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Silicones as problem solvers

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Dow Silicones Belgium is part of Dow Consumer Solutions, which is one of the six DOW business units in the EMEAI region – with a total of 38 production facilities. Headquartered in the USA, Dow is one of the world’s largest chemical companies manufacturing a broad range of products. Dow operates 113 manufacturing sites in 31 countries and employs approximately 37,000 people. Dow supplies customers in diverse markets such as automotive, construction, consumer products, electronics, energy, infrastructure, packaging and water.

“Our plant in Belgium has existed since 1970,” says Frank van der Meer, Site Leader Seneffe. “Until 2016, it had been jointly owned by Dow and the American technology company Corning when it was taken over completely by Dow. Today, we are a 100% subsidiary of Dow, with the group’s European head office in Horgen, Switzerland.”

The Dow plant in Seneffe in Wallonia employs approximately 450 people and produces different silicones for three major market segments: home and personal care, including additives for detergents and dishwasher tabs; adhesive and pressure sensitive applications, like bar code labels, luggage badges and baking paper, and high-performance building applications. “The latter primarily comprises sealing silicones such as for windows,” explains Mr. van der Meer.

“These silicones have to meet the highest requirements and withstand a broad spectrum of diverse weather conditions. Dow silicones have been used in 13 of the world’s 20 highest skyscrapers. While offering a wide choice of standard silicones, Dow is always available to innovate together with our customers and develop individually customized solutions. Customer-driven innovation, ‘seek together,’ is our strength,” states Mr. van der Meer. “Recently, we designed a material that can be used in a 3D printed, customized shoe sole to achieve the perfect fit for any individual.”

As part of Dow, Dow Silicones Belgium ships its products to customers across Europe as well as to the USA and Asia. “We are a globally operating company,” says Mr. van der Meer. “We also benefit from synergies within the bigger group. Until the acquisition by Dow three years ago, our focus had been on silicones. Now, with the integration into Dow, we have gained access to the carbon chemistry set, which gives us completely new opportunities. We are now developing new hybrid product solutions combining silicones and carbon chemicals.”

Frank van der Meer
For every ton of CO2 emitted in manufacturing our products, 9 t can be saved thanks to the use of this solution. Frank van der MeerSite Leader

Dow has a strong focus on research and development. In Belgium alone, the company has about 150 people involved in R&D activities. “Constant product innovation is part of our DNA,” states Mr. van der Meer. Dow also plays a leading role in production automation and digital sales. “We use robots and drones in manufacturing as far as possible, especially in potentially hazardous areas, to enhance staff safety, and we have our own online digital platform where customers can order directly:

With its silicone production, Dow Silicones Belgium contributes to achieving the overall Dow ambition of becoming the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world, as Mr. van der Meer explains: “We want to be a company that is a great, inclusive place to work for our employees. Employees need to be able to be their full selves when working at Dow.”

With regards to sustainability, the Seneffe plant is at the forefront of the group’s activities in the Benelux to reduce its environmental footprint. “We have two windmills that cover 35% of our annual power consumption,” states Mr. van der Meer. “In addition, we have our own rooftop photovoltaic panels, a cogeneration unit that produces 50% of the required building heating, and a heatpump system that heats our SEED building on site. At the same time, our products are used to save energy and reduce emissions. A study from the Global Silicones Council has been looking at the greenhouse gas emissions linked to the entire life cycle of silicone, siloxane and silane products in Europe, North America and Japan. For every ton of CO2 emitted in manufacturing our products, 9 t can be saved thanks to the application of our products.”

Dow’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental protection is also visible in its dedication to meeting the sustainability needs of its customers and employees.

Recently in the Seneffe location, a new inspirationstudio has been opened. This investment is in line with the Dow strategic elements of customer centricity and innovation. The location in Seneffe now has the unique possibility to facilitate a co-creation cycle. The new inspirationstudio can showcase Dow’s innovation capabilities and ‘seek together’ with its customers to co-create new innovative solutions that bring value to both Dow and its customers.

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