SAP. The changes are challenging Emmi employees at all levels, as they must demonstrate flexibility and support change or even initiate it themselves.
In line with the company’s sustainability motto “In motion at Emmi!”, projects were sought that are conducive to physical, mental or structural flexibility.
21 projects were put forward for the Emmi Sustainability Award. For the first time, Emmi’s foreign subsidiaries also submitted contributions.
The winners were chosen by a jury made up of external sustainability specialists and members of Emmi Group Management.
Energie-Agentur der Wirtschaft (EnAW)
Executive Vice President Switzerland / DCEO
Executive Vice President Europe
Chief Human Resources Officer
Until 31.12.2016: Executive Vice President Switzerland / DCEO
Winning project: “Onken radical”
The price pressure on milk products is very high in many places. So high, in fact, that it is now barely profitable to export yogurts from Switzerland to Europe. Onken yogurts, manufactured in Germany and sold in Germany and the UK, are faced with these challenging market conditions on a daily basis. With this in mind, the product development, procurement and marketing units within the Onken teams at Emmi Deutschland and Emmi UK focused on analysing and optimising the entire Onken concept. Without compromising on quality, the “Onken radical” project delivered massive cost reductions. One example of the savings generated was the development of a new standardised and environmentally friendly cardboard tray. As a result, this project not only makes economic sense but also helps protect the environment and avoid waste.
This project is worthy of the award because teams, companies and countries all worked together to critically examine the status quo and implement successful improvements. The approach they adopted also shows how complex problems can be successfully resolved by breaking them down into manageable and achievable sub-tasks.
2nd place: “New working hours model” at the Langnau site
At the Langnau site in Emmental, Emmi chiefly manufactures fondue as well as processed cheese slices and GALA Doppelrahmfrischkäse. Since demand for fondue is highly seasonal, Emmi Fondue AG had to find a solution to secure the availability of their workforce in a way that takes account of the seasonal nature of fondue production. To retain key Emmi expertise and protect as many jobs as possible, a new working hours model was developed in which weekly working hours vary depending on the season.
Wholly in keeping with the sustainability motto “In motion at Emmi!”, this project put fundamental aspects under the microscope. Born out of economic necessity, a solution was developed that is also socially compatible. All those involved were prepared to look for and accept transformative changes in a difficult situation. The outcome was the creation of a sustainable working hours model in Langnau that is not only supported by the employees but also meets business requirements.
3rd place: “Dynamic product loss management” at the Ostermundigen site
Product losses during production are a key area of focus in Emmi’s commitment to sustainability. Such losses are visible in both waste and wastewater. At Emmi’s largest Swiss production site, in Ostermundigen, Berne, sensors in the wastewater now not only register product losses or discrepancies in wastewater quality but also report them automatically. An alarm signals to employees that they must investigate the cause and remedy it immediately following a defined schema. This development helps reduce food waste.
Projects such as dynamic product loss management at Ostermundigen are important from a sustainability perspective, as they prevent wastage of valuable resources and thus help reduce the cost of raw materials and wastewater treatment. The measure also has a relevant ethical-social component in the context of the food waste debate.
„We know how!“ Most Emmi employees have taken this corporate value to heart. Thanks to their enormous technical knowledge and commitment, for example in Emmi’s Operational Excellence programmes, Emmi does many things better than other companies. The knowledge within the Group is priceless. This knowledge is even more valuable if it is widely spread and interconnected, so as many people as possible can benefit from it.
In 2015, Emmi looked for exemplary ideas on how knowledge is disseminated.
Winning project: “Palm oil-free Emmi ice cream”
This project was brought to life by Product Development, Production and Sales. At the heart of this project is palm oil – a sustainability topic that has been a subject of discussion across the globe. The demand for palm oil-free products is growing all the time.
At the request of Zurich Zoo, the project team had an open and honest exchange that resulted in Emmi changing its ice cream recipes to replace even the small amount of palm oil remaining in its glazes and stabilising agents.
This achievement has made it possible for Emmi to create added value for its ice-cream customers. The project also has the potential to reliably boost Emmi’s reputation as a sustainable company.
Second place: “Drying core team”
A major problem for many industries in Switzerland is brought into focus: a lack of qualified staff. In order to counter this, the “Drying core team” is taking various measures centred on industrial drying process know-how: the company draws on external expertise, and existing knowledge within the firm is documented and passed on.
Third place: “Filtration specialist team”
Led by Cream Cheese Development, plant supervisors from eight Emmi sites in Switzerland regularly share their experiences with one another. This sharing of knowledge is well organised and systematic. Specialist knowledge with regard to filtration is not only passed on internally, but also gained from partner companies. This means that know-how at Emmi is constantly growing.
The exchange of experiences in the “Filtration specialist team” also contributes to Emmi’s economic and environmental sustainability. The optimised purification processes can in turn reduce the use of chemicals and increase the lifespan of membranes.
Mobility is a key issue for a company like Emmi. First, products need to reach customers, and second, employees need to be mobile too – both in their professional and private lives.
Emmi has therefore called on its employees to develop ideas how Emmi can permanently optimise its mobility, particularly with regard to commuting and business mobility.
Winning project – Suhr: Mimo – mobile without a car
An additional 30,000 environmentally friendly commuter kilometres were travelled in five months. This avoided about 5.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
2nd place – Emmi Ostermundigen: Every kilometre counts
70 employees together saved 88,000 kilometres of driving or 15 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
3rd place – Landquart: Transporting large-holed cheese without frames
Thanks to a new secondary packaging system it is no longer necessary to use heavy wooden frames to transport large-holed cheese. In addition, the need to transport these back, the physically demanding handling and procurement and repair of the frames have been eliminated as well.
The Swiss are used to being praised as world champions in recycling. But what is true in sport applies here, too: never rest on your laurels! For this reason, Emmi designated 2013 „the year of the materials cycle“.
Winning project – Greener packaging
A cross-departmental project team consisting of representatives from Private Label Marketing, Packaging Development, Sales and Production looked at the ecology of the packaging of products produced for the retailer Coop. Nearly 130,000 kilogrammes of materials are now saved or replaced annually with greener alternatives (e.g., ice cream sticks from FSC wood).
2nd place – Dagmersellen: Nutrient recycling
Valuable organic materials – proteins and minerals in particular – leave the Emmi cycle in waste water. In Dagmersellen a portion of these organic residues is filtered out of the waste water as sludge and then processed into fertilizer and biogas by a partner company.
3rd place – Suhr: Increasing the rate of recycling
The site in Suhr boosted its recycling rate within just a few months from 80% to 84%. In doing so, it saved about CHF 80,000 in disposal costs. In addition, CO2 emissions are around 690 tonnes lower each year because plastics and TetraPak paper are collected separately.
Emmi takes in about 2.7 million cubic metres of water every year for its Swiss production sites. This is an important reason behind the company’s efforts to focus on projects to improve the quality of waste water and to recycle water.
Winning project – Molkerei Biedermann: reduction in waste volume
Rinsing water and product waste from the phase between two different production runs on a machine are collected, separated, and the reusable materials are sold to a pig farm, enabling the level of pollution in the water to be reduced by over 30%. One-off investments of CHF 27,000 have allowed annual savings and income from the pig farm totalling CHF 157,000.
2nd place – Suhr: OptiMimo in the flotation system
The flotation system where waste water is cleaned of protein and fat before being discharged into the public sewer is one of the most important downstream processes in milk processing. It controls the waste water’s chemical oxygen demand (COD) and its fat content, and therefore the cost of public sewage treatment, which is a significant cost factor. By investing in waste-water treatment to achieve better and more consistent waste-water quality, around CHF 120,000 is saved every year.
3rd place – Dagmersellen: Every drop counts
Numerous small projects in Dagmersellen have resulted in lower consumption of fresh water, reduced waste water and better waste-water quality. Annual costs have been cut by CHF 1.5 million, with waste-water quality contributing most of this reduction.