Dr. Dirk Holbach, Chief Supply Chain Officer Laundry & Home Care, Henkel
In recent years, sustainability has grown to become more and more important throughout the manufacturing industry. Henkel, a global consumer goods company, aims to pioneer new solutions for sustainable development in all business activities.
“Companies that manufacture consumer products have the responsibility to promote not only sustainable and smart packaging, but also sustainable production processes. The transformation towards a circular economy and our goal to become climate-positive by 2040 can only be achieved if we join forces along the entire value chain. And at Henkel, we take action and develop innovative solutions to stop plastic waste and enhance sustainability in manufacturing”Dr. Dirk Holbach, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Henkel Laundry & Home Care
One key lever for this purpose is digital transformation within production. Henkel operates worldwide with leading brands and technologies in its three business units: Adhesive Technologies, Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care. Within the company, Henkel’s target starts with a strong focus on production sites, where the company continually improves its energy efficiency.
“At Laundry & Home Care, we achieved a 65% reduction of CO2 over the past 15 years. This represents 3.5 million tons of CO2,” says Dr. Dirk Holbach, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Henkel Laundry & Home Care. To continuously make production processes more sustainable, the company is using digital tools, Industry 4.0 applications and advanced technologies in manufacturing. One example is the implementation of a cloud-based digital platform, Digital Backbone.
But leveraging digital brings chances and challenges. It requires reliable measurement and transparency, standardized information and a digital mindset among teams. Only then can consistent improvement be achieved. Addressing these requirements, Digital Backbone was introduced at Henkel Laundry & Home Care eight years ago. This digital ecosystem measures energy consumption in real time for more than 30 Laundry & Home Care production sites worldwide, and has evolved into one of the most important tools for holistic supply chain steering.
“We have been driving digital transformation consistently for many years. In 2013, we developed Digital Backbone to digitalize our supply chain,” says Holbach. “Today, more than 4,000 sensors are distributed everywhere on the globe. These sensors feed a billion data points every day into our system on a real-time basis.” With the platform initially focusing on energy consumption, it has now developed into much more, optimizing energy consumption and analyzing water and waste parameters while driving safety, efficiency and quality performance in Henkel’s production facilities.
“Digital and sustainability can go hand in hand and deliver concrete business with environmental benefits,” says Holbach. While the newest technological developments allow for these opportunities, it is crucial to involve people to successfully drive digital transformation. New technologies require new skill sets—which is why Henkel carries out digital upskilling programs across the entire company and those targeted in the supply chain. To constantly improve the quality of the application and drive engagement, Henkel Laundry & Home Care focuses on future users when implementing new technologies.
Find out more about Henkel here.