Our markets

We promote and apply responsible and sustainable business practices in all our business and community relationships. Our sourcing and innovation programs enhance sustainability throughout the value chain. To us, sustainability is about economic success, about the safety and development of our employees, about lasting relationships with our business partners, and about environmental stewardship and social progress. This way, Bekaert translates sustainability into a benefit for all stakeholders.

better together in the communities where we are active

Bekaert strives to be a loyal and responsible partner in the communities where we are active. We interact with the local governments in a transparent, constructive way. We do not support political institutions and in our communications, we adopt a neutral position with respect to political issues. We are firmly committed to complying with national legislations and collective labor agreements. Bekaert adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the treaties and recommendations of the International Labor Organization.

better together with our customers

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. 

Bekaert has a strong presence in diverse sectors. This makes Bekaert less sensitive to sector-specific trends and it also benefits our customers, because solutions we develop for customers in one sector often form the basis of innovations in others. 

Sectorial breakdown of Bekaert’s combined sales in 2017:

Bekaert has production facilities and sales offices in 40 countries and builds lasting relationships with customers and suppliers, wherever we do business. Our geographic presence and product offering are aligned with the local business opportunities and demand. This is visible in the sectorial breakdown by segment.
Segment reporting_900
Supporting our customers’ sustainability programs

We actively cooperate with customers in sustainability initiatives. We support our customers’ sustainability programs by implementing specific actions in our respective policies and by joining sustainability initiatives and standards to accommodate their priorities. Acting as a socially and environmentally responsible supplier helps our customers achieve their sustainability targets too.
Innovation & co-development

More than 80% of Bekaert’s global portfolio of R&D projects is targeting distinct benefits in terms of health & safety and the environment. They help achieve the sustainability ambitions of our customers and of our own operations. These R&D projects consist of innovations that:
  • limit the use of natural and harmful resources
  • lower the energy consumption and exhaust
  • increase recycling opportunities
  • enhance safety
  • address the renewable energy market needs

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. 

Some examples of our innovative R&D projects:
  • Bekaert’s super-tensile and ultra-tensile steel cord ranges for tire reinforcement allow tire makers to produce tires with a lower weight, thinner plies, and lower rolling resistance. This revolution enables a 15% reduction of the total tire weight, thereby decreasing the CO2 emissions of a vehicle by 250 kg or a global reduction by 850 million kg of CO2 per year. We target a global annual reduction of 1 billion kg of CO2 by 2020 and 1.3 billion kg of CO2 by 2025, driven by the positive effects of growth, innovation and product-mix. (GRI 305-5 scope 3)
  • Bekaert successfully developed a 3rd generation sawing wire technology and product. Sawing wire allows manufacturers in the photovoltaic industry to cut polysilicon ingots into wafers for the production of solar cells with a minimum loss of material. The diamond wire, developed by the sawing wire R&D team in China, has been tested and approved by all targeted customers.
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. (GRI 418-1)

In 2017, a centralized project team started preparing for compliance with the new EU General Data Protection Regulation. The confidentiality principles on data privacy of this EU regulation are obviously also respected towards our customers worldwide. (GRI 418-1)
Listening to our customers

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 on request of the specific customer.

In November 2017 Bekaert organized the first phase of a global Net Promoter Score (NPS) Survey. It is the first time that such survey is organized across all business platforms and on a global scale. NPS surveys are used to gauge the loyalty of customer relationships by measuring the likeliness that customers would recommend Bekaert to other companies, colleagues or business partners. In the first customer group, the survey covered 50% of Bekaert’s Top 80% revenue customers and growth accounts. In a next phase (May 2018) the remaining 50% will be asked to participate. The survey coordination and analysis are managed by an independent market research agency, ICMA Group.

Net Promotor Scores for international B2B manufacturing companies on average attain 20 to 30%. Bekaert was very pleased with the first phase outcome of the global NPS Survey and a score of 50%, far above average.  More important are, however, the results per business activity and region, from which we can learn to better understand and improve customer relationships and excellence. (GRI 102-43 + GRI 102-44)
Open innovation

Apart from customer-specific R&D, Bekaert also seeks international partnerships with universities and research institutes to foster open innovation on various research themes. In 2017, we continued our cooperation programs with academic institutions, technology clusters and research partners from different parts of the world.
Technology partnerships 2017

better together with our suppliers

Our Supply Chain

Steel wire rod is the main raw material used for the manufacturing of steel wire products. Bekaert purchases different grades of wire rod from steel mills from around the world and transforms them into steel wire and steel wire products by using mechanical and heat treatment processes, as well as by applying unique coating technologies. The wire products produced by Bekaert are shipped to industrial customers who further process our material into half or end products; or to end-customers, directly or via distribution channels.

Bekaert has about 20 000 active suppliers of which 52% are delivering into EMEA, 13% in Latin America, 10% in North America and 25% in Asia Pacific.
Steel wire rod represents more than 50% of the total Bekaert spend and is ordered from 120  different vendors. The supply process is managed by the Purchasing function. 

(GRI 102-9)

Bekaert Supply Chain

Supply Chain Excellence

Bekaert further rolled out its Supply Chain Excellence (SCE) program that was launched in 2016 and covers the total supply chain. The program has the ambition to install a best-in-class demand-driven supply chain, reacting to real-time signals from customers, suppliers and our business. (GRI 102-10)

Building a sustainable supply chain

Bekaert’s purchasing department continued its engagement to enhance sustainability awareness and control with our suppliers. The Bekaert Supplier Code of Conduct outlines environmental, labor and governance related requirements that suppliers shall comply with (or deliver proof of following its principles). At the end of 2017 this supplier commitment represented 82% of spend coverage, compared with 75% in 2016. 

The use of Key Supplier Agreements remains very important for the purchase of wire rod and was expanded to the other supply categories. Key supplier agreements are multi-year partnerships in which sustainability, supply chain integration and innovation are explicit building blocks. 

All wire rod suppliers as well as suppliers of other critical materials are formally evaluated on a yearly base, and corrective action plans are put in place when the minimum required levels have not been reached. These action plans are closely monitored in order to keep the focus on improvement high. (GRI 308-1 + GRI 407-1 + GRI 408-1 + GRI 409-1 + GRI 414-1 + GRI 414-2)

Responsible sourcing of minerals

Bekaert recognizes the importance of responsible sourcing. In 2017, all suppliers covered by the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), formerly known as Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI), signed the Bekaert Supplier Code of Conduct (or delivered proof of following its principles) and 100% of our tin suppliers completed the most recent Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT). This is an initiative of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), formerly known as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSi), that help companies from a range of industries address conflict mineral issues in their supply chain. Bekaert also implemented a Conflict Free Minerals policy. 

By 2020 Bekaert wants 100% of its tin and tungsten suppliers to complete the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT), formerly known as CFSI template, annually. We will also set up a due diligence structure to comply with the anticipated 2021 legislation changes. (GRI 408-1 + GRI 409-1)

Local sourcing

In sourcing raw materials and other supply needs, Bekaert sources locally (i.e. in the same region as where the materials are being processed), unless when the sourcing options are inadequate in terms of quality or cost.

Bekaert supply sources and use by region (regions: EMEA, North America, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific.) (GRI 204-1)

Bekaert local sourcing 2017
Anti-corruption policies and procedures

All Bekaert employees receive the “Bekaert Code of Conduct” upon entering the company. This document includes the Bekaert anti-corruption policy & procedures. All managers and all white collars are required to renew their commitment to the Bekaert Code of Conduct annually and to pass a test on business ethics cases. The Code has also been integrated in all new labor contracts for white and blue collars worldwide.

Particular training programs on the Code of Conduct and on anti-corruption and anti-bribery policies are also provided to functional groups (eg. the purchasing function). In addition, the Group Internal Audit department regularly audits the adherence to the respective policies and procedures, and recommends corrective actions where necessary. All policies are available on the Bekaert Intranet. (GRI 205-2)
Other market place related data

Direct economic value generated and distributed: all data are available in the Financial Review chapter of the Bekaert Annual Report 2017 §5.2, § 5.3, § 5.5, § 6.12 (GRI 201-1).