Creators of an essential archive
Braskem’s Highlight Awards gain strength as a tool for supporting the company’s growth
It all started the way good ideas often arise in the workplace: a practical obstacle led to strategic planning that resulted in short- and long-term gains for the client. “We needed to provide them with support, which meant reducing their costs and ensuring our competitiveness in the current scenario for the petrochemical industry,” says Braskem Energy Manager Gustavo Checcucci. “In other words, we were strengthening the entire supply chain,” he summarizes.
The characters in this story were members of Braskem, which produces polypropylene, and their client Borealis, a company that makes auto parts from the polymer after adding other chemical components. Based on observations of how Borealis’s power consumption was impacting its competitiveness in the market, Gustavo and his colleagues Octavio Pimenta Neto, Lucas Nishioka and Fabio Yanaguita came up with an alternative way to reduce the costs of inputs used to make plastic products – in this case, auto parts.
That is how the winner in the Adding Value for the Client category of the 2011 edition of the Braskem Highlight Awards came about. The proposal was to mediate the energy purchased on the Free Power Market and manage it so Borealis could save 17% of its annual consumption. “Negotiating cheaper energy required expertise that midsize companies such as Borealis do not possess. Not to mention that Braskem has been in this market a long time, which made negotiating the purchase easier,” explains Checcucci.
After the initial stage of the project, in which the partners studied several legal and economic variables, they began applying the idea in practice. The bond of trust between the two companies grew stronger, and the client is enjoying a savings of BRL 600,000 annually. Furthermore, Braskem’s entrepreneurial legacy had gained yet another example of how shared knowledge and experiences result in an archive of solutions that can be applied and replicated over the years.
“In addition to encouraging the emergence of innovative ideas that can be applied in our own Organization, the awards ensure that our members share their acquired knowledge within the company, which helps improve the work done in all spheres of activity,” says Camila Dantas, the Braskem officer Responsible for Education and Careers. “The Braskem Highlight Awards recognize professionals by valuing their knowledge. This helps increase productivity while encouraging creativity,” she adds.
At the Braskem unit in São Paulo, Camila and the other organizers of the awards keep track of entries for the next edition, which are due by July. At this stage, the routine will gradually create a climate in which creativity and the exchange of ideas predominate – in many cases, ideas that have already been tried and tested within the Organization. “People begin to form groups, which ends up creating pools of expertise. With each passing year, we have seen the awards make a contribution in this regard,” she says.
According to Camila, the number of entries in 2012 is expected to exceed the milestones reached in previous years. And this expectation is justified. In 2011, the competition totaled 194 entries, 20% more than 2007, the first year the awards were held. During that period, the program made adjustments aligned with Braskem’s Vision for 2020, such as the number of participants per group and the inclusion of new categories. Other categories have been eliminated for strategic reasons. Now in its sixth edition, Braskem offers Highlight Awards in four categories: Innovative Solutions, HSE (Health, Safety and Environment), Adding Value for the Client and Continuous Improvement.
Conceived as a tool for recording and sharing knowledge, the Braskem Highlight Awards are held annually. All company members can participate, as long as each group has at least two members. Entries must be original and unpublished, and implemented the same year or the year before each edition. Criteria such as sustainability, originality and impact on the company’s development are taken into account when selecting the best entries.
From team member to leader
Most members who submit winning projects share the feeling that this is a form of recognition and are encouraged to participate in other editions. The resulting exchange of experiences and knowledge also ends up having a positive impact on their professional careers. “I can safely say this award has directly influenced my career, because I’ve gone from being a team member to a leader,” says Braskem Product Development Manager Alessandro Lima. Alessandro and his group won the 2010 Braskem Highlight Awards in the Adding Value for the Client category.
Along with colleagues Nicolai Duboc Natal, Fernando Cruz and João Caiado (the latter two are former company members), Alessandro developed a new alternative for the Brazilian offshore industry’s logistics: producing and supplying a type of polypropylene that Petrobras had previously imported to coat oil pipelines. “Our direct client was not Petrobras, but the suppliers of that polymer. And it was much more advantageous for them to have a Brazilian product and technical assistance in this country.”
Used as an insulator, the polypropylene maintains the temperature at which oil is extracted from the earth. Furthermore, the polymer protects steel pipelines from seawater corrosion. Braskem underwent a lengthy approval process to be accredited as a supplier of the raw material for Petrobras. “It is Petrobras’s policy to promote the national oil industry, and we were able to contribute to that effort,” says an exultant Nicolai Duboc Natal, Braskem’s Polypropylene Marketing Coordinator. “Better yet, we can use this technical track record in other applications, now that Braskem already has the know-how,” he adds.