Schaeffler is expanding its existing electromobility development and manufacturing campus in Bühl, Germany, by adding a new building complex. The facility will occupy a land area of approximately 8,000 square meters and will serve as a new center of excellence for electrified mobility at Schaeffler’s Automotive Technologies headquarter. The construction project represents an investment of about 50 million euros. “We are significantly scaling up our activities in electromobility and are acquiring major customer projects,” says Matthias Zink, CEO Automotive Technologies at Schaeffler AG. In 2021, Schaeffler posted over EUR 1 billion in sales of electrified powertrain solutions. Furthermore, the supplier to the automotive and industrial sector secured new electromobility projects worldwide valued at EUR 3.2 billion. This was followed by a further EUR 3.2 billion worth of new orders in the first half of 2022, already meeting the full-year target for 2022 in the first six months.
Many of these highly complex customer projects will ultimately be handled at the expanded electromobility campus. “We are creating new, state-of-the-art workspaces for our innovations in electromobility,” Matthias Zink says. The new facility is part of Schaeffler’s Roadmap 2025 strategic program and represents a key milestone in the expansion of the company’s e-mobility capabilities. Construction will get underway in September 2022, with completion scheduled for the fall of 2024. “The construction of the development center is an important signal for Bühl as a business location and especially for the future of its employees,” says Bühl’s mayor Hubert Schnurr. Following the announcement of the global headquarter for the Schaeffler Automotive division in Bühl in 2018, Hubert Schnurr recognizes the construction of the development center as another clear sign from the company that it will not only strengthening the Bühl location, but also position the company for the “mobility of the future”.
The new complex in the Bussmatten industrial park in Bühl, Germany, will consist of two buildings connected by a bridge. It will have a total floor area of 15,000 square meters, providing space for some 400 employees to work collaboratively on customer projects and develop new systems for electric powertrains. “Going forward, Schaeffler is eager to acquire more and more projects involving integrated mechanical, electronic and software systems. To optimally manage these complexities, we are building strong project teams and a future-oriented work environment,” says Dr. Jochen Schröder, the head of Schaeffler’s E-Mobility business division. The facility will feature workspaces for interdisciplinary teams, extensive collaboration and networking zones as well as laboratory and workshop areas. There are also plans for a conference center. The new complex will complement Schaeffler’s three existing buildings at the Bussmatten site, where the company is already developing and manufacturing components and systems for electromobility. Crucially, the connecting bridge will be further enhancing communication and dialog between the different teams based at the site. Bussmatten is where Schaeffler’s E-Mobility business division is headquartered.
Environmental aspects and sustainability will play a central role right from the start. The complex will generate most of its electricity using rooftop and facade solar installations. Sustainable cooling and heat generation will be provided by heat pumps, and an onsite collection tank will harvest rainwater for use in various applications, such as irrigation and sanitary flushing. The new complex will be built in accordance with the DGNB Gold Standard (German Sustainability Council).
In one of the existing buildings at the Bussmatten site – a production hall used for the manufacture of transmission components – Schaeffler is currently building an ultra-modern plant for electric motors known as the UltraELab. This global flagship plant is being built in accordance with the principles of the “ultra-efficient factory” concept developed by the federal state of Baden-Württemberg in partnership with Schaeffler and others. “As well as raising the bar for efficiency and productivity, our aim with the UltraELab is to make a real contribution to greater sustainability,” said Jochen Schröder. These objectives will be achieved primarily through the agile and flexible production of electric motors, the heart of every electric powertrain. Instead of using fixed production lines, the company will manufacture the motors using flexible digitalized technology modules that can be re-arranged and re-scaled as required. Thanks to standardized interfaces as well as state-of-the-art IT integration, the modules will be much simpler and quicker to set up and configure than conventional systems. This innovative manufacturing concept is being developed under the AgiloDrive2 project led by Schaeffler alongside 17 other consortium partners with funding support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). “Our goal is to achieve flexible and efficient production of innovative electric motors,” says Schröder. A pilot plant in which experts can test the agile production facility already exists at the site. Paired with a digital twin, it will serve as a blueprint for the planned industrial-scale manufacturing facility. “By closely integrating electric motor development and production at a single location, we are leveraging key synergies for continuous product improvement,” Schröder says.