23 December 2002 — When the Lucchini Group of Italy embarked on acquisition strategy to become the largest long-steel products company in Europe, it acquired the environmental liabilities of steel plants across Europe.
Lucchini’s acquisition of France’s Ascometal in 1999 was a centerpiece in its growth strategy. However, the company also gained ownership of a number of sites – some originating from the time of Napoleon – that had been the subjects of many environmental investigations. Lucchini needed to quickly digest and organize the data from these studies to ensure compliance with emerging European Union environmental laws and regulations.
Enter Locus and the Internet
Lucchini recognized the benefits of the Internet for managing their burgeoning amounts of environmental data. To meet their need, Lucchini turned to Locus Technologies who was building the first Web-based, enterprise-level environmental information management system (EIM) to server companies such as FMC, Union Pacific Railroad, Philips Semiconductor, Waste Management, and Schlumberger, and its alliance partner, Alstom Power.
Instead of leaving data and reports buried in offices across Europe, Locus’ EIM system and LocusFocus provided Lucchini with a central repository that can be accessed via the Internet any time, from anywhere. “Lucchini cut its environmental costs and standardized its information management processes by deploying LocusFocus,” said Dr. Francesco Caforio, director of Lucchini’s environmental programs in Paris, France. “The system has also provided us with due diligence cost reduction on the M&A front.”
EIM has the capabilities engineers, scientists, and managers require: access to lists of methods and chemicals, a planning module, forms for entering field data, a utility to upload electronic data deliverables (EDDs), and an extensive reporting and plotting module. However, it also has less common components, such as a calendar module for viewing information on sampling events and uploaded EDDs, emailing capabilities, an electronic data verification and validation module, a customizable EDD loader, and a flexible cross-tab report writer.
The system also include eGIS-SVG, a new way to view site maps and data, based on scalable vector graphics, the emerging standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium for viewing graphical information over the Internet.
Communications technologies, such as XML and Web Services, can knit the different parts of fragmented environmental business into a more coherent whole. “The key,” said Mr. Chris French of Honeywell, a company that recently entered into Beta testing of Locus’ EIM system, and itself a leader in applying digitization to all its business processes, “is to standardize, automate and centralize the fragmented array of company-wide and outside consultants information systems, utilizing metrics to quantify the business case. Our six sigma examination shows substantial variability in the quality, efficiency, and cost of current “silo” data management systems. Pilot testing has shown the potential for substantial downstream cost savings by digitizing and standardizing the process through the adoption of systems such as LocusFocus.