25 Jul 2024


€50m centre will include flexible motor production plant

Schaeffler’s €50m centre of excellence will help it to scale up its e-mobility business to satisfy soaring demand

Schaeffler is investing €50m in a new centre of excellence for electrified mobility at its Automotive Technologies headquarters in Bühl, Germany. The new complex will consist of two buildings connected by a bridge. It will cover a floor area of 15,000m2, providing space for around 400 employees to work collaboratively on customer projects and develop new systems for electric powertrains.

The new centre is an expansion of Schaeffler’s existing electromobility development and manufacturing campus in Bühl, where it is already building an ultra-modern plant for electric motors known as the UltraELab. This global flagship plant is being built in accordance with the principles of the “ultra-efficient factory” developed by Schaeffler and others, in partnership with the federal state of Baden-Württemberg.

“As well as raising the bar for efficiency and productivity, our aim with the UltraELab is to make a real contribution to greater sustainability,” explains Dr Jochen Schröder, head of Schaeffler’s E-Mobility business. This will be achieved primarily through the agile and flexible production of electric motors.

Instead of using fixed production lines, motors will be manufactured using flexible digitalised technology modules that can be re-arranged and re-scaled as required. Thanks to standardised interfaces and advanced IT integration, the modules will be much simpler and quicker to set up and configure than conventional systems.

This manufacturing concept is being developed under a €33.7m collaborative project called AgiloDrive2 led by Schaeffler with 17 partners including Kuka, Schunk and Siemens. Funding is coming from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. “Our goal is to achieve flexible and efficient production of innovative electric motors,” says Schröder.

A pilot plant for testing the agile production concepts already exists at the site. Paired with a digital twin, it will serve as a blueprint for the planned industrial-scale manufacturing facility. “By closely integrating electric motor development and production at a single location, we are leveraging key synergies for continuous product improvement,” Schröder says.

The new campus, occupying a land area of 8,000m2, is due to be completed by the autumn of 2024 and will allow Schaeffler to scale up its electromobility business. Last year, the company achieved electrified powertrain sales worth more than €1bn and secured new electromobility projects worldwide worth €3.2bn. In the first half of 2022, it picked up a further €3.2bn of new orders, reaching its full-year target for 2022 in the first six months.

“Going forward, Schaeffler is eager to acquire more and more projects involving integrated mechanical, electronic and software systems,” says Schröder. “To optimally manage these complexities, we are building strong project teams and a future-oriented work environment.

The new facility will include workspaces for interdisciplinary teams, as well as laboratory and workshop areas and a conference centre. The complex will generate most of its electricity from rooftop and facade solar installations, while sustainable cooling and heating will come from heat pumps.

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