Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is responsible for the light commercial vehicles business within the Volkswagen Group on an international scale. The current range of models includes four series and ranges, from the Caddy light city van to the T5 Transporter and Crafter vans, extending all the way through to the new Volkswagen Amarok. Each series is tailored to meet the individual transportation and mobility needs of its customers. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles produces a variety of customised products built to the highest technical standard for dealerships, trade and many private customers.
The brand was established in 1995 and has production facilities in Hanover (D), Poznan (PL) and Pacheco (AR), with its headquarters based at the Hanover site, which employs around 12,500 members of staff. In 2009, some 100,000 vehicles from the T5 series (Transporter, Caravelle, Multivan and California) rolled off the production line in several hundred model variants. Since 1956, around nine million Volkswagen Transporters and other light commercial vehicles have been produced in Hanover.
The series production of the painted body shell for the Porsche Panamera model also commenced at the Hanover site in 2009. Every day a fully automated process loads 100 to 150 bodies onto rail wagons at the state-of-the-art in-house loading facility, from where the bodies transported to the Porsche site in Leipzig where the final assembly takes place.
In addition, the Hanover site also produces various other components for worldwide Group manufacturing (coolers for oil, diesel fuel and water, lightweight cast metal components and pressed parts).
An administrative department led by the Environmental Officer and Environmental Management Officer at the plant controls and coordinates operational environmental protection procedures.
Environmental management system
A certified environmental management system was introduced in 2000 in accordance with the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) to enable the long-term and systematic structuring of environmental protection measures. In 2005, the company was also awarded certification in accordance with the worldwide standard ISO 14001. The environmental management system is audited by independent auditors each year. By virtue of its EMAS and ISO 14001 certifications, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is voluntarily committed to the continual improvement of operational environmental protection. The aim of developing the environmental management system is to systematically monitor the operational processes, evaluate them objectively on a regular basis and improve them, in compliance with the environmental regulations. A number of tools are used to inform, motivate and train all employees in order to prepare them for the audits, which are conducted on a regular basis. The qualified "environmental protection specialists" who work in all areas at the site (80 employees in total) form a network of communicators that involves exchanging experiences among the specialists on a regular basis and being in in-depth contact with the central environmental protection department.
Think global — act local
The fact that operational environmental protection forms part of the corporate culture at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is also demonstrated through participation in local networks. For several years now, the Hanover site has been part of the OKOPROFIT® Club in Hanover — a partnership project between the city and the region of Hanover as well as the businesses based there — which aims to exchange environmental-related experiences and innovations through networking. The OKOPROFIT® Club also aims to contribute towards improving the quality of life in Hanover and making cost savings for the companies.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is also part of the Hanover Climate Alliance 2020, which was initiated in 2007 by the city and the public utility company of Hanover. Together with the other participants from industry, service provider companies and other institutions and organisations, the aim is to reduce the local CO2 emissions by 40% by the year 2020.
Reducing the CO2 emissions
The direct CO2 emissions (e.g. caused by burning natural gas to operate waste air purification systems) at the Hanover site are comparably low in relation to the indirect CO2 emissions produced by generating energy elsewhere. The reduction in energy consumption and the associated indirect CO2 emissions can also a play role in climate protection.
At the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles site in Hanover, specially trained "energy specialists" have been active in all production areas since 2000. These specialists consistently focus on this subject and search for opportunities to make savings.
Inspections are carried out on a continual basis in order to identify and implement any room for improvement. The energy specialists meet regularly to swap their experiences and review existing or planned initiatives to assess whether they can be applied to other areas. This process involves, firstly, simple organisational measures, such as tasking an energy team with ensuring that any unrequired appliances are permanently switched off during the factory shut-down period. Secondly, the specialists review and implement process-related changes that involve associated investment costs.
All the ideas and initiatives are entered into an EDP system to ensure ideas are continually being exchanged and initiatives implemented. All of the participants have access to this system, which enables targets to be tracked and the success rate to be evaluated.
Between 2004 and 2009, the total energy requirement of the Hanover site was cut by 14.4%, which equates to a reduction in CO2 emissions of almost 60,000 tonnes.
The VWN Hanover site has evolved historically and its proximity to the surrounding residential areas means that the impact of production processes (such as odours and noise disruption) on the local community cannot be completely negated; it is possible to reduce any impact though. The "community dialogue" was set up in 1998 with a view to protecting the interests of both the local community and Volkswagen. The idea quickly developed into a forum for constructively sharing opinions and discussing matters in detail. There is particularly in-depth dialogue with the contact group that is appointed from among the participants; this group meets several times a year with Volkswagen representatives to discuss any issues. The contact group representatives pass on the key information to the local community, while at the same time gathering and collating their proposals and concerns. Numerous suggestions, requests and proposals from the local community have already been taken up and implemented by Volkswagen.
These regular meetings between Volkswagen representatives and the local community, including representatives from institutions such as schools, environmental associations and other official bodies, have become something of a tradition and have resulted in a trusting relationship that is beneficial to all parties.
Production-integrated environmental protection — such as inorganic core production in the casting house
As one of the first production facilities in Germany, the Hanover casting house began the mass production of inorganic related cores for highly complex cylinder heads.
In terms of production-integrated environmental protection initiatives, the site in Hanover has been heavily involved in the use of inorganic binding agents in the production process since as far back as 2004. Pyrolysis gases and odours are generated through the traditional organic method during the casting process. The laborious process of extracting and filtering the combustion gases is needed to prevent harming humans and polluting the environment. The use of inorganic binding systems means that emissions and odours are prevented in their entirety. Consequently, laborious waste air purification is not required and odour emissions in the community are prevented.
Furthermore, the new method offers a range of other benefits including the fact that less energy is required while tools are also preserved.
Environmental protection training
Together with Volkswagen Coaching GmbH at the Hanover subsidiary, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has integrated the subject of environmental protection into its training programmes for apprentices. Project work also forms a key element, extending from the creating a waste guide through to constructing a solar heating system. The overall concept by VW Coaching GmbH Hanover to integrate environmental protection into its vocational training programmes has been officially included in the group of German projects for the UN decade "education for sustainable development" by the German UNESCO Commission. The aim of the UN decade "education for sustainable development" for 2005 to 2014, which was agreed at the world summit in 2002 in Johannesburg by the General Assembly of the United Nations, is to play a key role in the implementation of Agenda 21, through training initiatives and instilling the principles of sustainable development into nationwide training systems.
Think Blue.Factory success story.
The systems are automatically switched off during breaks and at weekends, which saves costs and reduces CO2 emissions.
Waste heat generated by weld-smoke extraction systems is recovered. The system automatically switches itself off during break times and at weekends, thereby saving money and reducing CO2 emissions.