Noticias Relacionada

From mining company to sustainability leader - a customer portrait

Everyone uses their products, but not everyone knows about them: DSM is behind products we use every day – in a sustainable way.

Whether it’s performance textiles for functional clothes, plastic parts for smartphones, healthy nutritional ingredients such as vitamin supplements, minerals or omega-3 – the products of the nutrition, health and sustainable living company Royal DSM are probably part of everyone’s life to some extent. And yet, you probably don’t know about it because the global company, with its global head office in the city of Heerlen in the Southeast of the Netherlands, makes products for business customers. However broad its product portfolio might be, all DSM products have one thing in common: They are all produced in a sustainable manner. “We are a role model and leader within the industry,” says Kim van Neer, Senior Category Manager at DSM. “This applies not only to our products, but also to the transport chain – and, even bigger, to society at large.”

The 34-year-old has been working at the science-based company for eight years. She came from a Marketing and Sales background and moved to procurement at DSM. As a global category manager, she is now responsible for procuring transport for every product that travels by airplane or ship. It is her job to optimise processes and to source transportation needs of business – so whenever a product moves between continents, she makes sure the transport chain is as good as it can be. To do so, she meets with service providers all over the world, including employees from Hapag-Lloyd working at the local level. “For example, when we wanted to establish our transport chain for healthy fish oil from Peru to all over the world, the local expertise and support Hapag-Lloyd could provide us was really helpful,” van Neer says. The plant that produces fish oil is located near Paita, Peru’s fifth-largest port in the country’s northwest corner. However, DSM’s main challenge there was to find transit times that were workable. Another challenge was to have enough equipment on-site and to reposition empty equipment. “Thanks to Hapag-Lloyd’s support, we managed to optimise our routings and create a reliable and efficient supply chain,” she continues. “None of this would have been possible without cooperation and partnerships. You have to do it together!”

Our customer Kim van Neer is Senior Category Manager at DSM

Royal DSM was formed by the Dutch state in 1902 to mine coal reserves in southern Limburg, the southernmost province of the Netherlands. Over the years, the company has been active in the chemical sector, which became its main focus after the government decided in the 1960s to close all state-owned coal mines. DSM has undergone a tremendous degree of transformation, and it is now mainly active in the fields of health, nutrition and sustainable living. DSM and its associated companies deliver annual net sales of about 10 billion euros with approximately 23,000 employees. But it still retains the same name as a reminder of its origins. “We are not at all the same as we were 100 or even 10 years ago,” van Neer says with a smile. And the new building shows it: when you enter the DSM Innovation Center on the Brightlands campus in Geleen, all you see is glass. It is open space, transparent, vibrant and encouraging of collaboration. “This is really what DSM stands for today,” she adds.

DSM Innovation Center on the Brightlands campus in Geleen

One of DSM’s product portfolios consists of food ingredients. These products are used in everything from baking, dairy, meat and savory food products to dietary supplements, beverages, confectionery and infant nutrition. “The middle classes are growing, especially in China, and along with that comes a lifestyle that also includes healthy living and food choices,” van Neer says. “At the same time, the population is aging, which also creates new health issues. This makes us ask ourselves how we can improve the lives of those people.” The outcome is an increasingly tailor-made product portfolio – matching the demands of specific markets, countries and regions, but also age groups. “As a result, our business is becoming much more diverse, which is also a challenge when it comes to logistics,” she continues. However, DSM doesn’t only develop products to follow global trends, as its overarching goal includes using its products to fight malnutrition and hunger. In pursuit of this goal, the company conducts a lot of research and shares its expertise and scientific knowledge in healthy nutritions with others – including the World Food Programme – so that it can be used to improve the lives of all. “This actually means living our purpose: creating brighter lives for all,” van Neer says.

DSM strives at using its expertise in nutritional products to make nutrition affordable

Despite running a big-league business, sustainability is a key business driver for DSM – and a personal matter for van Neer. She was one of the founders of BICEPS (Boosting Initiatives for Collaborative Emission-reduction with the Power of Shipping). This network of a large number of multina­tionals collaborates in pursuit of their common ambition to accelerate sustainability in shipping. What started as a simple Excel sheet is now an entirely web-based rating system that provides insight into the sustainability-related performance of shipping lines around the globe. “Incorporating sustainability into your procurement processes starts with visibility and making conscious choices, and the BICEPS rating system supports these choices,” van Neer says.

The BICEPS rating system is not a goal in itself. Instead, it serves as a starting point for fostering dialogue among shippers, carriers and solution providers about improving the sustainability of container shipments. As part of this, the BICEPS network organises innovation workshops multiple times a year to share knowledge and expertise so as to challenge the current system and identify sustainable solutions. Hapag-Lloyd’s Sustainability team also attends these meetings. “Our goal is to create momentum for improvements and to boost collaboration on sustainability initiatives in the shipping sector using this joint approach,” van Neer says. Of course, other factors – such as transit times, performance and cost – are still part of the decision-making process. “But by utilising the BICEPS rating system in our allocation, sustainability also gets the platform it deserves.”

The wife of Feike Sijbesma, CEO of DSM was naming patron of the 15,000 TEU vessel “Al Jmeliyah” in September in Rotterdam (right)

Nevertheless, van Neer notes, sustainability isn’t just about shipping; it’s also about production. “As a company, we are enabling the transition to a biobased economy based on preserving natural resources and stimulating greater circularity,” she says, citing the example of the DSM product Niaga, a 100 per cent recyclable carpet produced with 90 per cent less energy. “We want to run ahead of rather than behind trends,” she continues. “We are purpose-led and performance-driven. If we can provide a more sustainable solution through either new technologies or new processing techniques, we’ve accomplished our goal.”
Looking ahead, van Neer says that digitalisation is going to be the main game changer, and that it will lead to much more transparency along the entire transport chain. “But I can also picture there being physical changes, such as flexible container sizes or drones for smaller shipments,” she says. “As with any change, they now might seem far off. But I’m convinced that when we look back ten years from now, we’ll be astonished by the changes our industry has gone through. And I’m also convinced that DSM is ready for that.

Founded in 1902
45,000 TEU shipped globally each year: approximately one in five containers shipped with Hapag-Lloyd 6 per cent reefer and growing

Helping clean the oceans
Last year, DSM teamed up with The Ocean Cleanup, whose ambitious mission is to develop advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit organisation with nearly 65 engineers and researchers designing a fleet of extremely long, V-shaped floating barrier systems that act like artificial coastlines. By placing these perpendicular to the prevailing current, plastic debris concentrates against the nets hanging from barriers so that it can more easily be collected and removed. DSM supported them by supplying a propriety fiber called Dyneema to be used in the floating barrier system. Dyneema is 15 times stronger than steel and extremely suitable for tough marine environments.

Noticias Relacionada

Back to Top