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Messer - Geschäftsbericht 2008
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Corporate culture

A sustainable approach to running the business is the cornerstone of our corporate strategy and enables us to achieve success on a long-term basis. Our approach considers factors relating to the environment, mankind and society, as well as achieving success in business terms.

Our commitment to integrity is not only restricted to our products and applications: it also determines all facets of our business activities and provides the foundation for our guiding principles and strategies.

Within the Messer Group, cooperation is based on reliability, honesty, transparency and open communication. We respect and value the different cultural and social customs of all the countries in which we are represented. The Messer Group is committed to being open and honest so that customers, business partners and the general public can rightfully perceive the company as a trustworthy organization. Our mission statement is based on six core principles which are supplemented by guidelines applicable to all employees and a code of conduct which serves as the basis for all business processes within the Messer Group.

A further important aspect of our corporate culture is a close relationship between industry and science: a good example of this is the integration of our welding center of expertise in Germany into the facilities of the Hochschule Niederrhein in Krefeld. Working together with this university, the tenth largest in Germany, we aim to achieve synergy benefits in the field of joining technology. The proximity of our Krefeld site to the university and the latter’s infrastructure provide good opportunities to cooperate in fields of joint interest. The close contact maintained with the university’s Materials and Joining Technology departments enables technical knowledge to be exchanged and facilitates joint work on innovative projects. By offering facilities for doctorate work, we are able to give a helping hand to students, a policy which may stand us in good stead at a later date when it comes to finding welltrained employees in the future.

 

Our employees

The Messer Group had an average worldwide workforce in 2008 of 4,902 employees, each contributing to the success of the business with his or her extensive knowledge, ideas, know-how, longstanding experience, motivation and active commitment. In 2007, the Group had had an average worldwide workforce of 4,364 employees. The increase in 2008 was attributable mainly to the growth of business in China and the recruitment of employees for newly acquired and newly founded companies.

We make full use of our employees' experience, always endeavouring to promote greater professionalism. Indirectly, this also contributes to making young people enthusiastic about our business and helps us to acquire well-trained staff for the future. We endeavour to promote the necessary willingness of employees with the aid of individual performance and results-related income components and remuneration systems, internal/external training measures, career promotion systems and social facilities.

We are fully aware that the success of the business is founded on the commitment and expertise of our employees. Since it is considered to be a crucial aspect of business to develop employee skills from an early stage, the Messer Group particularly focuses on the training of young people. Investing in the education and training of the younger generation are considered key aspects of maintaining the underlying strength of the business and ensuring a future for Germany as a business location. Internal training is therefore considered a top priority for the Messer Group with an apprenticeship ratio in Germany at over 5 %. We train school leavers in the areas of industrial business studies, office communications, mechatronic engineering, IT data processing and IT support. We are also once again trying to attract more university leavers in Germany. In order to deal with the shortage of trained personnel in Serbia, Messer has answered its own call for better training by setting up a welding technology center at the University of Belgrade.

As at December 31, 2008 approximately 90 % of our employees were working in non-German speaking countries. A good communication network is particularly important in an organization with international operations. In addition to the annual conference for managers, various other annual meetings are held at which specialist staff have the opportunity to discuss new technological developments or report on relevant legal changes (know-how transfer) and to formulate new strategies. All newly appointed executives and managers are prepared for their future tasks during an initial induction phase over a period of several weeks during which they are get to know group entities and segments at close quarters. As well as providing a good insight into the activities of the Group, this process also helps to strengthen international networking and intercultural competence.

Uniform guidelines relating to “ideas management” are in place throughout the Messer Group. One of the core objectives of these guidelines is to ensure that suggestions for improvement are implemented throughout the whole of the Group. All employees are encouraged to apply their experience and knowledge in order to make suggestions for improvement in areas outside their immediate area of responsibility. An ideas management team was set up to investigate whether suggestions from the various group companies can be applied in other countries. In some countries, including Germany, employees have the option to submit suggestions directly using an appropriate IT tool. It is already evident that the number and quality of improvement suggestions has been raised following implementation of the guidelines. Employees submitting suggestions can receive interesting rewards for their ideas.

 

Safety, environmental care and quality

Safety, environmental protection and quality are firmly embedded within Messer’s corporate principles and have a very high priority. Messer is committed to the protection of its employees and to the safe manufacture, use and handling of its products. The working standards employed are designed to ensure the health and well-being of each individual. The environment must always be protected. Work standards are continually being improved in order to avoid any danger for people or the environment. It will only be possible for us to achieve all of our work safety objectives in the future if we maintain a safe and healthy business environment, aimed at meeting the needs and requirements of our customers and employees and complying with all existing legislation.

The accident rate of 1.9 working accidents per million hours worked is lower than in the previous year, and the number of days lost through accidents remained constant (416 days lost). The severity of accidents was reduced to 49 days lost per million hours worked.

At the winter session of the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) in 2008, the Messer Group received various awards for exemplary work safety. Elme Messer Gaas A.S., Lithuania, Messer Mostar Plin d.o.o., Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Messer Technogas s.r.o., Czech Republic, each won silver safety awards for having operated for 500,000 working hours or ten years in a row without an accident resulting in lost working days. Gold safety awards were won by Messer Algérie SpA., Algeria, and by Messer Odra Gas spol s.r.o., Czech Republic, and Messer Tatragas spol s.r.o, Slovakia. Messer France S.A.S., France, won a bronze award.

During 2008, internal SHEQ audits were performed at seven subsidiaries and risk analyses of cylinder filling plants were performed at eight subsidiaries. The Messer Group has been a member of the Action Group for the European Road Safety Charter since June 2008. By signing this charter we have committed ourselves to supporting the common aim of the EU programme of action to halve the number of road deaths in Europe by 2010. For logistical reasons, a large proportion of our products are transported by road. We therefore attach great importance to transporting industrial gases as safely as possible and to ensuring that our employees and tanker drivers act carefully. Increasing safety awareness and achieving a greater understanding of risks are objectives which can be considered just as important as improving safety measures. Our endeavours to improve safety on European roads have become a part of our corporate philosophy. We are currently in the process of drawing up a new handbook covering all safety aspects of transporting industrial and medical gases in tanks/cylinders by road. Every driver will be required to participate in a training course on how to act in emergency situations. A new system of compiling statistical data with regard to road safety is being developed to measure how successful we have been.

The Messer Group attaches great importance to using resources efficiently and in an environmental friendly way. Our new air separation plants are constructed very much with energy efficiency in mind. Once built, we continue to work on reducing their average energy consumption. This helps to protect the environment as much as possible on the one hand and improves the efficiency of the Group of the other. Messer’s commitment to the environment is also evident in the fact that its management systems are certified to ISO 9001, ISO 14000, ISO 14001 and ISO/IEC 17025 standard. These systems serve as important tools for developing and intensifying relationships with customers, employees and the environment. At present, ten Messer companies are certified to ISO 14001 standard (environment). The latest to receive ISO 9001 and 14001 certification are the new sales locations in Sulzbach and Siegen and the cylinder filling plant in Siegen. Two of our special gas laboratories – in Mitry-Mory, France, and Machelen, Belgium – were certified in 2008 as being compliant with the special laboratory norm ISO/IEC 17025. The competence obtained through these measures is the key to transparent earnings, trust and international comparability.

In 2009, further SHEQ audits and risk analyses will be carried out at subsidiaries, environmental issued documented, protective equipment procured and permits obtained where necessary. The depth of our commitment in this area reflects our understanding of the fact that safety and environmental care will represent an even greater focal point of industrial activities in the coming years.

 

IT environment within the Messer Group

All IT support work for the Messer Group has been handled since mid-2006 by Messer Information Services GmbH (“MIS”), a joint venture set up together with the MEC Group which is based in Groß-Umstadt, Germany. This IT company covers the complete range of requirements of both groups. Running and further developing the IT infrastructure for the Messer Group and the MEC Group are central to MIS’s daily operations.

Based on the strategic IT project “Server Based Computing Rollout”, numerous group entities have been integrated into the MIS’s global infrastructure which covers the various national companies of the Messer Group and the MEC Group. The consolidation of databases and tools and the use of a standardized office landscape for the Citrix technologies used by Messer entities help to save costs whilst at the same time optimising the IT security and infrastructure of the whole Group. In the period since the start of the project in 2005 through to the end of 2008, the number of employees with access to data and IT applications via the new Citrix infrastructure has increased from 300 to 1,305.

The “Disaster Recovery” project was set in motion in 2008 and will culminate in the near future with the construction of an emergency computer center. Disaster recovery, which focuses on the backup of data and the recovery of damaged or lost data after unforeseeable catastrophes, such as fire, floods and storms, represents an integral component of a state-of-the-art IT strategy.

A further focus is on the harmonization of SAP applications used throughout the Messer Group. Following completion of a prototype project in March 2007, the process of rolling out the project to the Group’s companies has now started. At the end of 2008, ten companies were working on the newly harmonized SAP platform. A further three joined in February 2009. When the SAP harmonization project is completed, some 22 European Messer Group companies will be working within a single SAP system. Standardizing production and logistics systems creates opportunities to reduce costs on a sustainable basis. It also enables Messer to present itself its customers with a uniform high quality of services across borders, achieving a greater depth of service and helping to increase supply loyalty.

 


 

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