Sustainability goals Machine tool sector: Italian association publishes first sustainability report
The Italian association for the machine tool industry, Ucimu — Sistemi per Produrre, is the firs in Italy and Europe to publish a sustainability Report for capital goods this sector. Almost half of the member companies stated that they are planning to issue a Sustainability Report in the next three years. The short-middle term goals for the enterprises of the sector are an improve formalisation of policies and processes and the carrying-out of targeted communication initiatives.
During a meeting attended by enterprises, the credit world, institutions and press on 21 February 2023, the first Sustainability Report dedicated to the machine tool sector was presented in Italy. It was carried out by Ucimu, the Italian machine tools, robots and automation systems manufacturers' association, in cooperation with Altis, Graduate School Business & Society of the Catholic University of Sacred Heart.
“Sustainability is an extremely profitable field for companies, because it does not only allow to improve the relations with one’s own stakeholders, but it also offers them an opportunity of reinventing and realigning themselves with the European regulatory framework, which emphasizes the importance of a wider use of good ESG practises. With regard to this Report, we can affirm that a good number of ESG practises have already been introduced. In the field of capital goods, Ucimu — Sistemi per Produrre is the first association, in Italy and in Europe, to carry out a Sustainability Report of the sector. This outcome undoubtedly makes us very proud. The next step will be to formalise and extend it to a larger number of enterprises. For this purpose, Ucimu will continue its activity of education & training and support for its associate member companies started over the last few years”, pointed out Barbara Colombo, president of Ucimu, who opened the work sessions together with Vito Moramarco, Director of Altis Catholic University.
Stella Gubelli, Managing Director of Altis Advisory, a Spin-off and Benefit Corporation of the Catholic University of Sacred Heart, described the contents and the main aspects emerged from the study: “The project developed with Ucimu is intended to encourage the start of improvement paths in the associate member companies, based on an objective ESG evaluation and aimed at sustainability areas that are important for the sector. We think that this is the most effective way to support the enterprises in facing challenges and seizing opportunities”.
Supporting injection moulders in achieving their sustainability goals
The round table, moderated by Mauro Bellini, Managing Director of ESG360.it, included the experiences of Barbara Colombo, Managing Director of Ficep, Massimo Carboniero, Managing Director and Co-owner of Omera, and Andrea Portosa, Purchasing Manager of Rosa Ermando, as representatives of three enterprises of the sector that carried out their first sustainability report; Natale Schettini, Head of Credit Governance, Banco BPM, Carolina Lonetti, Chief Export Finance & Internationalization Officer of Simest, Marco Cantalamessa, Chief Marketing & CEO Staff Officer of Simest, who stressed the growing importance of ESG criteria in the evaluation of applications for financing a company’s development and growth activities; Maurizio Bellosta, Managing Director of Rubinetterie Bellosta and Vice-president of AVR, who explained how crucial is the approach to sustainability in a supplying company’s activity when considering to choose a supplier. Patrizia Ghiringhelli, Vice-president of Ucimu and Coordinator of the Ucimu Mark Committee.
The Sustainability Report refers to the year 2021 and was drawn up based on the replies to a questionnaire, which was sent to the associate member companies authorised to use the Ucimu Mark . Among the 66 enterprises authorised to use the Ucimu Mark, 53 have replied. The evaluation questionnaire prepared by Ucimu in cooperation with Altis was created according to a materiality analysis, i.e. by focusing the attention on the sustainability areas that are more affected by the activity of the sector enterprises. In other words, the ESG areas subject to evaluation have been chosen considering 11 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) of the UN Agenda 2030, because they were more related with the business of machine tool enterprises.
The results included in the Report are presented here below according to the three big areas, in which a company’s business is carried out in relation to the sustainability criteria (environmental, economic and social sustainability).
For the sector, the issue of circular economy (SDG 12 — Sustainable Consumption and Production) is an undisputed area of excellence, to such an extent that 62 percent of the interviewed enterprises have implemented good practises. Almost all the enterprises, 98 percent, carry out a differentiated waste collection; 76 percent have defined their own goals with regard to reduction of scraps and produced waste, whereas 50 percent use raw materials derived from recycling.
From the point of view of carbon dioxide emissions (SDG 13 — Climate Action), on the other hand, the enterprises of the sector must still configure their activity. Indeed, only 33 percent of the interviewed companies have defined goals related to the reduction of CO2 and, even less, eleven percent of them, have formalised these goals in an official document.
Among the activities included in the package of good practises with regard to SDG 13, only nine percent of the interviewed companies have considered the development of compensation actions, whose implementation costs would really be very reduced, taking into account the low environmental impact that the enterprises of this sector have by nature.
In a sector with high technological content and specialisation, where innovation is crucial for the competiveness of product offering, indeed, human resources and thus, high-quality education and training of co-workers (SDG 4 — Quality Education) are among the most important intangible assets. A percentage of 92 percent of the companies stated that they have set up or adopted a management system to meet the educational and training needs of their employees, whereas 87 percent have defined education & training goals for their co-workers. More than the half of these goals (54 percent) have been formalised. In addition, 63 percent of the companies stated that they offer education & training on cross-cutting competences, as well as on technical subjects and 82 percent stated that they have adopted procedures for the performance evaluation of their staff.
The enterprises also showed a strong commitment to the sustainable development of territory and community (SDG 11 — Sustainable Cities and Communities): a percentage of 68 percent of the enterprises proved to be conscious of their role as driving force of the growth, for example by providing economic contributions to support local bodies and young talents.
Among the improvement areas, considering that of diversity and equal opportunities (SDG 5 — Gender Equality), it is necessary to work on the implementation of policies aimed at a higher inclusivity, both of female presences and young people, in a traditionally male sector. To date, the workforce is mainly male (86 percent). Young people represent a really small part compared with the total employees: 77 percent of the people who operate in the companies of the sector is aged over 30 years. Only 22 percent of the enterprises have a policy or a committee for the enhancement of diversity and the promotion of equal opportunities.
That said, among the good practises implemented by the companies with regard to equal opportunities and diversity, there is the implementation of a more inclusive policy, as well as the creation of company’s child day-care centres and actions to support maternity.
Finally, it is necessary for the enterprises to invest more in the governance of sustainability (SDG 16 — Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and in the formalisation of their own initiatives: indeed, only 30 percent of them inform about ESG issues through a dedicated section in their websites and only four percent have formalised this procedure by drawing up a reporting document, such as a Sustainability Report.
In the field of innovation (SDG 9 — Infrastructure and Industrialization), from digital transition to cybersecurity, enterprises are strongly involved in the development of innovative and effective technologies, capable of reducing the waste of resources, encouraging more sustainable consumption models and ensuring higher productivity for customer companies. Indeed, the results of the survey show that 91 percent of the enterprises have defined a strategy or future goals in terms of digitalisation, automation and industry 4.0.
Among the most common good practises, there is that concerning the development of digitalisation and communication projects with installed products, in order to enable a continuous monitoring, in agreement with customers, and predict maintenance needs. Actually, all this implies a reduction in production time and machine downtime, as well as an appropriate use of resources. These activities contribute to improving the competitiveness of an enterprise.
With regard to Research & Development, 72 percent of the companies have defined a strategy or future goals aimed at a reduction in the environmental impact of products. Almost all the interviewed companies stated that they use labelling or education and training to inform their customers about the appropriate use of machines (91 percent) and about their correct disposal at the end of their lifecycle (72 percent).
Overall, the Sustainability Report 2021 shows a general lack of formalisation of processes: although 64 percent of the companies have defined strategies and goals, only 24 percent have formalised them. The percentage concerning the management and monitoring of sustainable paths, even if higher (39 percent in a formalised way), is still below 50 percent. On the other hand, the results of the Report highlight the need of the sector’s enterprises to strengthen their attitude to “disseminate sustainability” by implementing company’s practises ad hoc.