Breemes 'Best overall supplier' of Nitto Belgium
Nitto Belgium and Breemes have a lasting bond. Last year, that was crowned with Breemes receiving the 'Best overall supplier' award. Sustainability is an important theme in their relationship these days. As a partner, Breemes thinks along with Nitto Belgium, about solutions to global component scarcity and also about greening Nitto's products and production.
Nitto Belgium in Genk produces industrial adhesive tapes, surface protection films and sealing products for numerous applications and in all kinds of designs, often custom-made, processed or packaged for the customer. These products include automotive, consumer electronics, furniture and glass industries.
Customer-oriented and green
As part of the Japanese multinational Nitto Denko, Nitto Belgium (650 employees) is the knowledge center within Europe for industrial adhesive tapes, with extensive R&D and quality departments and high-quality production. The company is characterized by the typical Japanese improvement culture, but is also truly Belgian. "We always start from the customer's demand," says Ludo Persoon, purchasing manager of technical goods and services. "Sometimes we can solve that demand with an existing product, but often adjustments are needed in adhesive strength or a specific material, to name a few."
"We always start from the customer's demand."
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An important part of that customer-centric approach is sustainability. "Our ambition is to be completely CO2 neutral by 2045. We therefore set up an ambitious roadmap back in 2018, which we are systematically implementing with success. For example, we want to reduce our CO2 emissions by 30% by the end of 2022 and to as much as 55% by 2030. We want to reduce our waste by 12.5% by the end of 2022 and by 30% by 2030. Not insignificantly, we are also working toward a VOC reduction of as much as 50% by 2022. To achieve all this, our focus is both on optimizing our internal (production) processes and on creating more sustainable products. For example, our adhesive tapes are still made with petroleum-based raw materials. We are now in the process of switching to an emulsion-based adhesive that will significantly reduce our footprint, without sacrificing quality or performance for the customer. The electricity we consume in our production processes is 100% renewable, partly coming from our solar panels, partly from the cogeneration we use to generate our own electricity and partly from green electricity we purchase." Any investment must be linked to sustainability, adds project leader engineering Davy Scroyen. "Our CEO's ambition is to make Nitto Belgium a model company within all of Nitto for carbon-neutral operations."
A key partner in this sustainability ambition is Breemes. They have a long history with each other, says Kris Leirs, who has been with Nitto for 27 years, the last 15 of which as breakdown maintenance team leader. "All that time we have purchased the bulk of the electrical items from Breemes and their predecessors. We will continue to do so, because we find them a pleasant partner in many areas. They think along with us about solutions and can deliver them quickly. If an old sensor breaks down during a breakdown, they very actively help look for a contemporary alternative." Persoon: "They not only provide us with standard spare parts, but also work closely with engineering on specials for new construction and upgrades and with the maintenance department for re-engineering products that we need to replace acutely. In addition, they provide training." Leirs: "For example, our new technicians go to the basic course TIA Portal (Siemens' PLC programming environment, ed.). Now, in consultation with Breemes, a course on communication between PLCs and drives has been set up; we send people to that as well." Persoon: "So they cover the complete range our organization needs."
"We are a team and fight together for the same goal."
Conversely, Nitto Belgium is also a "very pleasant partner," responds Breemes director Kurt Colin. "We have a very good cooperation and understanding. That Nitto named us 'Best overall supplier' last year, we are very proud of that. My colleagues, like Robert, look along with Nitto's technical people, detect problems, look for solutions and quickly deliver the necessary spare parts." Senior account manager Robert Koloszewski adds: "I visit the various departments at Nitto every two weeks and try to relieve people there as much as possible. In recent years, the cooperation has been intensifying, because the pressure in the market is increasing everywhere. It's nice that they keep faith in us and say, 'That problem, will you solve it for us?'" Persoon: "The nomination and eventual win of 'Best overall supplier' is the result of our supplier evaluation system that we use at Nitto. In this evaluation system we look not only at traditional elements such as price/quality and delivery reliability, but certainly also at elements such as sustainability and thinking along strategic themes." Colin: "We see ourselves not as a supplier but really as a partner, an extension of Nitto's technical service and purchasing department. We are a team and fight together for the same goal."
That joint "battle" proceeds in a convivial atmosphere, Persoon emphasizes. "That is only possible if there is real cooperation. In the eight years I have worked at Nitto, I have never experienced an insurmountable problem, because there is simply a solution for every problem as well. Between Breemes and Nitto, we always find a joint solution and we as Nitto appreciate that very much." Hence the award given to Breemes on behalf of Nitto Belgium. Scroyen: "Just like here at Nitto, we see people at Breemes who have been employed there for a long time, like Robert. It's good that we can always fall back on the same people. Robert automatically passes on problems and we always get an immediate response."
"It's good that we can always fall back on the same people."
Of course, because of global component and material shortages, Breemes also faces challenges at Nitto to meet agreed delivery times. Colin: "We indicated to them at an early stage that there were problems ahead. That way they could take action and in the meantime we started looking for alternatives. It gets harder and harder, but we are not giving up on finding solutions."
Continuation of partnership
Also for sustainability, Breemes, as mentioned, continues to think along to help Nitto meet its goals. "We do not deliver to Nitto every day, but are now looking at whether we can go to two instead of three times a week; that saves on transport and is better for the environment. If necessary, we then deliver something urgent in between in case of downtime or machine breakdowns." Person appreciates, "Customer demands are getting higher and higher. We have to deliver more sustainable products and produce them in a greener way. If Breemes starts supplying us less frequently, those are already decent steps to reduce CO2 emissions." And there are more opportunities, Colin continues. "Our outer packaging can be even greener; we are working on that now. Furthermore, an EDI link (for electronic data interchange, ed.) is under consideration, because every paper order form is one too many. We are making the world greener with small interventions, including electrification of our vehicle fleet." Thus, sustainability and perpetuation of the partnership are high on the joint agenda. It brings Persoon to a concluding message to companies that do not yet, or only to a limited extent, work with Breemes. "I assume that Nitto's award to Breemes gives everyone an indication of what cooperation is possible with Breemes."
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