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Elkem around the world: Santa Perpetua, Spain

Maria Jose Rubio Rodado joined Elkem in 2013. She had previously been working in the pharmaceutical industry in Madrid. Today, she is Elkem’s plant manager in Santa Perpetua our downstream manufacturing site north of Barcelona.

Elkem around the world 11.04.2023

When asked about her favorite part of the role as plant manager, Rubio mentions three things as very important to her: The people working at the plant, the business needs, and the optimization of the resources. Rubios´s top priority as a plant manager is the people. “We are here to take care of our people, our environment, and of course our customers”, she says. She underlines that supplying products of high quality in a safe environment with high efficiency is crucial. “I really believe that people are the main assets for all companies, and in my case the Santa Perpetua plant”, she adds.

At the Santa Perpetua plant the most challenging part of the role as plant manager is managing the utilization of assets in conjunction with meeting the customers’ expectations and taking care of the local community’s interest. Rubio is aware of the influence they have on the local community and the responsibility that comes with looking after the plant’s 80 employees and their families, the plant’s neighbors, and the environment around the plant. She truly believes that their main purpose is to serve the community. Further, she highlights the importance of physically being there for employees and to maintain a good atmosphere and work environment.

3rd from the left: Maria Jose Rubio Rodado

Downstream manufacturing site in Europe

The Santa Perpetua Silicones plant is located 16 km north of Barcelona. The first facility was started in 1968 on a platform with more than 80 years of history. Today, the plant consists of 80 employees covering functions like EHS, EBS, Production, Quality, Supply Chain, Maintenance, Technical Assistance, Engineering, and Sales. Santa Perpetua is one of the downstream manufacturing sites in Europe providing expertise in highly developed specialties like Elastomers, Cosmetics, and Lyndcoat for tire release. As a signatory to the Responsible Care Global Charter the plant actively strengthens the Responsible Care initiative committed to several environmental initiatives such as safeguarding people and the environment, strengthening chemical management systems, and engaging stakeholders.

For the Santa Perpetua plant, the main challenge is to follow and adapt to the evolving markets. In a continuously changing industry accelerating through fast moving regulations, they try to stay ahead of the changes. When asked to describe the plant, Maria says that the installations reflect the employees. A combination of senior- and freshly graduated employees gives a great balance of experience and “new eyes”. With two city halls to consider, Rubio describes the interaction with the local community as a regulated interaction. In recent years, they have been adding new equipment and increasing the capacity of the plant, a process that requires them to keep in close contact with their city halls. They also have regular meeting exchanges with other companies close to the plant to tackle local issues together, such as fixing local roads in the industry area.

Safety and respect for the environment

Maria proudly states that they haven’t had any issues with the local community, the environment they operate in, nor people’s health or safety. She is very cautious about this and expects to maintain the current levels of safe operations.  

Moreover, they always look for ways to reduce the plants environmental impact and further develop good sustainability standards. One specific measure they have taken is the installation of equipment to collect volatiles, recycle, and reuse. Other environmentally related measures they have completed to reduce energy consumption is changing to an LED lighting system in the plant and upgrading their boilers. They are also investing in waste management to ensure toxic waste is contained inside of the factory ensuring that any potential accidents would have limited impact on their surroundings. In the near-future, they will also install solar plates to reduce the plants impact and CO₂ footprint.

Elkem in Santa Perpetua is an attractive employer. Thanks to their employees building a great reputation, there is a high engagement around the plant and people from the local community view the plant as a desirable workplace. She hopes that the satisfaction of today’s employees will transpire into showing the younger generation that chemistry is a good industry to work in with the message that their main priority is safety and respect for the environment.

Impacting the community in positive ways

To keep her employees motivated to work at Elkem, Maria thinks it´s key to make sure that the employees know and see that the work they are doing is impacting the community in positive ways. She wants them to be proud of their work and their accomplishments.

Maria Jose Rubio Rodado´s vision for the plant is to be the top performer within their business segment. This means sticking to their fundamentals while serving the community and being a reliable partner for their customers with a positive impact on their surroundings. The ambition is to be a leader within the industry while reducing their environmental impact and working efficiently to deliver value to their stakeholders.

The Santa Perpetua plant