The Volkswagen Plant in Poznan developed in 1993 from a joint venture between Volkswagen AG and the Polish car manufacturer Tarpan. It has been a one hundred percent subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group since 1996. The Poznan Plant manufactures both components for the Group and vehicles for VW Commercial Vehicles. The 6,900 employees manufacture about 4,500 million intake pipe modules, cylinder heads and steering gear housings plus 155,000 vehicles from the Caddy and Transporter T5 ranges per year. More than 95 percent of the vehicles and 74 percent of the cast components and modules are exported. This means that VW Poznan is already the second largest exporter in Poland.
Competitive Because of Specialisation and Integration of Suppliers
The Volkswagen Plant in Poznan wants to make a permanent improvement in its ability to compete. This is happening firstly via specialisation in new technologies. For example, the employees in Poznan are making special vehicles based on the Caddy and are converting vehicles to natural gas operation. Secondly, Volkswagen wants high quality to be available within the region as a whole at competitive prices. The aim is to integrate local suppliers into the added value chain and to persuade more suppliers to move on site. This not only increases the quality of the products but also ensures flexible “just in time” production at the plant, thus reducing costs. 36 percent of the fabrication material for the Caddy is sourced locally.
Active protection of the environment is a necessity for the production of high quality products at the Volkswagen Plant in Poznan. Volkswagen Poznan is certified in accordance with ISO 14001 and also possesses integrated permits for the paint plant and for selected areas of the foundry. Here, the plant goes beyond the EU requirements and the technical standards achieved via certification. The environmental policy of the factory in Poznan is also aimed at shaping the consciousness of the employees and their appreciation of topics associated with environmental protection. Polish legislation provides for regular training in health and safety. Training in environmental protection is not stipulated in it as yet. VW Poznan has extended its training programme to include protection of the environment. 3747 employees participated in the programme in 2004.
Using the slogan “Spreading our wings”, the second phase of the transformation process at VW Poznan commenced in 2005. Whilst the central focus of the first stage was setting up processes with the aim of developing the Poznan Plant from a CKD-plant to a complete car factory, the main focus in 2005 was the further development of the competence of the employees beyond the skills of their trades. More than 100 employees are co-operating enthusiastically in a wide range of projects, such as, for example “Taking on and Delegating Responsibility” or “Promoting Health at VW Poznan“. The results of the project groups were discussed at a large group event involving about 650 employees and pursued further in the course of seven action weeks on individual projects. During the action weeks, the workforce was informed about the projects and more employees became involved in the projects. The third stage of the transformation process started in Autumn 2005. Using the slogan “Spreading our wings – designing the future” department-based strategies and measures are to be developed which will secure the future capability of the Poznan Plant with regard to ability to compete and jobs.
Think Blue.Factory success story
One option for saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions lies in the heat recovery initiative being deployed at the Poznan plant, where it was discovered that vast quantities of heat were being lost from the cataphoretic paint dryer through the chimney. The plan was to recover this energy and use it to heat the baths on the pre-treatment and cataphoretic painting lines. The idea proved to be feasible, both from a technical and economic perspective; the pay-off period for the investment was even less than a year. The most important element in a heat recovery system is the heat exchanger, which is installed in the chimney pipe. Heat is only recovered during production, or when the cataphoretic paint dryer is switched on. Using the heat exchanger, the waste heat from the cataphoretic paint dryer can be used to pre-heat the water in the boiler room for the pre-heating and cataphoretic painting processes.
By adopting this concept, the time required for work in the boiler room has been almost halved. Thanks to the heat recovery process, the temperature of the exhaust gases in the chimney for the cataphoretic paint dryer has been reduced from 2400 down to almost 1000 degrees Celsius. What's more, the amount of natural gas consumed and CO2 emissions produced by the site have been reduced by almost 5%. Volkswagen Poznan is saving EUR 15,000 each month as a result of having introduced these initiatives.