BMW South Africa has made dramatic strides towards sustainable production and achieved R50 million in energy savings since 2006.
Frank-Peter Arndt, the member of the BMW board of management responsible for production, said BMW SA’s plant in Rosslyn had reduced resource use considerably in the past five years. For every car made, it used 25 percent less energy and 50 percent less water, and produced 25 percent less carbon emissions and 50 percent less waste.
Combined with the energy reductions made at the BMW Group’s South African head office in Midrand, this amounted to more than R50m in energy savings since 2006.
“These are outstanding achievements,” Arndt said this week at a function at BMW SA’s Rosslyn plant to mark the start of production of the new BMW 3-Series following a group investment of R2.2 billion to further upgrade the facility.
For the new 3-Series models, BMW has implemented production processes that dramatically reduce the generation of non-recyclable waste, solid waste, waste water and emissions. The processes also reduce noise and vibration to a minimum.
However, Arndt said BMW was not resting on its laurels and continued to work on innovative solutions to help realise its vision to run every BMW facility purely on renewable energy. Arndt said the first step in Rosslyn was under way and together with the City of Tshwane it planned to use energy from a methane source from a nearby landfill site.
He said this project was similar to a landfill gas project that provided half of the energy used at its Spartanburg plant in the US.
The project involves piping methane gas, converted from unusable waste at a landfill site in Onderstepoort to the north of Pretoria, about 8km to the BMW SA plant.
Depending on the quantity supplied, the gas will be used to either produce electricity via gas generators or supplement the usage of natural gas in the production process, a resource that contributes about 50 percent of the company’s energy consumption.
Initial indications are that there is sufficient green waste at the Onderstepoort site to cater for about 40 percent of the plant’s requirements.
Ebrahim Patel, the Economic Development Minister, said the automotive sector was a significant contributor to greenhouse gases and, to remain internationally competitive, it would have to creatively consider measures to reduce its impact on the environment.
Patel said these measures needed to focus on reducing energy consumption in the manufacturing process; complying with internationally accepted standards in green manufacturing; recycling end-of-life vehicles; embracing technologies that will decrease carbon dioxide emissions from cars; developing electric, hydropower and hybrid engines; reducing vehicle weight without compromising safety; and improving energy efficiency in internal combustion engines.
Patel said it was pleasing to note that BMW, in developing the new 3-Series models, had succeeded in implementing production processes that dramatically reduced its impact on the environment.
Patel said these processes would not only result in an environmental but financial benefit in the form of reduced energy costs.
Author: Roy Cokayne
Date: 22 February 2012