Ragne Bogaerts is the quality and business process improvement (BPI) manager for our Protective & Marine Coatings (PMC) business at the Deurne plant in Belgium, a role that perfectly aligns with her abilities. It gives Ragne insight into how our organization works and the option to instantly detect room for improvement when it comes to sustainable operations. Ragne has already succeeded in reducing the plant's energy consumption. But what were all the necessary steps she had to take? Let's turn to Ragne for the explanation.
The Sweetness of Multitasking
Before joining our company at the Deurne site, Ragne Bogaerts had been professionally tasting chocolate as a quality manager, a dream job that didn't allow her to fully utilize her engineering degree, as she soon realized. After working as a project engineer in the pharmaceutical sector and as a process engineer in the chemical sector, she received a job offer that led her to become a part of our family.
"It appeared to be the perfect fit for me, as it allowed me to apply what I had learned in my previous roles and explore what I wanted to develop."
Ragne joined us in 2021, taking on the complex role of quality and BPI manager for our PMC business in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. Her responsibilities involve a wide range of tasks, and Ragne can see the value in each of them.
"It's so varied! True, sometimes I feel like a jack of all trades, master of none. But what I really appreciate is that all my activities allow me to understand how our organization operates and view things from a broader perspective, seeing how processes influence each other."
Among her primary responsibilities is overseeing the ISO 9001 certified quality management system for PMC EMEA, as well as implementing the certification for new sites in Egypt and South Africa.
Ragne is also the driving force behind several process improvement projects, many of which are related to sustainability.
The Long-Term Plans and Energy4Climate
Implementing sustainable innovations while ensuring safety measures is challenging, but Ragne remains undaunted, recognizing the deeper meaning and positive impact of her mission.
Sustainability projects typically come with a longer payback period. Nevertheless, Ragne has developed a long-term plan, and through collaboration with various departments, successfully implemented several innovations.
One of these initiatives is the Energy4Climate project, which aims to enhance energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions at the Deurne site.
Via an external energy scan, we searched for measures that would have a payback time shorter than two years. As a result, we automated some extra equipment to shut off when not in use, and also insulated piping and valves for steam and hot water pipes.
Ragne plays a pivotal role in introducing energy management requirements for the Deurne site, along with planning the installation of photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity. “At present, we're determining the project scope based on load bearing capacity of the available roof space!”
LEDing Up the Collaboration
Another project, the installation of LED lighting, tested Ragne's collaboration skills.
They require a lot of knowledge about electrical installations, which is not my forte. So, I leaned on the maintenance department for their expertise.
This project involved more than just changing light fixtures; the team also implemented smart lighting, which "adapts to the environment. We now have motion sensors that activate the lights when there are people present and adaptive lighting which automatically changes based on brightness measured."
Ragne further points out that LED lighting not only reduces energy consumption but also provides benefits to the employees and the maintenance department, as it requires significantly less maintenance.
The energy audits, initiated by Ragne, are conducted by external companies and aim to assess current processes and equipment usage to identify any possible room for improvement.
Little Steps, Impactful Changes
Collaborating with the operations and environmental, health and safety (EHS) departments, Ragne regularly hosts sustainability roadmap meetings where they discuss current projects, opportunities for improvement, and ideas for the future. And, as we've learned from her, there's a lot to look forward to!
"We are currently testing a new energy monitoring system. This will allow us to see the impact of our actions more effectively. We are also exploring improvements in processes such as mixing times. I believe that if we can reduce the batch times even by a few minutes, it will not make a difference in the quality of the end product. However, even the slightest reduction impacts long-term energy consumption!"