Michelin gets Solvay’s SolWatt treatment for energy efficiency!

With commitments to sustainable practices being pledged across industries, Sebastien Buret from Solvay’s Excellence Center sheds light on how the Group is putting promise into practice through cross-industry collaboration. 

In an act of mutual corporate intimacy, Michelin reached out to Solvay last year for help in the development of a new energy efficiency methodology to achieve sustainability outcomes. Both companies share ambitions for a greener business, with strong commitments in terms of absolute CO2 emissions reductions. Michelin’s target is a reduction of 50% by 2050 compared with 2010, and Solvay’s is a 1 million tonne reduction by 2025 compared with 2017.


The right chemistry for tire manufacturing

While Michelin was able to develop a successful energy efficiency methodology for their tire manufacturing plants – the same methods proved less effective for their chemical plant in Bassens, France. Michelin Bassens is specialised in manufacturing synthetic rubber, which is then mixed with Solvay’s silica – this upstream activity supplies most of Michelin’s European tire manufacturing plants. 

Forming an easy alliance, Solvay’s Excellence Center took the ball and sent Sebastien on a short mission to Bassens. Acting as a mentor, he carried over knowledge and good practice directly from Solvay’s SolWatt program and conducted his mission by facilitating an energy efficiency diagnostic. The first phase of the diagnostic analysed and developed initiatives across three key pillars – technical systems, performance management, and mindsets and behaviors – consisting of technical brainstorming sessions, KPI structure analysis, and a mirror workshop with the management team (a reflective workshop based on collected data from employee surveys, interviews and observations).


The program identified 27 technical initiatives to be launched within the next two years. The energy savings to be made are estimated at a 10% annual reduction on the perimeter studied. An additional 12% of potential gain stands to be analysed. In a nod to the name SolWatt, Michelin’s “BibWatt” program will launch a second phase in 2020, with further plans to implement a similar strategy in the US. 

Sharing different best practices on industrial topics such as operational safety, CAPEX excellence and employee management is part of a customer intimacy mindset that is helping to strengthen Solvay’s relationship with Michelin.

Bruno Jestin, Tire Global Business Director

A successful initiative in energy efficiency

The enthusiasm of both Groups is easy to detect. Sebastien is optimistic about further gains to be made and is pleased to see two industries partnering for the sake of the planet. The mission has proven to be a successful initiative in energy efficiency – enabled by existing customer intimacy relations.


Olivier Selosse, Responsible for Group energy performance and Fellow energy at Michelin, adds that SolWatt has provided a solution to their internal energy performance approach, and facilitated mindset and behavioral change. Adding that they have found ‘a new way to push forward’. 

For Nicolas Van der Heyden, Energy Efficiency Manager at Solvay’s Excellence Center, “This collaboration with Michelin provided some insights and good practices about energy efficiency, some of which [Solvay] is thinking of replicating at [its own] plants.” 

Having set things in motion for Michelin, Solvay will not be involved in the second phase of BibWatt. The Group’s participation, however, has led to renewed dynamism too for Solvay, and further cemented an existing, successful business relationship!