24 Jul 2024


Siemens UK VSD plant will be carbon-neutral 8 years early

Siemens’ Congleton site has no room to expand, resulting on one of the company’s highest productivity rates per square metre

Siemens’ variable-speed drives factory in Cheshire, UK, is on track to achieve carbon neutrality this year – eight years ahead of its original target. The Congleton site, which manufactures more than 1.2m controls and drives every year, has achieved this goal by deploying a range of sustainable technologies for energy generation and demand, including generating 75kW of renewable energy from a hydro-electric plant on the nearby river Dane, and using carbon-neutral biogas to power an on-site gas engine. These measures alone are saving the company £250,000 a year and have taken the 80% power-independent factory off the grid.

A building management system adjusts itself automatically to improve the site’s energy efficiency, while modern windows and LED lighting have cut the energy bill by 13% and 30% respectively. The 50-year-old plant, which sends no waste to landfill to zero, is eight years ahead of Siemens’ original 2015 commitment to ensure its operations are carbon-neutral by 2030.

In 2018, the factory became fully digital by embracing lean manufacturing methods to achieve continuous improvement and by adopting Industry 4.0 processes. It now uses advanced manufacturing methods including virtual reality, digital twins, the IIoT, robots, cloud technology and additive manufacturing to produce up to 50,000 variants to meet the changing demands of its customers and markets.

In 1990, the Congleton site employed 400 people, making 50,000 VSDs and controls a year. Today, a similar number of workers produce 1.2 million devices, including 600,000 VSDs. This has been achieved within the same physical footprint. Because the factory is surrounded by industrial and housing estates, there is no room to expand, resulting in Congleton having one of the highest productivity rates per square metre of any Siemens’ site.

Siemens has committed to ensuring all of its global operations are carbon-neutral by 2030 and for all of its production facilities and buildings to achieve net zero-carbon footprints by 2030.

“Siemens believes that sustainability is a force for good and can deliver value for all its stakeholders,” explains Andrew Peters, managing director of Siemens Digital Industries Congleton. “We want to help customers achieve sustainable growth and to transform their industries through decarbonisation. The first step of that is for us to achieve these ambitions in our own operations.

“Our Congleton factory is paving the way for sustainability, whilst setting a great example on how manufacturers can join this amazing journey to net-zero,” adds Olivia Whitlam, Siemens’ head of sustainability for the UK and Ireland. “We have 8,600 people spread across offices and 11 manufacturing sites across the UK and we are creating innovation up and down the country with sustainability at the core of our operations and services.”

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