As a result of its firm commitment to innovation, Sidenor has been rewarded at the 5th edition of the Vodafone Deia Innovation Sariak, in the category of Steelmaking Reference; the awards ceremony will take place on October 11th at the Guggenheim Museum.
How do you feel as a prizewinner?
-Sidenor firmly commits to innovation. We created our R&D centre almost 35 years ago, focusing on the development of new products for our customers from the car sector. Since then, we have been increasingly seeking to adapt to their needs, and we have extended our innovation activity to other special steel market sectors, such as energy, gas and oil, railway… On the other hand, we have continuously opened up to the world around us and, in this sense, we participate in various innovation programmes: Bind 4.0, Open Future…; we are also working on various projects together with other technology centres.
Can innovation enhance the quality of your products?
-Without any doubt; indeed, many of our technological developments aim at decreasing the variability of our industry processes, improving the control of process parameters and ensuring the quality and composition of the products we provide our customers with. An example of this are our latest developments aiming at continuously measuring the bar date through artificial vision procedures, or a worldwide pioneer marking system for the complete traceability of our bars which, together with the Big Data cluster we have created, will allow us to perform a real-time exhaustive X-ray of our process, and thus anticipate potential defects.
Is it the tool to use for efficient production?
-Innovation is a key factor for competitiveness and survival these days. It is integrated in our daily management and we use this tool to improve all our processes. It definitely allows us to progress towards our efficiency objectives, as it complements the incremental profits brought by continuous improvement tools with more disruptive and broader advances.
Which is Sidenor’s innovative strategy to reach the objectives it has set?
-We make every attempt to convey the innovative impulse from the top of the company to all strata of the organization, so that innovation can be a responsibility of all, transversally. We want innovation to be part of our culture and to characterize our way of working. The ideas generated in each department and in transversal groups flow, and the competent bodies decide on the implementation of the ideas that will allow Sidenor to achieve its strategy.
Are you planning investments with regard to innovation?
-Of course. Actually, we are carrying out investment efforts in 4 fields: investments in industrial equipment in order to position ourselves at the forefront of our sector; investments for our digital roadmap (with four pillars: Smart Factory, Smart Business, Industry 4.0 and Cybersecurity); the training of our teams in order to adapt their skills to the needs of digital industry and, finally, investments in our almost 35 year-old technology R&D centre, with 45 engineers, physicists and chemists.
What do the DEIA Innovation Sariak prizes mean to you?
-In my opinion, these prizes play an important role to convey the fundamental value of innovation for the future of society, as well as its capacity to generate wealth and well-being, to public opinion. Besides, it is an excellent way of recognising the work of its most outstanding members. For my part, it is a great pleasure to receive this distinction from Deia Innovation Sariak; it helps us and encourages us to continue along this path we embarked on so long ago.
Do you believe it is important, these days, to recognize the innovative role of Basque commpanies and institutions ¿Cree que es importante en estos momentos reconocer el papel innovador de empresas e instituciones vascas?
-Without any doubt, public recognition is the breeding ground for companies and institutions to regard innovation as a major tool to reach their objectives. The company is one of the pillars of the current society’s building and articulation. In my opinion, it is essential to recognize its contribution to social progress.
Is the Euskadi working towards providing companies with the necessary infrastructure to become a leading community in terms of innovation?
-The Basque institutions are making a great effort to create the conditions for the Euskadi to be part of the leading group of innovative countries. In comparison with other geographical areas, we are very fortunate that the industry represents a major part of our GDP, and there is no doubt that the industrial ecosystem provides much more favourable conditions for the development of innovation. The support of Basque institutions to industrial companies, and to technology centres, is an important element in promoting innovative spirit.
How would you define the Basque innovative culture?
-Out territory is small, and many of our companies are small, too, but this also allows us to be agile and to fast bring ideas to market. The size and financial strength of a company are important but, as we are relatively small, we are able to quickly address solutions that others, due to their size, see as unattractive. In our country, we have significant examples of leading companies at European, even world level, in their sector.