SAFRAN: Green for the Right Reasons

With 69,000 employees and sales over 15 billion euros, Safran is France’s largest defense contractor. Safran, its name meaning “rudder blade,” is comprised of 11 companies which design and manufacture aircraft- and rocket engines, aerospace components, as well as security products.

Safran is serious about security. A visit to their office in Saclay, the Silicon Valley of France, requires a three-day vetting process and identification checked at multiple points. And this company so dedicated to national security is equally dedicated to sustainable practices.

Green everywhere

“The green approach is natural for Safran,” says Project Manager Jonathan Velmy, who reels off a list of Safran’s green practices.

Safran’s lighting is LED and water use is closely monitored to reduce consumption (the reflecting pool uses rainwater only). Ensto socket boxes and lighting systems are used in Safran factories and, taking one more step toward green, Ensto EV charging poles are being installed at Safran factories around Paris.

Safran needed a sustainable way to transport employees between its five factories surrounding Paris, so it decided to build a green fleet.

After two years of planning and dialogue, Ensto was named supplier for EV charging points in December 2014 with a delivery time of four months. Visiting in April, all poles were in place, and Velmy, together with Ensto Sales Manager Jérôme Perdu, peeled the protective plastic from the stainless steel poles.

Why Ensto?

Safran spends roughly eight billion euros each year through its suppliers, but becoming one means meeting the highest standards. “Ensto was an approved supplier,” says Velmy, who is responsible for Safran’s EV system from inception to completion. “We’d used them at other sites with very positive results in terms of technology and quality.”

“The modularity of the Ensto product made sense for us,” notes Velmy. Safran currently has ten EVs plus five charging poles at each of five sites, and modularity enables the growth of a charging structure.

“As Safran expands its fleet, Dynamic Load Management and software management enable them to globally manage the fleet,” explains Perdu. This means growth without changing the main power structure and easy addition of features that allow drivers to reserve particular charging poles.

Build it and they will come

Although the poles were originally installed with Safran’s internal fleet in mind, Velmy says employees saw them and wanted to charge. The Saclay facility now has poles both indoors and out, so that guests may also charge their cars, proving that leadership in sustainability inspires followers.

As a leader, Safran is exploring technologies to make tomorrow’s aircraft engines quieter, cleaner and more fuel efficient, with a target of a 75 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, a 90 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides, and 65 percent reduction in perceived noise.

But it’s at ground level that Safran’s commitment is most visible. After having espressos in Safran’s cafeteria, Velmy carefully separates wood stir sticks from plastic cups and paper sugar packages. He deposits each in its appropriate bin.

A visiting journalist asks if this careful separation is routine. “We have one waste bin for every eight people in Saclay,” Velmy notes. “We just don’t like waste.”

Author: Scott Diel