All business success stories are different, but they all share at least two fundamental factors: farsightedness and the ability to ask questions of oneself and to adapt. The 3D Laser company knows all about this: it processes lightweight steelwork, ranging from industrial components to objects for the home, from laser cutting and assembly to machinery for mass production and consumer goods. Its versatility is built on a management and production structure that is well organized and capable of satisfying the sector’s most varied requirements. Some years ago 3D Laser found itself at a crossroads and this led it to turn to Enel X.
The company’s core business is the processing of stainless steel for use in the food, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and when the firm’s growing turnover necessitated the construction of a new building in Canelli, in the province of Asti, a choice needed to be made about whether to pursue the old business model or to try something new. The management didn’t think twice: it was the right moment to look towards a modernization process that, while keeping a tight lid on costs, could project the company towards the circular economy, thus enabling a significant leap forward.
“It was 2017 and at the moment of making that decision it seemed right to make a change in terms of our environmental footprint,” says 3D Laser’s CEO Luigi Venturino. “We reflected on the fact that our company transforms a raw material that is 100% recyclable – stainless steel. It is a noble material that can be reused ad infinitum because it doesn’t degrade and for this reason, in addition to many others, it is certainly good for the environment. We figured that the production too should reflect this as much as possible, and that this would meet with the approval of our clients. So, when we moved to the new premises, we embarked on a journey that involved the use of clean energy and minimizing our environmental impact.”
The meeting with Enel X’s circular Economy Report
The new site was equipped with LED lighting, thermal insulation and innovative airflow systems for controlling the temperature, while for the supply of electric energy the company decided to get part of its power from renewable sources. It was difficult to ascertain, however, without the skill of a truly expert eye whether the company’s environmental impact could be reduced even more: 3D Laser therefore decided to look into this.
“When it was put to us to use Enel X’s Circular Economy Report, it seemed like an excellent idea to get experts from the sector to evaluate what else we could do to improve,” Venturino adds. “It was important to be led by an external voice because until then we had only been able to see things from an internal perspective.”
In the Corporate Circular Economy assessment Enel X analyses hundreds of indicators across the entire value chain: design, procurement, production, logistics, distribution, sales and post-consumption. The Circular Economy Report, which was produced at the conclusion of the analyses, contains precious information for the client: the company’s starting point, its strengths and weaknesses and, above all, a series of practical indications on how to improve its circular economy performance.
“Enel X followed us closely and we worked together in order to produce the Report. It was a useful endeavor and was also an eye opener because in some cases they asked us for data that we did not actually have, such as the consumption of individual machines that we had never calculated, or things like that. We then came up with those stats and today, thanks to that work and the elaboration of the data, we have far more information about our company.”
The report calculated the Corporate Circular Economy Score, the company’s level of “circularity”, at 39.7%. This is a good starting point because 3D Laser is already careful about its production and the organization of its processes, and recycles 90% of its raw materials, half internally and half externally. The company had chosen a share of electric energy produced from renewables, nevertheless it still wanted a specific plan focused on the circular economy.
A tool for improving company processes
“The Enel X report helped us to understand our level compared with firms involved in similar activities to ours. Initially we weren’t even aware of our performance level; discovering it was interesting and a source of great satisfaction that we have shared with our staff. We have already been certified twice but the procedure was different and with Enel X we found, for the first time, an external partner that studied our situation not only from the production perspective but also in terms of its environmental and energy impact.”
3D Laser sees the company as a complex entity that lives each day together and through the people that work there. Polluting as little as possible and having a low environmental impact therefore becomes an important goal in order for everyone to live better. The Energy Circular Economy Roadmap, the planning tool offered by the Circular Economy Report, assumes value as a work tool with which to make comparisons in order to decide future strategies and to plan more effectively.
“Our working practice was already cutting-edge: we have 4.0 machines that are numerically controlled and offer substantial energy savings, we perform continuous maintenance and already recycle a significant quantity of our raw materials. “The report did, however, provide some valuable tips,” Venturino goes on to say, “for example, that of using electric energy in a more rational way and based on specific times of day or replacing the lights with LEDs, also in a second site. The Site Energy Circular Economy assessment, the part of the report that studied our production infrastructure and its consumption, gave us much food for thought, in addition to confirming some things that we already believed. It advised us to build a photovoltaic plant, for example, and implicitly validated our strategy, which had already planned for this. Today in fact, the 330kW plant is operational.”
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