We believe in lasting relationships with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, and are committed to delivering long-term value to all of them. We are convinced that the trust, integrity and irrepressibility that bring our employees worldwide together as one team also create the fundamentals of successful partnerships, wherever we do business.
We deal openly and honestly with our business partners. We expect our business partners to adhere to business principles consistent with internationally accepted ethical standards.
As from the outbreak of Covid-19, we learned valuable lessons from our regional management and plant teams in China. We immediately applied those learnings in the other parts of the world when the Covid-19 became a pandemic.
We anticipated the consequences on supply chains early and coordinated our sourcing and supply needs on a global scale. Thanks to our global network, we succeeded in preventing supply interruptions, both upstream and downstream, and delivered as agreed with our customers.
The IdealAlambrec-Bekaert team launched a ‘Biosafety Program’ in response to customers in the construction sector struggling with the implementation of Covid-19 protection measures on the building sites. Our SH&E expert visited the customers’ construction sites, conducted interviews and verified the builders’ safety protection measures and procedures. After the audit, a detailed report and a recommended action plan was provided and discussed. Our company’s medical team also offered training and medical support at the restart of customer operations after a lockdown.
The program has strengthened the relationship with our customers and demonstrated that we care about the success of our customers’ business.
Quality is essential for good customer relations. Our customers have a choice, and we strive to be their best choice. We support our customers by adding value to the products and solutions we provide.
It is absolutely key to meet our customers’ quality expectations, both in terms of product specifications and service levels.
We therefore engage our employees in understanding those expectations well, so they can actively contribute in creating customer value.
Virtual communication sessions became the norm in all of our customer contacts in 2020. The continuously changing business dynamics all over the world required constant alignment and interaction. While being isolated and banned from personal, face-to-face contacts through live meetings, visits, trade fairs or conferences, the online meetings brought us closer together than before. They also brought together more teams and individuals than the regular sales-purchasing relationships.
We explored and extended the use of digital channels, integrated a live chat on our website, and shared information and expertise in virtual engagement campaigns.
Plant teams connected with customers and colleagues working from home via livestream to view pre-qualification tests. We organized customer training sessions online, while conventions and trade shows went digital with avatar networking and virtual booths. We also activated My Bekaert and My Rope, user-friendly customer portals on our website. These digital platforms have built interaction and trust in our commercial relationships.
Bekaert has received a B- score in CDP’s Supplier Engagement Rating (SER), an improvement of 2 steps compared with previous ratings. Bekaert’s rating for disclosing and engaging with customers has significantly improved, bringing us in a leading 'A' score position.
In 2020, 84% of Bekaert’s global portfolio of Research & Innovation efforts targeted distinct sustainable benefits. These projects include innovations that:
It is our aim to increase the share of R&D efforts with a direct sustainability link to 90% by 2025. Therefore, we have added a specific classification in our R&D project management tool to enhance measurement and prioritization.
Bekaert products help to make the air we breathe virus-free.
Our metal fiber media is used for reusable High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in face masks and ventilation systems, while our thin steel wires are used to reinforce nose-covering clips in medical face masks.
We brought the production flow of these thin steel wires to the highest level of priority in 2020 and helped avoid disruptions in the market.
The Bekaert TAWI® patent was awarded the 21st China Patent – Excellence Award. As the only national level award sponsored by the China IP Administration and World IP Organization, the China Patent Award is very prestigious.
TAWI® is a new generation coating for tire cord filaments. The coating provides environmentally-friendly benefits as it excludes the need for tire makers to add cobalt to the rubber plie compounds.
The Bridgestone plant in Pune (India), sent a cross-functional team of production, maintenance, safety, and quality experts to our production plant in the same region, to discuss best practices in all of these expertise domains. The team liked Bekaert’s concept of customer stewards and were impressed by our BeCare safety program. Finally, they greatly appreciated the Mini Company concept that is implemented in our plant to bring customer centricity to the shopfloor.
Bekaert’s business relationship with Bridgestone started in 1970 and took many forms. Throughout this half century of collaboration, the relationship has always been characterized by learning and developing, growing and innovating, and stretching the limits of ambition and improvement, true to the Japanese motto ‘moto moto’ (always more and always better). The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t allow us to celebrate this milestone in our long history together, but definitely did not put a halt on our close relationship.
In close collaboration with the customer, Bekaert developed Bezinox® non-magnetic cable armoring wire for an offshore wind farm project. This new innovative product brings lots of value for the cable producers, allowing them to design cables with lower cross section, and by eliminating power losses in bringing the power ashore.
Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group (BBRG) joined the consortium for the European MooringSense project funded by the Horizon 2020 initiative, which aims to reduce the costs associated with floating offshore wind energy production by up to 15% while increasing efficiency. As part of the research consortium, BBRG helped define the digital twin that will optimize the operation and maintenance of the floating wind turbines’ anchoring and mooring systems, along with the specifications and validation procedures of the components that make up the solution proposed by MooringSense. This digital twin is a replica of the mooring system, enabling real time virtual monitoring, predictive modelling, and development simulations.
The MooringSense project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement No. 85170.
As floating wind power will become increasingly important, Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group has decided to expand its presence in station keeping by partnering with IDEOL, an internationally recognized leader and pioneer in floating offshore wind. Both companies signed a strategic partnership aimed at developing a new industry-transforming synthetic mooring solution to meet the fast accelerating floating offshore wind market’s cost reduction, capacity and lead-time expectations.
In co-developing new products with customers, Bekaert pays particular attention to the confidentiality and secrecy of customer and research data. As a market and technology leader in various markets, we are aware of the compliance rules and the necessity to have the systems and behavior in place to ensure intellectual property rights and data privacy. Bekaert has received no formal complaints from customers regarding such potential infringements.
Bekaert has implemented all necessary measures, policies, procedures and processes in order to be and remain GDPR compliant. The confidentiality principles on data privacy of this EU regulation are obviously also respected toward our customers worldwide.
We work closely with customers and suppliers by engaging in co-development projects, by conducting feedback initiatives and satisfaction surveys, and by performing industry analyses together. Customer surveys are executed annually or bi-annually in all sectors and regions and are based on either standard methodologies or customized to address specific improvement themes.
(GRI 102-43 GRI 102-44)
In November 2020, we launched the ‘Hello Customer weeks’ where we highlighted and celebrated customer excellence at the heart of everything we do at Bekaert. Bringing value-creating solutions based on deep customer insight is essential to face tomorrow's challenges and is what drives our employees across the company, in whatever location or function they are active.
Through online information sessions and customer meet & greets in all kinds of forms – mostly virtually and by exception physically if and where safety measures allowed – employees around the globe interacted with customers and brainstormed about how we can serve them even better.
Bekaert values the feedback of customers to know how to serve them better. To gain insights into their satisfaction level, both the Ropes and the A-Cords teams of Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group (BBRG) invited their customers to participate in a customer survey, conducted by an external research company. The survey is based on the Customer Performance Index, an approved methodology to capture customer feedback in a structured way.
The outcome was positive. A-Cords received an AA label, which means that they belong to the 10% best-performing companies in their benchmark group, which consists of 1000 B2B companies. The customers confirmed that BBRG A-Cords is a trustworthy supplier to work with. The Ropes team received an A label, which puts them in the top 25% of best-performing companies in the benchmark group. This good ranking is mainly driven by the added value they offer to their customers. Both the A-Cords and the Ropes teams will continue leveraging their strengths and work on further service extensions to help customers realize their business objectives.
Apart from customer-specific R&D, Bekaert establishes international partnerships with universities and research institutes to foster open innovation on various research themes. We also consider investments in early-stage companies and venture capital funds that may create new attractive business models adjacent to Bekaert’s current field-of-play. In 2020, we continued and further extended our international cooperation programs with academic institutions, technology clusters and research partners.
Our academic partnerships particularly focus on physical metallurgy, metallic coatings, modeling, and on special laboratory analysis techniques that are not available in-house.