ZF Lemforder Corporation
ZF Lemförder, the Car Chassis Technology division of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, develops and produces chassis components, rubber-metal and plastic components, chassis systems, and gearshift systems for vehicles of all well-known automobile manufacturers. ZF Lemförder has, worldwide, more than 9,300 employees. The Tuscaloosa, AL facility employs 230 people and assembles axle systems.
The current Tuscaloosa ZF facility, consisting of 150,000 square feet, has a front axle line and a rear axle line, along with warehouse inventory, office space, and shipping and receiving areas. The company was projecting a contract in the next year that would involve adding another front and rear axle line, a paint booth, and potentially more warehouse space. ZF’s desire was to maximize existing space and limit the need for expansion.
ZF Lemforder’s Tuscaloosa location utilized the assistance of the Alabama Technology Network center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH-ATN ) to consult with the company’s maintenance manager and engineers to identify improvement opportunities and evaluate the existing expansion alternatives. The ATN assistance was delivered as part of the Alabama E3 (Economy, Energy, Environment) program.
The UAH-ATN team began by getting an overview of ZF’s potential expansion needs and reviewing various draft alternatives that had been developed by the company. Next, the UAH-ATN team identified shop floor square footage savings within the existing facility. These savings included removing a block of offices and better utilizing other existing office space, along with narrowing the warehouse racks to mirror the layout at the company’s off-site warehouse.
In addition to energy savings from avoided expansion, UAH-ATN researched additional energy saving opportunities. The future expansion included the addition of a paint line featuring an oven system. UAH-ATN consulted with a paint expert to assess the possibility of using an infrared oven, which would require less floorspace, consume less energy, and could be located outside the walls of the facility. Research was also performed to evaluate the use of solar panels (which was deemed to not be economical feasible at this time) or a cool roof system.
The UAH-ATN team identified several opportunities to maximize existing space and save energy relative to the upcoming expansion for ZF Lemforder. Among the opportunities presented were:
- · Energy savings within the existing operation
- o Replace existing 325W Metal Halide light fixtures with equivalent-output 3xT5 fluorescent fixtures (360,000 kWh saved annually; a cost of $0.10/kWh in the area would result in an annual electricity savings of $36,000/yr)
- o Fixing existing air leaks (36,000 kWh saved annually = $3600/yr)
- o Installation of cool roof system ($1.50/sq. ft. installation cost, results in $0.50/sq/ft. in electricity savings annually = $75,000/yr)
- · Square footage savings of 35,500 sq. ft. identified, which would be considered expansion avoidance.
- o Removing block of office space in the plant and relocating to better-utilized existing office space
- o Narrowing warehouse racks and reducing inventory to reduce necessary warehouse footprint
- o Location of paint oven to exterior of the facility
- o Due to quality specifications, the facility is heated and cooled. Typical HVAC cost is $2/sq.ft.
- § $70,000 in annual HVAC cost avoided