Partnerships for sustainable success
Sulzer strives to become best-in-class in whatever the company does for reinforcing its sustainable competitive advantage. A strong customer orientation combined with technology leadership is the foundation of the company’s strong market positions. Sulzer aspires to be a reliable partner providing a high level of service and innovative, value generating sustainable solutions that help its customers shape sustainable economies. The company strives to sustain its customers’ and its own success, by
- Ensuring sustainable market success through technology leadership
- Grow service business and exceed customer expectations by providing outstanding services
- Driving continuous operational performance across the organization
- Fostering cooperation to increase value for shared customers
The deliverance of outstanding services and leading technologies that shape sustainable economies requires Sulzer to continuously improve its own processes to meet our objective to create sustainable value for its customers and Sulzer. Sulzer develops cross-divisional programs such as the Sulzer LEAN methodology and the Safe Behavior Program (SBP) that will provide the necessary guidance and instruments to act safely when e.g. increasing customer responsiveness and speed. Sulzer typically offers its products in a B2B environment. The products are part of solutions that are developed in collaboration with value chain partners that help shaping sustainable end-markets.
Bringing sustainable, innovative solutions to market
Bringing innovative solutions to market is a capital-intense venture that starts by translating the customer’s voice in clear needs. After intense consultation and clarification, a priority-setting and alignment process is initiated. The outcomes feed into Sulzer's innovation strategy and processes and trickle down in the R&D strategy with the aim of capitalizing on Sulzer’s and its partner’s technological knowhow.
The company aims to strengthen its position as the engineer of leading sustainable technologies. To achieve this, a strong innovation culture combined with a solution portfolio in the areas of energy, water, and materials processing is key.
Continuous innovation creates the competitive edge that enables Sulzer to operate profitably and retain attractive market shares. The company seeks to join forces with partners to meet some of our future’s greatest environmental and societal global challenges. Sulzer believes that exceptional challenges such as the decarbonization of energy, developing solutions for water scarcity, and providing food for a growing world population ask for unconventional solutions. Consequently, the company collaborates not only with traditional partners such as customers, suppliers, and universities, but also with its peers (in joint ventures) and/or industry-oriented corporations in clearly defined fields of research or time-limited projects. Already today, most of Sulzer's innovations build on these collaborations; strengthening its engagement in open innovation is inevitable.
As a result, Sulzer is a renowned technology leader in various technologies that are used today in solutions and services that help shaping the sustainable economies and societies of tomorrow. The following examples provide a good selection of Sulzer’s eco-friendly solutions:
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)
Concentrated Solar Power has great potential as a renewable and clean source of energy with nearly unlimited resources, but needs to become more competitive. Sulzer offers performance-critical applications to help its customers make CSP more efficient and competitive.
CSP plants are criticized for their high capital and investment cost, low output, and being heavily subsidized. CSP’s considerable amount of material, land, and water consumption to generate electricity make it a relatively cost-inefficient technology in spite of free fuel. In 2012, CSP faced drastic cuts in subsidies, making effective innovation, cost reduction, and optimization of technology inevitable, if CSP wants to compete with other energy sources and deliver more than 11% of global electricity. Improving current technologies with e.g. advanced dry cooling (up to 80% water savings) to improve parabolic trough plants’ efficiency, and adopting new technologies such as Fresnel (up to 40% land), Tower and Dish in suitable geographic regions will be inevitable.
Sulzer has 20 years of engineering, manufacturing, and assembly expertise in performance-critical technologies for solar power plants. It offers a comprehensive pumps and services portfolio, innovative, cost-effective large-scale coatings (mirrors) as well as absorption and anti-reflection layers to increase efficiency of thermal solar-power plants. In 2012, amongst others Sulzer Pumps Spain won a contract to deliver a selection of process, ring section, axially split and end suction range pumps (BBS, ZF, MD, ZPP and APP) for 2 new 50 MW Parabolic Trough Collectors Concentrated Solar Power Plants in Spain. The customer needed reliable pumping solutions for heat transfer fluid (HTF) and boiler feed pump applications. For additional information, please click here. For the BBS, MD, APP pumps types Sulzer developed EPDs that contain product lifecycle related information.
Newly designed DLC coatings
Thin-film coatings with low friction properties increase the eco-efficiency of vehicles. Amongst others, Sulzer Metco develops and applies diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings to engine components in order to reduce friction losses. These coatings are characterized by very low friction resistance, extreme hardness and are self-lubricating. Sulzer Metco’s DYLYN™ family of coatings contains a C:H:Si:O network layer, which can additionally be doped with other elements and modified with further layers to meet customer requirements. The low inherent roughness and the special doping of the DYLYN™ coatings improve running performance and stabilize the coefficient of friction in oil-lubricated systems. The unique construction of the DYLYN™ coatings and their low defect rate guarantee an excellent performance and give higher corrosion resistance properties compared to standard known DLC coatings. Furthermore graphitization resistance is guaranteed for temperatures up to 400 °C and provides an important distinctive coefficient of friction, hardness, and stability over an extended temperature range. The more engine parts that are coated, the greater the reduction of friction, wear protection in abrasion loss and improvement in efficiency. Fuel consumption savings in double-digit percentages and significant reductions in CO2 emissions by 2 to 3 grams per kilometer are possible thanks to the DYLIN™ coatings.
Sulzer’s DYLYN™ coatings have several advantages for engines:
- Reduction of friction losses. On pistons and other vehicle parts DLC significantly decreases the power losses in engines.
- Increased lifetime through improved wear resistance, and reduced abrasion, corrosion, and wear
- Comparably high graphitization resistance
- Low intrinsic roughness and defect rates, giving high corrosion resistance properties.
- Reduced noise and emissions
- Self-lubricating properties
- Lower energy and fuel consumption
2nd generation Biofuels
The worldwide demand for transportation fuels continues to grow while the reserves on fossil fuels are depleting. Sulzer offers process solutions and complete industrial plants for the purification of biofuels produced from food and non-food biomass covering as well advanced waste-to-energy concepts.
First generation biofuels (derived from sugar or starch crops) compete with the food chain. This may result in unsustainable situations where emerging, biomass producing economies face the risk of food scarcity due to their export of food crops to mature economies for biofuels production. Second generation biofuels are derived from cellulosic sources that do not compete with the food chain, resulting in a higher sustainability potential and GHG savings. Examples are switch grass and wood.
In 2011, Sulzer delivered a skid-based bioethanol distillation unit to the Finnish company St1 Biofuels Oy that recovers bioethanol from fermentation broth. St1 produces these second generation bioethanol transportation fuels from waste and industrial process residues. The dehydrated bioethanol is subsequently blended into petrol. Sulzer developed the process concept in close cooperation with St1 and was responsible for critical project steps such as testing, basic and detail engineering, including manufacturing of the entire distillation module. Sulzer Pumps delivered the process pumps that operate efficiently and reliably in advanced biorefinery processes.
Sulzer offers the possibility to revamp existing bioethanol purification plants by integrating an additional membrane drying section. The overall plant profitability thereby increases by a reduced energy consumption and higher throughput. Sulzer’s unique heat-integrated bioethanol distillation and dehydration process is customer tailored. It involves a technology solution that makes low capital investment and low operational costs (energy savings through optimized utilization of both technologies) possible. Solving these types of complex heat integration issues in existing bioethanol plants involving various recycle streams are supported by a close cooperation with the customer during the development phase. For additional information on biofuels, please click here.
In 2012, wind power saw the greatest global capacity additions of any renewable technology accounting for 238 GW. Sulzer Turbo Services provides fast and competent repair and field services for on- and offshore wind parks supporting our customers to produce green electricity.
The offshore wind sector continued to expand with the use of larger turbines and moving into deeper water farther from the shore. High turbine availability is essential both to maintain the financial viability of the wind park and to maximize the positive environmental impact. For this reason, Sulzer Turbo Services provides now on-site wind turbine repair.
Sulzer Pumps Waste Water Solutions (WWS) in the United Kingdom is regularly called in to customer sites to replace or refurbish inefficient pumps that no longer deliver the required flow; inefficient pumping (e.g. blockages) with high run hours and electricity consumption is the effect. In these cases, the energy team analyses the installation and develops solutions that optimize the equipment’s performance, offer better process control and save considerable energy costs (and CO2 emissions) per year due to reduced kWh.
At one wastewater treatment site serving a population of 300’000, Sulzer Pumps assisted its customer to lower operating costs through lower energy consumption. The team responsible for Sulzer’s ABS wastewater products ran several tests which resulted in the replacement of twelve ABS ECOMIX RW mixers with the new ABS submersible mixers XRW. These new mixers offer long-term reliability, minimal maintenance, maximum equipment lifecycles and greater energy saving to cut power consumption and reduce the carbon footprint. They are equipped with the latest technology including a permanent-magnet motor and completed with a variable-speed drive. A confirmation test on-site showed a 38% decrease in energy consumption (from 13.34 kW to 8.30 kW). The payback period was a calculated 1.5 years.
Another customer called in WWS to refurbish a wet well to reduce its operation hours. The customer wanted to reduce the massive run hours and constant high wet well alarms. An assessment revealed that some outdated pedestals needed to be replaced and two new pumps of the ABS Effex range would reduce power consumption and improve efficiency of the installation. The pump running hours went down from 15 to 1 hour per day saving approximately 38700 kWh per year
R&D closer to customer base
In 2012, Sulzer decided to align its Research and Design (R&D) activities with its strengthened customer focus. Two groups of Sulzer Innotec, Sulzer’s separate R&D unit, were integrated into the divisional R&D organizations to further advance in its technology leadership. The Materials Solutions & Processing research group was integrated into Sulzer Metco, the Fluid Technology group is now part of Sulzer Pumps. The concentration of R&D activities shall result in a more systematic approach to address market and customer needs. The two Innotec units primarily working for external customers - Diagnostics & Certified Testing and Production & Engineering - remain independent and keep the name Sulzer Innotec.
All divisions regularly review customer satisfaction. Formalized feedback instruments and methods such as customer surveys are frequently used and regularly updated.
Sulzer Pumps conducts annual customer satisfaction surveys alternately for both the New-equipment and the Customer Support Service Business. An independent research institute interviewed a representative sample of more than 450customers. The customers were most satisfied with top measures (specified by them). In the Customer Support Service business, the indicator for working safely on the customer's site improved further. For the new business, the measures regarding the expertise and product quality and reliability also improved. The survey also includes benchmarking against competitors: In 2010 and 2011, overall customer satisfaction with Sulzer Pumps compared with satisfaction with other competitors remained stable. In November 2012, the division sent out the 2012 customer questionnaire for Customer Support Services business.
Sulzer Metco surveyed more than 7500 customer contacts in 2010. The survey, conducted in collaboration with an independent research company, provided important insights as to how customers perceive Sulzer Metco and their expectations of Sulzer Metco. The feedback encouraged the division to extend its technology, product and service portfolios with laser cladding and cold spray technologies, as well as to increase production capacity and capabilities in North America and Europe and to put revised processes in place to better understand the customer's voice. In 2012, Sulzer Metco surveyed more than double the number of contacts. As in previous years, Sulzer Metco will be implementing improvement measures based upon the feedback provided.
At Sulzer Chemtech, customer satisfaction is continuously monitored via several key performance indicators (KPIs) at various organizational levels. Some of these indicators are reviewed on a regular basis in customer surveys. As an outcome of the evaluation and interpretation of the latest survey results, Sulzer Chemtech management was able to introduce new and redefine existing indicators to make them more substantial. Indicators such as product / service quality, on time delivery (OTD) and, for specific markets, lead time, were successfully implemented resp. updated. The implementation of the LEAN strategy deployment process at multiple levels (BU and sites) ascertains a monthly review of the critical KPIs by the management. In the service area Sulzer Chemtech has a “zero tolerance” philosophy (0 accidents, 100% on time delivery with satisfactory quality), and processes and training programs are developed under the continuous improvement process.
Sulzer Turbo Services US Houston Inc. in La Porte, USA has implemented a biennial cycle in which the site sends out customer surveys. To increase user-friendliness and the response rate, the latest customer survey was sent out electronically in early 2011. As reported extensively in the Online Sustainability Report 2011, the site initiated measures to improve processes further and strengthen customer partnership in 2012. The site plans to conduct the next customer satisfaction survey in 2013.
Quality of product and service solutions is a vital aspect of customer satisfaction. Sulzer solutions are renowned for their high durability, reliability, and innovative technologies. To continuously improve quality performance, all manufacturing and services sites shall, as a minimum, be certified according to the quality management system ISO 9001.In 2012, 96% (2011: 79%) of all employees worked at sites that have received the ISO 9001 standard for quality management systems. The sites measure product and process quality against several key performance indicators (KPIs). Continuous improvement, strong customer orientation, and compliance with all relevant product and process norms and standards enable Sulzer to be the partner of choice.
On the divisional level, Sulzer is tracking and evaluating the three key indicators “number of customer complaints”, “on time delivery” and “cost of poor quality”. The number of customer complaints is serving as one indicator for the level of customer satisfaction and as a source of continuous improvement. Another important parameter to measure customer satisfaction is the percentage of projects supplied on time. The trend of improving on time delivery (OTD) rates has continued into 2012. The development of “cost of poor quality” is an indicator to measure the effect of continual improvement initiatives. In 2013, the internal SURE project will drive the harmonization of quality KPIs throughout all Sulzer divisions to improve Sulzer’s information management system on the corporate level.
At Sulzer Pumps the manufacturing facilities are responsible for quality management. To improve overall quality performance of the division, Sulzer Pumps is planning to strengthen the interaction between the sites to increase the information exchange. The idea is to share best practice and learnings sites can implement to improve their Key Quality Performance Indicators (Q-KPIs).
In 2012, the emphasis at Sulzer Pumps was on operational LEAN activities and projects to improve its Q-KPI “on time delivery” (OTD). The division expects to achieve quality and customer satisfaction improvements from these LEAN projects. Sulzer Pumps’ performance on “Total Failure Cost”, which is measured as “Total Internal Failures” plus “Warranty” plus “Liquidate Damage”, is on track.
Sulzer Metco currently measures, among others, two main quality KPIs on the divisional level. These indicators are “Delivery to Promise” and “Cost of poor Quality”. On Business Unit and site level additional individual indicators are also tracked as needed. “Delivery to Promise” measures the amount of deliveries that are delivered on the promised delivery date. “Cost of poor Quality” does sum up the costs of quality related deviations. Typical categories for “Cost of poor Quality” are job cost performance, rework, scrap and warranties. Some business specific categories might be added. The “Cost or poor Quality” KPI was implemented during 2012. In 2013, a stable reporting can be expected. Sulzer Metco participates actively in projects (e.g. SURE) for standardization of KPIs throughout the Sulzer organization. Further quality Key Performance Indicators might be set up in 2013.
Sulzer Chemtech again was able to improve its on time delivery to levels well above 90% after implementing numerous LEAN initiatives. The number of customer complaints is at the same level as the previous year. Cost of poor quality has increased by some 50% mainly influenced by three warranty cases.
Sulzer Turbo Services launched a new monthly quality Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reporting system in 2011, which was successfully established in 2012. The KPI system includes warranties, internal and external non-conformances, on time delivery, and lead time. For 2012 general targets have been set that allowed to define a baseline for the division. In 2013, sites will define individual targets based on the achievements in 2012. Additionally, a division wide program will be launched to systematically analyze deficiencies in order to continuously improve the division’s quality performance. The KPIs and the improvement program will strongly support the organization's aim to exceed customer expectations.