Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Evonik Industries shares thoughts on sustainable salmon farming and industry modernization


It is not an exaggeration to say that Evonik Industries is committed to innovation, whether it is sustainable salmon farming, assisting in the development of COVID-19 vaccines at breakneck speed, or making tyres more fuel efficient. Evonik Industries' growth as a leading specialty chemicals company in Germany is dependent on innovation.

“We want to make life better day in and day out. We create products with characteristics that make the final consumer product really special,” said Thomas Meinel, senior vice president and head of Indirect Procurement at Evonik Industries.

“We’re farming salmons with a more sustainable feeding alternative for the climate and our environment. We supported the development and production of the first mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 by supplying the lipid nanoparticles that transport these gene-based vaccines to the right target site in the human body.”

I reached out to Dr. Marko Lange, product manager for SAP Chemicals, after hearing Meinel speak at the recent SAP International Conference for Chemicals in Madrid, Spain, for his thoughts on industry modernization.

In a world shaken by geopolitical conflicts and the resulting soaring prices and shortages, he said Evonik Industries stands out for its vision in business modernization, bringing in SAP S/4HANA and other SAP solutions.

“ERP is a hot topic again in the chemical industry because an ERP platform supports business resiliency across supply chains and operations in turbulent times like these,” said Dr. Lange.

“A next-generation ERP system provides insights, simulations, and decision support to help you understand disruptive impacts on your business and effectively respond. It is a real companion to operating your business, detailing granular, real-time information about what’s happening and the consequences.”

Procurement Is Strategic Business Partner
Every department at Evonik Industries has been transformed by digitalization. Meinel discussed how procurement was the next step in his company's digital journey at the conference.

“In a rapidly changing world with new business models, procurement is increasingly part of make or buy decisions to take advantage of greater opportunities,” said Meinel.

“Sourcing managers still need classic procurement skills because they are responsible for a company’s global strategy. But they also need to work from anywhere, interacting effectively with teams on collaborative platforms with internal colleagues and external suppliers. Cloud-based platforms provide many more scouting possibilities to discover future suppliers.”

Managing the procurement experience in a digitalized world necessitates new skills from people as they take on new responsibilities. Meinel described Evonik Industries' sourcing managers as strategic relationship managers who were constantly innovating, not just on pricing but also on working as part of a team to negotiate and strengthen supplier relationships.

“Digitalization will change what procurement does and how we do it,” said Meinel.

“We are buying more digital products along with products that have been digitally enhanced. For example, the pumps we purchase use significantly more digital data, which changes how people work, what skill sets they need, their capabilities, and managerial expectations.”

Evonik Industries, like many other organizations impacted by mergers and acquisitions, required real-time data visibility into contract management for daily activities, as well as accurate auditing.

“Everything we do has to be connected, which is the objective of going digital, to make process efficiencies end-to-end,” said Meinel. “With SAP Ariba solutions  and SAP Analytics Cloud, we can transform procurement, integrating data across systems as we create, sign, store, and manage contracts that often travel between departments and locations around the world.”

Meinel stated that digitalization is fundamentally altering how the company's procurement professionals operate on a daily basis. Robots expedite purchase order creation, and AI-powered algorithms generate forecasts, while humans use human judgement to handle exceptions and contribute to higher-value tasks. Instead of working in silos, procurement teams are analysing and deploying data to strengthen the global network of decision-making. Meinel stated that after implementing SAP Ariba solutions,

Evonik Industries gained significant employee productivity efficiencies and met cash flow savings targets. By automating tedious, repetitive tasks, procurement can focus on staying on top of rapidly changing market conditions, such as finding new suppliers in the event of unexpected disruptions.

“I’m convinced the future of procurement will be one of constant change,” said Meinel.

“Lifelong learning needs to be part of the culture beyond designated trainings. People don’t care what system they use. They want efficient processes and to be seamlessly connected. What matters is the user experience. Our digital business core is SAP S/4HANA, helping us become an agile, intelligent network able to manage constant change.”