Around 26% of all energy is needed by industry
To stop global warming and the emission of greenhouse gases, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015 turned its attention to industrialized nations and emerging markets. In the second half of the 21st century, the aim is that they should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero. Renewable energies and increased efficiency are the key words. However, environmental protection means more. Sustainability needs to become part of daily practice.
How this can work in reality has been demonstrated by 180 employees of Freudenberg Performance Materials in Parets del Vallés, Spain.
Every day, on the outskirts of Barcelona, many kilometers of industrial nonwovens for the cable, food and clothing industries roll off the production line. The summers are hot and humid, the winters are mild. To guarantee the high quality of the nonwoven material, uniform cooling of machines and buildings has to be ensured throughout the year. This calls for a close interplay between the production machines and the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
“To get closer to our corporate goal of reducing CO2 emissions as far as possible, our engineers from Spain and Germany carried out a detailed survey. Where do we consume how much energy and why? Are there any minor adjustments we can make that we have not yet considered as a way to further reduce our gas and electricity consumption?”
Location Manager Freudenberg Performance Materials SE & Co. KG in Weinheim, Germany, and co-initiator of the project
And indeed, after thorough analysis, the first improvement measures were on the agenda. Parameters on machines were newly adjusted and cables insulated. The production hall is now heated by an energy-efficient infrared system and electric humidifiers have replaced their steam-powered predecessors. Outdated machines for steam generation have been replaced or even completely removed. Leaks in pipes are now a thing of the past as well. In the future, LEDs will provide environmentally friendly lights.
“The international and transnational collaboration worked out very well because this project really was a case of everyone pulling together."
Manager Process Development Staple Fiber, Freudenberg Performance Materials SE & Co. KG, Weinheim, Germany
Around 20% less energy from 2012 to 2015
The astonishing result was that, within just a few years, energy consumption was reduced by around 20 percent. This success was achieved through countless small measures and just a few major initiatives.
“Because the issue of energy is important to us and our environment, we brought all employees onboard at an early stage and tried to inspire them about our concept. We quickly received more ideas and since then our project has not stopped.”
Location Manager, Freudenberg E.S.A. TsT SC, Parets del Vallés, Spain
Even after four years, the topic is still at the top of the agenda. Processes are regularly reviewed and employees are kept up to date with the latest trends in climate protection. And the positive experiences serve as examples of best practice for other locations. Production sites around the world are currently taking a close look at their energy consumption with similar projects and ensuring that emissions can be steadily reduced.
“We have all now developed a good sense of what’s possible and walk around the site with open eyes. We also take some ideas into our private lives, because we can achieve a lot with even with small measures. Each employee can therefore contribute its own personal part to climate protection.”
Head of Engineering, Freudenberg E.S.A. TsT SC, Parets del Vallés, Spain