Interviews, Lean & Opex, Smart Engineering

Voith: Identifying Energy and Resource Saving Potentials


Dr. Tim Dreessen
Eco Technology Manager, Voith GmbH


Dr. Tim Dreessen
Eco Technology Manager, Voith GmbH

Dr. Tim Dreessen from Voith GmbH held a case study on resource efficiency at the ener.CON Europe 2017. He showed the audience how to minimize administrative burden and increase added value with one software solution.

From 2005-2011 Dr. Dreessen coordinated environment protection and environmentally compatible product design at Bosch. In 2011 he started as Ecological Business Manager at Voith before taking his current position as Eco Technology Manager in 2013.

we.CONECT: What are the current challenges regarding energy and resource efficient production and what are the specific challenges related to your company?

Dr. Tim Dreessen: At Voith we have run resource efficiency programs since 2008. In our current program which has started in 2012 Voith has already realized annual savings of more than MEUR by reducing resource consumption by more than 73 GWh of energy, 700,000 m³ of freshwater and 3,500 t of waste. Most of this energy efficiency gains have been realized in infrastructure and support areas e.g. compressed air, illumination, HVAC. More potential is hidden in manufacturing processes which is more challenging to identify and realize because the numbers and options of levers are much higher and many more departments are involved. It is challenging to keep an interesting payback investment ratio. At Voith as a manufacturer of small series and make-to-order products we often do not benefit from economy of scales when improving efficiency in product related processes in contrast to high volume production where also small per piece savings multiply.

How is your company going to tackle those challenges?

For one thing we raise the awareness for energy and resource efficiency with different initiatives accompanying daily business. So capacity is built to identify potentials as by-product of other improvement processes e.g. in OpEx, production planning, engineering or purchasing. We also test external contracting solutions to reduce investment needs. It is important to be open-minded for new ideas from inside and outside the organization to get a new angle.

How would you categorize the importance of Resource and Energy Efficiency for suitable growth?

Resource and Energy Efficiency is a main contributor to sustainable growth. Our main principle is to create measurable added value by merging economic principles with ecological aspects. Efficient use of energy and material has always been important key factor to competitiveness as they are a major part of a company’s cost structure. However the investment in efficiency measures has to reflect payback time and return rate.

How does your company manage energy efficiency programs with a high degree of complexity?

For our framing resource efficiency program Voith has setup an efficient green controlling cycle which has also been awarded the Green Controlling Prize by the Péter Horváth Foundation in 2015. It provides transparency on consumption per energy source and site as on actions in development and implementation on a regular basis. In addition all levels of management benefit from pinpoint reports on development and our Ecological Business Management experts can use very detailed options to analyse the data. For divisional and site based programs and actions our experts apply locally established project management procedures.

Where do you see the future of energy management? What factors will be influential?

Much more detailed and connected information is required with further immersion into the production process and with more demanding potentials to realize. Energy management will be totally integrated in an Industry 4.0 environment. The developing IoT will allow for a much more detailed monitoring and data evaluation. Big Data analysis will allow better prediction of maintenance needs and of optimized equipment operations in regard to cost and energy consumption. The required technology especially for retrofitting of existing machinery has to become significantly cheaper, highly automated and self-organized to reduce the cost of transformation.

What measures do you take to reduce your company’s carbon footprint?

The kilowatt-hour not spent has the lowest carbon footprint. So our main focus is on improving energy efficiency. In addition Voith has installed several CHP plants in the last years where thermal and electrical energy consumption had a suitable relation. Voith also used possibilities to switch from diesel to natural gas or geothermal to supply thermal energy.

How important is the usage of block chain technology in your company? And what are your ambitions for the future usage of it?

As part of our digital agenda we announced the formation of Voith Digital Solutions, a new Group Division, in December 2015. In future we will concentrate the Group’s entire Industry 4.0 know-how in this division. The new Group Division will focus on developing digital business models for sectors in which Voith is already active as well as for new activities. They will also review new concepts and technology like block chain.

Is increasing automation the answer to energy questions?

As pointed out earlier it will allow for a more efficient energy management especially in regard to analysis and optimized operation of equipment. There are still plenty of questions left for engineering and R&D to answer by other means than automation.

Which blogs, platforms or magazines can you recommend in terms of Energy Efficiency?

The mix of information and tools presented by is still outstanding. But to exchange experience meeting other experts at a conference like ener.con has not been met online yet.

Thank you for your time to participate in the interview!

Interview partners: Ramona Kohrs and Dr. Tim Dreessen

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