The reliability and performance of our products are therefore critical to our customers, as they directly contribute to the safety of their employees on the shop floor, the quality of the products they manufacture, the efficiency of their processes and their environmental impact.
More than 60 years ago in 1960 Foseco developed the FEEDEX exothermic sleeve that reduces the amount of metal needed in the foundry process and therefore improves yield and reduces energy consumption. Back in 1989 we introduced the ECOLOTEC process, which offers an ‘environmentfriendly’ alternative core making process when compared to the conventional organic gas-cured systems available.
A year later in 1990 the ‘Mobile Degassing Unit (MDU)’ process was invented. MDU degassing units are an automated metal treatment system for the environmentally-friendly degassing and cleaning of aluminium and copper alloys. For the introduction of the MDU we were honored with the Queens Environmental Achievement Award in 1993.
Today sustainability is one of the most pressing issues facing the world. Nowhere is this pressure likely to be felt more than in essential heavy industries, such as the global foundries sector. The world cannot live without the vital products made by foundrymen and women around the world. However, in consuming high amounts of energy and resources, as well as generating various pollutants and hazardous waste materials, the industry faces significant sustainability challenges.
Therefore, our focus is still on innovative solutions which deliver a number of environmental benefits, including reduced consumption of materials, less scrap and waste and improved metal yield and energy consumption, which, in turn, result in lower CO2 emissions. We recently launched SEMCO FF range of waterbased coatings designed to reduce evolved formaldehyde emissions, these coatings support foundries’ compliance with the latest EU regulations.
One of the key drivers of the operational and environmental performance of a foundry is the metal yield – being the weight of metal in the finished castings as a percentage of the total metal melted to make those castings. Significant energy (with its associated CO2 emissions) is required to melt metal, so foundries are focused on metal yield to reduce costs and drive environmental efficiency. For example, thanks to our FEEDEX VAK sleeves, a customer’s mould was completely redesigned bringing the metal yield to more than 70%.
We also developed a new, insulating lining system for use in dosing and low-pressure furnaces in Aluminium foundries. The INSURAL lining, which is delivered ready to install, combines energy savings in combination with reduced waste through long service life and resistance to oxide build-up.
A final piece in the sustainability puzzle is the use of the latest digital technologies to improve foundry processes – an innovation dubbed Foundry 4.0. Digital solutions offer the ability to network, monitor and precisely control processes as never before. This results in foundries that are more efficient and productive, bringing both financial and environmental sustainability benefits.
For example, SMARTT is a process control software that drives the Foseco MTS 1500 degassing and melt treatment unit. The Intelligent Coating Unit (ICU), automates the process of measuring and controlling the dilution of refractory coatings to ensure the correct consistency is maintained and the optimum properties for application are maintained. The new FERROLAB V measuring system, meanwhile, provides advanced easy-to-use thermal analysis of liquid iron, resulting in consistent quality, less variation in casts, and ultimately a reduction in scrap rates.
Alongside our customer focused approach, at a group level we have for many years worked to improve our own operations through a range of energy conservation programmes and environmental initiatives, safety and compliance activities and human resource plans, as well as supporting charitable and outreach activities in our communities.
2020 marked a new beginning in this journey. Vesuvius plc launched an initiative to incorporate all of these Environmental, Social and Governance programmes into a coordinated sustainability programme, developing a new governance structure to support our objectives and a new set of targets to direct our efforts. We also set an overarching objective to reach a net zero carbon footprint at the latest by 2050.
In October 2020, Vesuvius plc became signatories to the UN Global Compact, making a formal public commitment to support its principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to engage in activities which advance the development of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Our goal: to create a better tomorrow for our planet, our customers, our people and our communities. In Germany and Brazil for example all our plants have switched 100% to the use of green electricity, in South Africa a new burner system has been installed to cut CO2 emissions by up to 15%, which correlates to an annual emissions reduction of 13,000 tonnes of CO2.
On our first Sustainability Report, we outline the measures we are taking to move towards achieving our objectives. We explain how we manage our impact on society and the benefi ts of our work. Vesuvius Chief Executive Patrick Andre said: “Sustainability is very much at the heart of what we do. From our very beginnings, our core business has been to improve our customers’ operational performance.
This delivers several environmental benefi ts, including reducing use of materials and generation of waste, improved metal yield and reduced CO2 emissions. As a company, we do not have a substantial environmental footprint. However, we do have a signifi cant opportunity to help our steel and foundry customers drive improvements in their environmental performance.
Our environmental objectives revolve around fi ghting climate change by reducing our own CO2 emissions and helping our customers reduce their own CO2 footprints. We have set ourselves the goal of reaching a net zero carbon footprint at the latest by 2050.
Three questions to Alexander Laugier-Werth, Vice Preseident Sustainability at Vesuvius
We live on a wonderful planet. But it is becoming increasingly clear that resources are limited. If we are to continue to live well, we cannot avoid changing our behaviour. The importance of sustainable development is becoming increasingly clear. Companies are therefore challenged to think of completely new approaches to make their contribution. Alexander Laugier Werth, VP sustainability at Vesuvius, has given some thoughts on this. There are increasing demands for CO2 reduction.
How is Vesuvius responding to these demands?
We are working on all fronts to combat climate change. Internally, we are improving the energy effi ciency of our processes, and gradually migrating from fossil fuels to renewable energy. More importantly, we are helping our customers to improve the performance of their production processes, resulting in reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions. And we are preparing for the future by increasing the proportion of sustainable products in our portfolio of new developments.
Do sustainable products offer a competitive advantage?
Absolutely! Our society‘s expectations in terms of sustainable development will continue to grow. Our customers, who by virtue of their business are major consumers of energy, want to meet the particularly complex challenge of reducing their emissions while controlling and improving their costs.
We have a clear responsibility to assist them in doing so. The more our solutions help them, the better our business performance.
In addition to products for your customers: In which other areas does Vesuvius act sustainably?
Our commitment to sustainability is very comprehensive.In addition to CO2 emissions, our environmental commitment is to signifi cantly reduce waste of all kinds and to increase the proportion of recycled materials in our products. Our social commitment includes the health and well-being of our employees, diversity and inclusion, access to education and training, and improving the living conditions of the communities in which we operate