Sustainability: towards a zero-impact factory

Since it was founded in 2000, the Porsche Leipzig factory has been one of the world’s most advanced and sustainable automotive manufacturing facilities.

The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) presented its highest award – the Platinum certificate – to Porsche Leipzig in May 2019, recognising it as an exceptionally sustainable industrial site following an assessment on the basis of 167 criteria, in 28 categories. The elements analysed by DGNB included environmental protection, biodiversity and energy lifecycle assessments, how resources are handled, how the site has been set up, its effects on the local urban environment and infrastructure, ecological support during the construction phase, assessments of the lifecycle costs and stability of the facility’s value, as well as associated plans and processes. DGNB awarded a particularly high score in the energy management lifecycle assessment and the site’s ability to change.

“We stand by the climate protection targets agreed in Paris in December 2015 and have a clear responsibility to cut environmentally harmful emissions” Albrecht Reimold

“We stand by the climate protection targets agreed in Paris in December 2015 and have a clear responsibility to cut environmentally harmful emissions. Our aim in terms of sustainability goes far beyond mere decarbonisation, as our long-term vision is that of a zero-impact factory – in other words, a factory that makes no impact on the environment,” explains Albrecht Reimold, Member of the Executive Board for Production and Logistics at Porsche AG.

Production in Leipzig is fully powered by renewable energy sources. This includes energy from photovoltaic plants totalling 4,380 megawatt hours per year, supplying a portion of the energy requirement for the Macan and Panamera bodies. A biomass plant in the direct vicinity of the factory meets the heat requirement of the state-of-the-art paint shop, as part of a process that is 80 per cent CO2-neutral. Since 2015, energy efficiency measures have saved a total of 23.3 gigawatt hours of power.

The paint shop uses a rock-meal filter system as part of a dry separator to collect unavoidable paint overspray. Compared with a water-based system, it reduces energy use by up to 60 per cent. As there are no fluorescent tubes in the paint shop’s Ergo-Lux tunnel, which is used for inspecting the body's surface finish, the energy requirement falls by 50 per cent due to the highly efficient LED lighting used in the area.

“Green Logistics” concept

In line with the “Green Logistics” concept, Porsche powers its rail transport operations with renewable energy, increasingly uses electric logistics vehicles, and has set up energy-efficient shuttle technology at the new, automated small parts warehouse. Compared with conventional small parts warehouses, this facility saves 676 tonnes of CO2 annually.

The Panamera body shop uses new, energy-efficient joining technologies such as flow-drilling screws, which can pierce sheet metal without the need to drill holes. All robotics and production system programming have been implemented with energy efficiency in mind. In particular, this applies to the use of servopneumatic solutions for welding guns: selected components now operate without any compressed air, which helps to reduce energy consumption. Each year, power consumption in the Macan body shop is reduced by more than 365,000 kilowatt hours through the use of cutting-edge cooling systems on the robotic welding guns with heat recovery.

Sustainability also relates to employee health. Ergonomics is a key aspect of occupational health, and it aims to optimise work-related strains. The range of issues that need to be addressed depend on the job at hand – load handling is typical in body shop work; while in assembly work, advice is widely sought in relation to finger strength and posture-related ergonomics. Measures include ergonomic assembly seats for working on underbodies and seated work stations to take the strain off the shoulder-neck area and the knee. A number of pilot trials conducted by Porsche Leipzig have also resulted in ergonomic handling devices being developed in-house, including a thumb orthosis for stabilising the thumb when pushing in plugs and clips. The use of exoskeletons is another new feature of vehicle production. This support system, currently in the test phase, is designed to physically assist operators working on elevated assembly lines – in other words those performing overhead work – by reducing the amount of holding work the operator's arms are required to do.

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