Holistic environmental protection in vehicle production
With pollutants now largely eliminated from the exhaust and all vehicles recyclable, when it comes to environmental protection, the automotive industry concentrates not only on its vehicles’ efficiency and their CO2 output. In automobile production, too, the German manufacturers and suppliers are pursuing the ambitious goal of reducing emissions and waste, and using natural resources sparingly. The firms thus meet the highest standards of environmental protection in production and are also international pioneers in this field.
Over the last two decades they have brought down the consumption of drinking water per vehicle built by more than 60 per cent. And wastewater-free production is no longer just a vision. Emissions of paint solvents have fallen by 65 per cent during the past two decades. Our solvent emissions per square metre of painted surface are the lowest anywhere in the world. Another factor in conserving resources is the fact that today more than 80 per cent of production waste is reused.
The German automotive industry – manufacturers and suppliers alike – is continually optimising its production procedures. It is constantly researching sustainable methods in the infrastructure and logistics, and all the way to assembly. Sparing use of resources and a responsible approach to the environment inform the companies’ conduct at all their facilities. Even during the planning of new plants, environmental protection already plays a key role in the overall concept.
Here are a couple of practical examples: drinking water is saved by closing water cycles, solvent emissions are reduced by using low-solvent painting processes, production waste is brought down by high recovery rates, and packaging waste is avoided through standardised reusable packaging.
Despite the complexity of the value-added chain, the processes involved are highly efficient. The supply chain is managed so that it operates not only “just in time”, but also “just in sequence”. This means that the parts required arrive on the manufacturer’s premises at precisely the right time and are supplied directly to the production line in the correct order. This saves time and resources.
At the end of a car’s lifecycle the materials in it are recovered. The companies re-use over 95 per cent. Virtually no other commodity can match this very high percentage. The system comes full circle because this is the result of forward planning at the development phase – by designing a product that is optimised for recycling.