Innovative mobility and industrial solutions
- Relevant departments and technology specialists work closely together in the product development process
- The Schaeffler Group has intensified its partnerships and product development associated with hydrogen technology
Research and development
Bestandteil des GNFK StartAs an integrated automotive and industrial supplier, the Schaeffler Group develops product solutions in five focus areas: CO2-efficient drives, chassis applications, industrial machinery and equipment, renewable energy, and aftermarket solutions and services. To this end, the company employs 7,093 (prior year: 7,095) people1) in research and development (R&D) at 20 R&D centers and other R&D sites. In 2021, the company submitted 1,784 (prior year: 1,9072)) patent applications3) to the German Patent and Trademark Office.
With our high level of research and development expertise, we are laying the foundation for sustainable and future-proof innovations in all of our product areas.Uwe WagnerChief Technology Officer
The Schaeffler Group’s product research and development topics are anchored in six innovation clusters with a focus on market-relevant unique selling points: hydrogen and energy transition, electric and autonomous mobility, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT), bearing technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), and material and surface sciences. Within the clusters, all of the departments and technology functions relevant for the product development process work together at a cross-organizational project house. The Chief Technology Officer is incorporated into the cluster projects through routine steering committee meetings.Bestandteil des GNFK Ende
Hydrogen and energy transition
The energy transition is one of the Schaeffler Group’s strategic focus areas. The Group promotes the transition in a variety of ways, including developing technologies for the generation of renewable energies, for the production of green hydrogen on the basis of electrolysis, and for fuel cell applications.
Electric and automated mobility
The electric and autonomous mobility innovation cluster monitors developments for a sustainable transition throughout the entire mobility system and across all modes of transport, from micromobility, cars, and trucks to trains and airplanes. Key areas of development include solutions for electric drives, the steer-by-wire technology for autonomous driving, and low-friction bearings for the fields of aerospace and rail transport.
The company is also committed to promoting carbon-neutral mobility, relying in large part on a combination of different drives. The Schaeffler Group therefore created the “Schaeffler Vision Powertrain” scenario as a probable development that forms the basis of the strategic thinking employed in the Automotive Technologies division. The scenario predicts that, in the year 2035, around 35 % of vehicles worldwide will feature a hybrid drive, meaning a combination of electric motor and internal combustion engine, and around 50 % an all-electric drive.
Robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT)
For the rapidly expanding robotics and IoT sectors, the Schaeffler Group offers sustainable product developments such as highly efficient drive solutions in robotics as well as intelligent digital monitoring systems that also support tailored maintenance of production facilities.
One of the key aims of Schaeffler bearing technologies is to reduce friction, which makes a valuable contribution to an efficient energy transition in all of the areas in which Schaeffler bearing technology is used.
Material and surface sciences
In material and surface sciences, solutions are developed to reduce the carbon footprint of Schaeffler products and to promote the efficient use of materials and energy in production, including alternative materials for products and lightweight construction.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
In the artificial intelligence innovation cluster, the Schaeffler Group links its activities to product-related AI applications in order to offer industrial and automotive customers more efficient solutions derived from AI methods as well as increase production efficiency through data-based algorithms.
Bestandteil des GNFK StartTo reinforce sustainability aspects in product development with a focus on circular economy, the company began revising the company-wide Energy, Environment, Health and Safety (EnEHS) management manual. The new content will draw attention to topics such as which products have the most influence on the company’s carbon footprint and which production phase or which part of a product determines this influence. These questions also represent a starting point for circular economy. In addition to using renewable energy sources and prioritizing systems thinking, the ideal circular economy features closed loops, so that raw materials, components, and products lose as little value as possible. The central questions should therefore also encourage the development of potentials in various areas, including material efficiency, reduced use of critical and rare raw materials, energy efficiency in construction, repairability, and recyclability. The Schaeffler Group also analyzes life cycles to support this approach.Bestandteil des GNFK Ende
More information on life cycle analyses
Hydrogen of the future
Bestandteil des GNFK StartRenewable energy is a core element of global climate protection and is changing the entire energy and mobility sector, particularly in the areas of steel and chemistry. Yet while electricity from wind, sunlight, and hydropower is becoming increasingly affordable, availability fluctuates and is unequally distributed. As a result, a drastic increase in generation capacities worldwide will have to be accompanied by new energy sources and transport and distribution concepts.
The Schaeffler Group views hydrogen as a promising, universal energy carrier that can be stored and transported. As an emission-free energy carrier, green hydrogen can be used across all industries and bring different industry sectors together – e.g., as an electricity-based industrial raw material for the steel and chemical industry, for a stationary power supply, and for electric mobility in commercial transport.
The cross-divisional approach is aimed at developing technological solutions that enable both the production and use of hydrogen. Hydrogen should also be an important component in internal processes for achieving the goal of climate neutrality.
The Industrial division supplies key components for electrolyzers, which are the underlying technology in the production of green hydrogen. In the Automotive Technologies division, the company continues to develop bipolar plate components for fuel cells used to convert hydrogen gas directly into power. The idea is to significantly expand the associated test and production systems across all technologies.
The company is actively involved in the emerging networks within the new hydrogen economy worldwide. The Schaeffler Group has been a steering member of the global CEO-led Hydrogen Council since 2020. With more than 130 leading companies in just about every industrial segment, this international initiative is dedicated to establishing hydrogen technology on a global basis. The Schaeffler Group is a member of the German National Hydrogen Council (NWR) on a national level as well as an active member of Hydrogen Europe.
The Schaeffler Group has also been involved in the government-funded H2 Giga program since 2021. As the consortium lead with industry and research partners, the company will further develop the future technology of electrolysis stacks, including the corresponding production processes, and promote industrialization through its activity in the Stack Industrialization Electrolysis (StacIE) subproject.
With the aim of using its core areas of expertise in the fields of material, metalworking, and surface technology and in the innovative field of electrochemistry specifically to develop hydrogen technology, the Schaeffler Group is bundling its knowledge at a hydrogen competence center at the Herzogenaurach location. The Schaeffler Hydrogen Council, which discusses the program’s progress on a quarterly basis, oversees all of the activities. The Schaeffler Hydrogen Council is a steering committee that generally meets on a quarterly basis and is responsible for reporting on and discussing the Schaeffler Group’s hydrogen activities. The council is made up of leading specialists and members of the Schaeffler AG Executive Board.Bestandteil des GNFK Ende
1) Workforce values are provided as full-time equivalents (FTE); reporting date of December 31, 2021. The 2020 value has been adjusted.
2) The DPMA adapted the counting method in 2020, which is why the 2020 figure differs from that of the Sustainability Report 2020.
3) The patent applications are first filings in Germany.