Easy Engineering: How do you see sustainability and what are your efforts in this direction?
Pedro Torres: The promotion of sustainability and environmental responsibility is an integral part of the values by which Controlar is governed.
The importance of this matter is such, that Controlar aligns its Sustainability Strategy with the three pillars defined by the UN for sustainable development: social, environmental, and economic.
The company integrates actions that contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive future into its goals in line with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) defined in the UN 2030 Agenda.
We are constantly working to meet international goals for reducing emissions and minimize the impact of activities in the company, expecting to reach CO2 neutrality by 2040.
2021 was a milestone in Controlar’s energy transition, and in 2022, driven by the goals set by our customers (OEM and Tier1), we maintained this alignment in parallel with industry requirements.
E.E: Tell us about the sustainable (energy) solutions that you implement (if any).
P.T: In line with our sustainability strategy, we have developed a series of projects and initiatives to further reduce our footprint.
One of these is the transition of our vehicle fleet to full electric/hybrid cars and the implementation of wall-boxes connected to our grid, which are mainly powered by renewable sources from our photovoltaic system.
In fact, in 2021 Controlar took a huge step towards a more sustainable and ecological activity, with the installation of new photovoltaic panels.
A very successful investment that allows us to sell surplus renewable energy to the grid and brings us closer to our goal of achieving carbon neutrality.
Other energy efficiency measures were implemented in terms of infrastructures, such as the installation of automatic controls (with sensors and timers) in lighting systems. Among the initiatives to reduce, recycle and reuse materials is an effective reduction of scrap and of waste segregation; the reuse or elimination of carton box packages and their replacement by reusable plastic bins; the use of plastic/wood containers instead of disposable pallets, and the implementation of waste awareness campaigns for employees. We have also improved the air quality through the continuous monitoring of the refrigeration equipment to detect GFEE (fluorinated greenhouse gases) leaks.
In 2022, we took another big step towards a more sustainable and ecological activity, with the acquisition of green/renewable energy (expected to be extended to all buildings by 2023).
Currently, all the energy consumed at the company’s headquarters comes from green energy, photovoltaic panels and the surplus produced, which allows us to reduce emissions, mainly from electricity consumption, and minimize the impact on the company’s activities.
E.E: Tell us about sustainability in production & distribution. Do you offer solutions for reinvigorating old equipment with new solutions?
P.T: The circular economy is driven at Controlar through the reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling of materials and energy wherever possible in its manufacturing and distribution processes and activities.
We continuously work on improving the machines design to foster modularity, upgrading, scalability, and ease of assembly. Ideally, we try to standardize our machinery so it can be reused in new projects.
Whenever possible, we establish take-back agreements with customers to take back the equipment for recycling at the end of its useful life.
Another good practice we have set is the reuse of packaging materials in the packaging of the equipment sold.
Moreover, Controlar local presence and proximity to locations where its largest global customers are, also enhances the reduction of the company’s carbon footprint.
To support us in the accomplishment of these actions, we established partnerships with entities that promote circular economy, namely Smart Waste and CEP (Circular Economy Portugal).
E.E: Tell us about R&D and innovation.
P.T: The growth of the Controlar group has been largely based on the strong commitment to Innovation practices and on its sustained investment in Research and Development.
Our areas of activity require constant technological evolution, with a thorough surveillance of our main players’ innovations in the automotive sector to anticipate the needs of this market, follow directives concerning sustainability, and offer innovative and sustainable solutions.
We have been involved in several R&D projects in partnership with scientific and technological entities that advocate the development of differentiating solutions and technologies to facilitate circularity and industrial sustainability in response to the urgency of industry transformation towards sustainability and circular economy.
Supported by the new paradigms of digitalization, these projects aim at the development of new sustainable products (production systems and components); at the integration and advanced management of sustainable production systems that foster zero defects, i.e., zero environmental impacts, and the implementation of circular and sustainable approaches in manufacturing.
We expect that these projects will result in more production with less resources, in addition to new and more sustainable products with an increased life cycle, meaning less environmental impact.
E.E: How do you promote this clean culture in your company?
P.T: Through the dissemination of the implemented actions, through the continuous transmission of the company’s values and through the implementation of good practices in consumption reduction, recycling, reuse, waste sorting, etc..
We strictly follow the Normative references of the certifications in Environmental Management and Quality, while investing in training and awareness in the areas of Safety and Health at Work, Environment and Quality.
Currently, we are organizing an R&D event under the motto “Sustainable Engineering” to stimulate the discussion and debate on sustainable industry innovation policies among our stakeholders.
E.E: How do you see sustainability in the future?
P.T: Being transversal to all the companies in our ecosystem, sustainability will undoubtedly become the guiding and mandatory line in decision making and definition of future strategic plans.
For example, we have been driven by our major customers in the automotive sector (OEM and Tier1), which have set strict goals for their distribution chains. We then set our own targets, in order to be aligned with the industry requirements, and will expect the same from our own chain in a near future.
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