Products (social affairs)

The SGL Group places very high demands on its products. This relates to both quality and also innovation. We believe that both of these aspects form the foundations for our current and, in particular, also the long-term success of our company.

Product quality

The SGL Group aims to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction by delivering constant good product and service quality as basis for long-term business relationships. We try to completely avoid customer complaints as far as possible. In order to achieve this, we strive to recognize and remove deviations from the defined product quality in an early stage with appropriate inspections as well as constantly improving our production processes.

Our claim to product quality is anchored in our corporate mission statement. The BU GMS quality philosophy offers additional orientation for the business unit GMS. Our definition of quality goes beyond pure product quality and also includes the quality of processes, information, communication and the organization. The focus is on customers and internal customer/supplier relationships. We foster an open and constructive handling of mistakes to counter in the future in the best possible way.

In order to measure our product quality performance, based on our different businesses and products we have set up individual product and site-specific KPIs. In addition, the global KPI Costs of Poor Quality (COPQ)/manufacturing costs is recorded in the BU GMS. This comprises the internal costs for scrap, rework and devaluation as well as complaint costs from all sites in relation to the manufacturing costs. The BU GMS aims to keep the entire COPQ as low as possible and thus to have a positive impact on customer satisfaction by consistently improving product quality.

There are business processes in place for all sites to ensure high product quality. Some of these processes are global, some have been locally defined. They form the basis for a well-functioning quality management system according to ISO 9001. This comprises consistent incoming inspection of raw materials and purchased parts, complete planning of production processes as well as the machines and equipment used including their maintenance, ongoing inspections during production up to final inspection of products, consistent monitoring and control of relevant process parameters.

If there are still complaints in spite of this, however, the SGL Group aims to ensure direct, open and constructive dialogue with customers. This means consistently working through customer complaints and internal quality deviations, and then implementing corrective and preventive actions. We have put monthly reporting in place based on the local and global quality indicators. The management of BU GMS monitors the COPQ introduced in this business unit on a monthly basis, and reports major differences even to the Board of Management.

In 2017 the SGL Group performed various need-oriented and site-based individual activities in order to improve the quality of its products. In addition, in GMS we initiated a global Quality Initiative in the second half of 2017, which will run through 2018 and 2019. This initiative strives, in particular, to stronger sensitize employees and thus to sustainably increase quality awareness. Over the medium to long term this also aims to substantially reduce the COPQ.

In 2017, we introduced in the business unit CFM a comprehensive Operations Management System to standardize processes and work out a common understanding in the production. This will be rolled out in the sites in 2018 and 2019. In the business unit GMS the introduction did also start in the second half of 2017. It will also be implemented in the GMS sites in 2018 and 2019.

Almost all of the sites in the SGL Group are certified according to the ISO 9001 Quality Management standard. In addition, in line with site-specific and overall requirements, there are also certifications according to ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), ISO 50001 (Energy Management), OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series), AS 9100 (Quality Management for aerospace industry) and IATF 16949 (Quality Management in the automotive industry).

The customer satisfaction analysis performed in 2016/17 confirms that we were able to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction in both our business units CFM and GMS in 2017. We were able to reduce the global indicator COPQ in the BU GMS to 2.20% based on manufacturing costs.

Sustainable product innovation

The majority of product developments in the SGL Group are in the fields of mobility, energy and digitization. For example, in the mobility sector our light-weight construction products based on carbon fibers allow energy consumption in the automotive and aviation industries to be cut still further, and thus contributes to cutting CO2 emissions. In the energy sector, our newly developed materials, such as graphites for Li-Ion batteries or components for fuel cells help to accelerate the transition from combustion engines to electromobility.

It only makes sense to evaluate our products with regard to their energy balance and consumption of resources across the entire value chain through to the full end product such as the car. As a result, instead of evaluating individual components or materials, the SGL Group participates in analyses which cover the entire value chain. This is performed together with partners in projects such as MAIEnviro: In this publicly subsidized project as part of the leading-edge cluster MAI Carbon, the entire value chain is analyzed - from production of the carbon fibers and their pre-product through to the automotive and its operation. In so doing, the advantages of using carbon fiber-based materials is worked out, and additional potential for improving the total energy balance is evaluated.

In addition to product innovations we also work constantly to improve the energy efficiency and environmental impact of our production processes. For example, last year we introduced battery graphite, which consumes a significantly lower amount of energy in production, to series production. We are developing studies and projects on new types of technology with reduced energy consumption when producing carbon fibers. Increasing material efficiency and thus minimizing the consumption of resources plays a key role in our future-proof 3D printing area. As part of the OEKOBAT project we are investigating the replacement of binder materials, which are required when graphite is used in lithium-ion batteries, with next-generation water-based and thus environmentally-friendly systems.

All of our innovation projects are phase-controlled. In so doing, our projects are checked for security and environmental requirements in each phase, if necessary activities are already put in place during the development process.


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