Quality and innovation

Quality and innovation as a guiding principle

Article written on 27 April 2021

Conversation with Isabelle Lemarié, Quality and Innovation Director

In the six factories, as well as in the commercial and administrative departments, all the Saipol teams work to satisfy, develop customer loyalty and create added value for their customers. Isabelle Lemarié’s duties as Saipol’s Quality and Innovation Director require her and her teams to secure activities in order to ensure sustainable profitability, to manage innovation projects and support their arbitrage, and to guide the company towards operational excellence.

La qualité et l’innovation comme fil conducteur

Receiving the customers’ opinions on the quality of products and services gives a good indication of the company’s progress. So when the latest survey carried out in 2020 by Saipol’s quality department shows a satisfaction rate of over 90%, the quality team headed by Isabelle Lemarié can measure all progress made. Even though customers have only been asked to share their appreciation since 2017, this desire to do better began in 2008. The company was then hit hard by the Ukrainian sunflower oil crisis, as were other European players. As she joined the company in this period, Isabelle Lemarié remembers her first assignment: “Securing the import of seeds and oil to prevent this from happening again”. The scope of action then rapidly expanded.

Quality, an effective management lever

As a result, by 2021, quality managers are working in all factories. The department also supports the administrative and commercial teams, because the quality challenge at Saipol is to establish itself as a support and back-up for the business in the broadest sense while guaranteeing the right to operate. Isabelle Lemarié describes her field of activities and that of her colleagues according to four objectives: to constantly obtain production that complies with customer specifications and regulatory requirements, to guarantee food safety, to control suppliers as well as external service providers and finally, to avoid potential crises by anticipating and managing risks. All of this is controlled by an integrated management system (AIMS) which, in addition to managing these four themes, aims to unite the company’s activities around an optimised organisation and processes that are committed to continuous improvement.

In fact, the quality teams work hand in hand with all business lines: trading, commerce, production, supply chain, etc. And this extends outside the sole scope of Saipol: interfaces between the subsidiaries of the Avril group encourage sharing and harmonisation of practices, management of joint projects and pooling of resources on subjects deemed to be priorities.

Innovation is led methodically

Quality and innovation at Saipol are driven by the same philosophy. Innovation was structured five years ago with the aim of methodically stimulating creativity but also of making the selected projects a reality or redirecting them: “Some are launched, others are discarded because they are not profitable or technically feasible”, she explains. “On average, two to five projects are launched each year”. To bring them to fruition, she relies on project managers trained in project management and on a monthly steering committee – the Saipol Innov Committee – in which Saipol’s General Management and CODIR are particularly involved.

The sustainable development impact of these innovations is also a key criterion for Saipol, in line with Avril Group’s strategy. Moreover, proper implementation of the objectives of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) approach led by the group is also supported by a member of the team.

The latest operational innovations concern the production of sunflower cake richer in protein at the Lezoux site in the Puy de Dôme region, more recently, the production of rapeseed lecithin, the first tonnes of which were produced at the beginning of December 2020 at the Mériot factory in the Aube region, and lastly, the marketing of OleoVE pre-treated oils for the energy sector. Through the innovation carried out by the Avril Group, Saipol is also participating in the emergence of plant-based solutions: this is notably the case with resins produced from sunflower cake by Evertree for the production of wood particle board, without formaldehyde. In Saipol’s innovation funnel, the teams are working on more than twenty projects, some of which are expected in 2021.

isabelle lemarie

“Quality and innovation at Saipol support the business and accompany the development of solutions that meet society’s expectations”.

Isabelle Lemarié, Quality and Innovation Director

To find out more about the interview with Isabelle Lemarié, read her speech

on the supply of meal for the production of biosourced resins: