Climate change and its effects are currently a widely discussed topic. Various interest groups, including customers, employees, investors, political decision-makers and other stakeholders, are becoming increasingly aware of the issue. As a result, it is crucial for companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector to make a credible contribution through effective climate management and to reduce their own carbon footprint in the long term. With climate-neutral production, the industry has such an approach to promote a sustainable future for people and the environment.
On 22 November 2023, ProduktionNRW organized an exchange of experiences for the North Rhine-Westphalian mechanical and plant engineering industry at igus GmbH in Cologne. The aim was to discuss the implementation options for climate-neutral production. After all, companies have various starting points for intensifying and deepening their efforts in this area.
Climate-neutral production in industry
Anna Feldman, project manager for climate-neutral production at the VDMA, began by emphasizing that the EU in particular is introducing a new industrial policy with the New Green Deal in order to achieve climate and environmental goals. A VDMA survey was also used to illustrate the extent to which climate protection has already been implemented in member companies compared to 2019. For example, the number of companies that have set themselves climate targets has tripled. On the other hand, many companies have not yet defined a clear decarbonization path for themselves.
When companies address the issue of climate neutrality, a key aspect is balancing their own greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, emissions must be calculated according to Scopes 1, 2 and 3. In mechanical and plant engineering, however, Scope 3 emissions in the upstream and downstream areas make up the majority and are difficult to determine.
Practical report – Sustainability in production
Dennis Berninger, Head of the Plain Bearings & Linear Technology factory, and Felix Hülder, Lean Engineer Green Production, presented igus’ approach to sustainability. According to this approach, sustainability is the ability to satisfy the needs of the present without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs.
A balanced relationship between ecological, economic and social aspects is important here:
- In the ecological area, steps are being taken to reduce the CO2 footprint, for example by using energy efficiently or reducing gas consumption. For example, the company uses a concept developed in-house to replace gas heating. This MHRS concept (Machine Heat Recovery System) uses waste heat from machines and can also be used by other industrial companies. igus® GmbH has also developed a roadmap for climate neutrality and is aiming for climate neutrality in buildings and factories by 2025 – complete climate neutrality is to be achieved in all scopes by 2030.
- In the economic area, the company is modernizing its machinery and drying systems and recycling granulate. With the “chainge” recycling platform founded in spring 2022, the company is providing a digital marketplace for companies that is also intended to transform industrial plastics into a circular economy.
- Various social measures are being taken at igus, including sports programs for employees, free employee meals and joint employee events.
For the future implementation of climate neutrality, the calculation of Scope 3 emissions in particular will play a role and be challenging in the coming years. In particular, the complexity and the associated time required will increase the calculation.
Discussion and exchange of experience
Various aspects were highlighted during the interim discussions, including the challenges associated with Scope 3 and the risk of double calculation.
In order to obtain accurate figures in this area, the risk of including emissions via Scope 3 that may also be captured by actors in the value chain was discussed. The entire calculation model could be called into question due to possible double counting (even though the emissions only occur once). The option of external consulting was considered as a potential solution.
At the same time, it was critically questioned how to deal in future with companies that make no or only minimal progress towards climate neutrality, as successful measures have already been implemented
Factory tour on climate-neutral production
To conclude, Tobias Vogel, Managing Director for Bearings & Linear Technology at igus, led the participants on an exclusive tour of the company’s own production facilities. Among other things, the focus was on the implementation of climate-neutral production with new machines and the new heating system.
– VDMA practical guide “Climate-neutral production – recommendations for action in mechanical and plant engineering”
– VDMA assessment tool for companies’ climate expertise: New maturity model
– PCF starter for time- and cost-efficient calculation of the product carbon footprint
The event was organized by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the cluster for mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is organized by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks with each other and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.