Material and resource management

The Schaeffler Group is sparing with resources. It has set quantitative savings targets for waste, supplies, and wastewater that will be achieved by 2020. These targets, for instance, include “wastewater-free operation” or “endless oil”, a method that eliminates the need to replace oil used in production. By increasing recycling rates, Schaeffler also wants to make the vision of the “zero waste to landfill factory” or “waste-free factory” a reality.

Waste-free factory successfully piloted

Schaeffler Brazil has already achieved this in its own project. Before its launch in March 2018, 62 tons of waste had to be disposed of in a landfill as residual waste every month. An interdisciplinary team explored possible alternatives, introduced a separate waste treatment system, and instructed employees on how to use it. The location was able to reduce the amount of residual waste to zero by February 2019.

In the medium term, the goal is for a location in each region to meet the requirements of a “zero waste to landfill factory” with regard to production-related waste. Schaeffler introduced necessary tools in 2018, including a global waste database that allows standardized comparison of all waste worldwide. In Germany, the company has been using a uniform database to approve, implement and bill all waste processes for four years. During the reporting period, the database was prepared for worldwide deployment. The adapted database has been in trial operation since September 2018. Effective January 1, 2019, all Schaeffler Group manufacturing sites worldwide are required to use this database to document all waste operations.

Closed loop recycling

Schaeffler wants to increase the use of recycled raw materials such as steel and aluminum. If possible, production waste is recycled or disposed of professionally, taking high quality standards into account. In this context, the company relies on the principle of recycling economy when dealing with all materials used. The goal is to avoid waste and conserve scarce raw material reserves worldwide. To contribute to closed loop recycling, Schaeffler designs its products in such a way that they can generally be recycled.

Partners of the Schaeffler Group have developed a process to completely recycle carbides in which metallic waste products can be separated into their physical elements. The advantage is that the material can be used afterward while maintaining the same high level of quality.

Repair, processing, and testing with virtual components

Repairing and processing used components can save valuable resources and reduce costs. Schaeffler offers its customers tailor-made products and services for this purpose. These include, for example, used components in original part quality and a digital system for predictive maintenance of technical equipment.

Schaeffler also contributes to material efficiency through the use of simulation technology and virtual engineering. Many test series for product adjustments are now being carried out virtually by the company. This saves material because test series with actual components are no longer needed.

Schaeffler also expects to save materials and conserve resources through additive manufacturing (AM). Also known as 3D printing, the manufacturing process includes many technologies that simplify manufacturing processes. AM speeds up the design of manufacturing processes and is particularly suitable for the flexible production of small batches. It avoids the usual waste from traditional processes like machining.

You can find more about this in the magazine under How we use less through 3D printing.

Saving water in production

Schaeffler strives to further reduce water consumption at all locations worldwide year after year. However, water consumption increased during the reporting period due to the company’s growth. As part of the reorganization, the company-wide reduction target for water has also been revised since the beginning of 2019 in order to be able to manage processes even more effectively in the future. The design of the production facilities plays an important role in reducing water consumption. In planning new plants with a high need for water, for example, the developers generally anticipate the construction of reprocessing facilities. Existing plants are being upgraded in accordance with technical and economic assessments. For example, the electroplating (electrochemical surface coating) production area requires large quantities of water. In order to reduce water consumption in this area, the used rinse water is processed by means of ion exchangers and returned to the operating process.

Water consumption, waste, and recycling rate









Water consumption includes municipal and internal company water. 2017 value corrected based on subsequently reported data.


Recycled or recovered amount of total waste, excluding metals and scrap.

Water consumption in m3 1)







Recycling rate, Germany in %2)







Waste generation, Germany, in t







“Factory for Tomorrow”


“Sustainable Factory” subprojects were launched as part of the “Factory for Tomorrow” initiative within the program for the future “Agenda 4 plus One”.

Schaeffler takes a holistic approach to further improve the of its production sites. With this in mind, the “Sustainable Factory” was defined as additional area of focus in August 2018 as part of the “Agenda 4 plus One” future-oriented program for the “Factory for Tomorrow” (F4T) initiative. This includes 21 subprojects on the topics of energy generation and consumption reduction, resource efficiency, production systems, employee mobility, and material transportation. Auditing and certification systems were also included. In a first phase, the project team looked at existing activities in the manufacturing sector from energy supply and use to maintenance and tool changes to material and passenger transportation. The goal is to be able to network and monitor relevant machines in a single system. In addition, uniform standards for the interface to the hall infrastructure are to be developed, both for internally and externally produced machines. Schaeffler has set a concrete goal for itself to realize the autonomous, digital, and sustainable factory by 2021 at a production site as part of a pilot project.

At individual locations, solutions for the sustainable “Production of the Future” are taking shape more and more. For example, a pilot project for holistic energy management was started at the Austrian plant in Berndorf. The project managers from central energy management teamed up with the site manager in 2018 to develop a concept for a condition monitoring system to digitally monitor the condition of the machines involved at the plant level and to control the media (for example, the coolant supply) as required.

They also defined KPIs for energy consumption, vibration values, and other metrics. The employees concerned will be trained to operate the new technology. The intermediate results include monitoring (for example, kWh per part produced), visualizations, and solutions for a needs-based media supply. The KPIs will be used directly to control the processes in the production area. The current and future results in the areas of energy management, predictive maintenance, and data analystics will also be used to make the condition monitoring system usable for greenfield and brownfield projects (new factory builds and renovations).

You can find more information on the “Sustainable Factory” with regard to energy management in the magazine under How we achieve a carbon-neutral energy supply.

Sustainability means utilizing natural resources in a way that observes the particular economic, environmental and social conditions without neglecting the interests of future generations.
Sustainability means utilizing natural resources in a way that observes the particular economic, environmental and social conditions without neglecting the interests of future generations.
Key Performance Indicator; performance indicator with which the progress or degree of fulfilling important goals is measured.