R&D central innovation
Designing innovative, high performance products and solutions to improve our habitat and everyday life is at the heart of Saint-Gobain's strategy. This is a responsibility for the Group’s teams, as well as a major source of motivation. Through their innovations, the teams contribute to reducing the environmental impacts of buildings, processes and the development of new high-performance solutions.
RESEARCH THAT ANTICIPATES FUTURE CHALLENGES
Innovation is the Group’s greatest differentiating strength in the face of growing competition and numerous new players in its markets.
For high value-added products, Saint-Gobain’s ability to combine cutting-edge technology and design is often a major advantage for enhancing its leadership position. In markets where the competition is concentrated on low cost offers, continuous innovation to reduce production costs and offer increasingly effective customer service is the only way to stay competitive.
EIGHT STRATEGIC PROGRAMS
Saint-Gobain’s strategic research programs correspond to a portfolio of projects that open the door to emerging markets and technologies.
- Active glass glazing
- High-performance insulation systems
- External wall insulation systems
- Functional flexible films
- Energy efficient and the environmental impact of friendly processes
- Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC)
- Exploratory: energy storage
LISTENING TO MARKET NEEDS
The Group’s strategic growth, combined with the gradual transformation of the habitat and construction markets, has created a spirit of openness and attentiveness to customer needs at Saint-Gobain. To meet customer expectations and anticipate emerging demand, the Group is developing new research skills and fostering a stronger culture of partnership and co-development.
DEVELOPING A CULTURE OF ECO-INNOVATION
As part of a rigorous improvement approach, Saint-Gobain has set the goal of conducting life cycle assessments for all its building industry product ranges.
Life cycle assessments are a scientific tool for conducting a multi-criteria analysis of a product’s total potential environmental impacts, from extraction of raw materials to production, distribution, installation, use, end of service life and recycling.
Once the environmental footprint has been measured, the Group can use the life cycle assessments to start reducing these products’ environmental impact while creating value. This is the dual objective of Saint-Gobain’s eco-innovation strategy. For the Group, eco-innovation should provide customers with real value-added by offering products and solutions that minimize the environmental impact of buildings and infrastructure across their full life cycle. A product or solution is eco-innovative if it helps reduce the use of resources (notably energy and water) in buildings and infrastructure and/or if it has a smaller environmental impact across its life cycle.
Many examples demonstrate the growing percentage of eco-innovative products and solutions in the Group’s innovation portfolio. Saint-Gobain’s commitment to this initiative can be seen in the following market successes.
- 2009 : PAM's Blutop lighter-weight pipes
- 2009 : Verallia’s eco-designed EcoVa bottles
- 2010 : Saint-Gobain Glass’s Miralite Revolution lead-free mirrors
- 2012 : weber.therm A200 composite external wall insulation systems combined with weber.pas top surface coating
- 2013 : Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics’ new range of Tygon® bio-sourced phthalate- and BPA-free tubing
- 2013 : Saint-Gobain Sekurit’s SGS CoolCoat heat reflective windshield that reduces the need for air conditioning, thereby lowering fuel consumption for an environmentally friendly result
Saint-Gobain’s objective is to spread this culture of eco-innovation more systematically throughout its organization. This means creating awareness and providing in-depth training for researchers, as well as for marketing, purchasing, health-environment-safety and production teams. Eco-innovation is systemic and requires continuous dialogue among all the functions involved. Teams will need a common vocabulary and tools to define objectives, as well as the necessary resources to achieve those objectives.
Saint-Gobain has been deploying specific training programs in the Activities and country organizations since mid-2012 to inform all managers and their teams about the integration of eco-innovation in existing innovation processes. These efforts continued in 2013 and will be expanded in the years ahead.