Staying on track
One major factor that was instrumental in helping AB InBev meet its goals was the decision to treat sustainability measures on a level playing field with other operational metrics — quality, safety and maintenance — when rolling out its Voyager Plant Optimization, or VPO, system over the past several years.
"By working to make our operations both more efficient and more sustainable, we have returned value to our business and to the communities in which we live and work, while uncovering new ways to achieve our Better World dream," said AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito.
For its 2012 fiscal year, AB InBev recently reported a 7.2 percent increase in revenue, generating about $39.8 billion. Its normalized attributable profit was about $7.2 billion.
Using VPO, managers can track performance in near real time and make adjustments as necessary. The system was designed specifically for AB InBev. It currently tracks more than 700 operating practices. In Canada, for instance, operators are trained to take responsibility for certain key performance metrics and empowered to act on them accordingly.
"Plants have access to these ideas and can use the ones that make sense for them," Share said.
That's an important distinction, because depending on where they are located, parts of the company's operations might approach the same goals differently based on how efficient they were in the first place.
Next page: Reducing water use, one plant at a time