An Inside Look at Environment Management Success at Bosch

April 2, 2009
All 292 of its manufacturing sites have an environmental management system.

Bosch Group, a global Fortune 500 company that develops and manufactures a variety of products from automobile engines to wind turbines, recently introduced an environmental management system at each of its 292 manufacturing sites around the world.

The system is based on the ISO 14001 international standard for environmental management, and 213 of Bosch's manufacturing sites have already been certified by an independent organization.

To discover how the company accomplished this and other environmental initiatives I asked John Mirsky, Vice-President, Technical & Engineering Services a few questions about the road to success.

Q: How was the company able to certify all its sites? What type of structure was put in place to reach compliance?

A: In October of 1998 Robert Bosch LLC initiated a program to implement Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) at its North American facilities as part of a global Bosch Group initiative. The implementation program included a top management announcement, formation of a North American Steering Committee, development of a generic EMS Implementation "Toolkit", and multiple training sessions for facility implementation leaders and auditors. The first ISO 14001 certification was received in October 2000, and to date, over 30 Bosch facilities in North America have received their certifications.

Q: What specific measures are being taken to reach the 25% CO2 emission cut the company hopes to achieve by 2020? What types of measurement systems have been set up to track compliance?

A: The Bosch Group has taken several measures to achieve an overall 25% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 vs. a 2007 baseline, three fifths of that by 2012. In North America, many of our Environmental Management Systems have included energy reduction objectives, and energy reduction workshops have been conducted. In February of this year in Germany, the Bosch Group brought together members of the board of management, the executive management of divisions, corporate researchers and architectural experts, and engineering management from major Bosch plants to discuss the deployment of corporate targets, best practices and lessons learned and possibilities for achieving even greater sustainability and resource-efficient production within Bosch.

Furthermore, in 2008, Robert Bosch LLC joined the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), with a commitment to reduce 6% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the U.S. by 2010 from a 2000 baseline. Annual emissions are reported to, and audited by CCX. Progress toward achieving internal emission reduction goals are measured and reported quarterly in North America as part of a comprehensive HSE Sustainability Program, and are reported globally on an annual basis as part of the Bosch Group's Corporate Social Responsibility Program.

Q: In general were these programs set up at the executive level? And how did it filter down through the company?

A: Decisions regarding implementation of Environmental Management Systems and establishment of CO2 emission reduction goals were initially made at the Bosch Board of Management level. The programs were then communicated to all Bosch Group businesses and regional organizations for deployment.

Q: What advice would you give to companies who are just starting to incorporate these types of practices into their operations?

A: The most critical success factor is top and site management commitment. Environmental sustainability is included as one of Bosch's key global Values. Global implementation of Environmental Management Systems and achievement of challenging CO2 emission reduction goals would not be possible without strong management support. The second most important success factor is cross-functional involvement in incorporating these practices. Environmental managers need the active support of manufacturing, engineering and facilities organizations to be successful. Other contributing success factors include sharing of best practices and use of performance metrics ("what gets measured gets managed and done").

Finally, our management believes a paradigm shift is also necessary. Just as companies who lead the quality revolution saw that good quality did not cost but rather saved money, we understand that sustainable business practices also save money and are in the best financial interests of the company as well as the welfare of our associates and the communities we operate in.

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