In conversation with CEO Colin Zegers
Reducing and preventing emissions is becoming increasingly important, especially in the industrial sector. It is crucial to not only focus on visible emissions at the end of a production process but also on the 'invisible' emissions during the process itself. The Zeeland-based company ITIS can play a significant role in this if given the opportunity.
Many tons of raw materials and energy are often lost unnoticed during a production process. "For example, through poorly functioning valves, defective seals, and worn gland packings," explains Colin Zegers. He is the CEO of ITIS, a company specialized in testing and inspecting such industrial components. ITIS has developed a monitoring system to assess the extent of emissions damage. "The leakage figures we are currently observing are enormous. There is still a long way to go towards zero emissions in 2050. We are more than willing to contribute to this goal."
To get the chance.
That is not an easy task. "It's difficult to gain access to industrial companies. They primarily focus on meeting their regulatory obligations, and as long as they comply with them, there is little motivation to make further improvements. A political obligation is needed to bring about change in this regard, unless, of course, we are given the opportunity to demonstrate the potential savings. For instance, when you consider steam leaks, a company can save tens of thousands of euros quickly."
Savings within ITIS itself.
Colin is continuously looking for cost-saving opportunities within his own company as well. "For example, we have a modern building with good insulation, LED lighting throughout, and 138 solar panels. However, we do encounter the issue that these solar panels produce too much in the summer and too little in the winter, so we still need to rely on the grid. Ideally, we would like to have our own buffer, such as battery packs, or maybe even a conversion to hydrogen as an energy storage solution in the future."
If you're not careful.
Whether and how this could be a solution, especially in light of other developments, is a challenging issue for Colin. "Partly because the energy market fluctuates so much and I miss government policy, it's difficult for me to determine a direction. Furthermore, as an entrepreneur, you want to invest your time in your company. If you're not careful, you end up spending 20% of your time on these matters and you lose a lot of energy in the meantime because making choices is so difficult."
Discussion about energy conservation.
According to Colin, an external advisor could provide a solution. "However, you need to be careful that you have someone who is not promoting their own interests. A solar panel expert will always recommend solar panels. From Impuls Zeeland, I've received a proposal to discuss energy conservation with someone. I'm certainly open to that, but I lacked sufficient time in the past quarter."
The coach's knowledge.
When an independent Transition Coach comes by, Colin adds that they must also be well-versed. "They need to be aware of the available techniques and the numbers. I don't want vague concepts like 'short payback period.' I want to know specifically how much it costs and saves, the exact payback period, and which subsidies I can take advantage of."
Attention to the individual company.
A Transition Coach, according to Colin, should also consider the specific situation of a company. "Regarding the starting point and technical options, as well as financial capabilities. Some companies have plenty of money while others have to pinch every penny. This also affects the advice. Customization is crucial. Knowledge of the specific industry in which a company operates is, in that regard, less important in my opinion. We already have that expertise in-house."
Colin sees KicMPi as a good candidate for the supply of independent Transition Coaches, just as he does with Impuls Zeeland. "It seems to me that these parties should join forces and not work separately. They can strengthen each other."
Differences but also many similarities.
While companies like Century Aluminum, Chabel, and ITIS differ significantly from each other, there are also significant similarities in recognizing the urgency of energy transition, their individual needs, and the (external) support they can benefit from.
- It's not easy to determine on your own which steps are best to take in the energy transition.
- Available techniques and technologies are changing rapidly, and the factors that influence the business case, such as energy prices, are subject to significant fluctuation
- The fresh perspective of an outsider or transition coach can be of significant value, especially for smaller companies. A transition coach should pay attention to the specific circumstances of a company.
- Important requirements placed on this outsider include:
- In-depth knowledge of technology and the operational processes of a company.
- The transition coach must be independent and must not have any vested interests in suppliers or competitors.
- Understanding the issues and challenges well, as well as the ability to match these challenges with a solution and a supplier, is crucial. Companies expect as concrete advice as possible, and regional partners who can assist them in the implementation are essential.
- In addition to advice on technology and suppliers, understanding the business case is also crucial.
- Collaboration and coordination between organizations like KicMPi and Impuls Zeeland are seen as an added value. Recent discussions that KicMPi has had with various members have confirmed the above picture and need.
- Recent discussions that KicMPi has had with various members have confirmed the above picture and need.