Living sustainability at all HARTING locations
The goal: CO2-neutral security of supply and the highest possible degree of self-sufficiency. According to the corporate philosophy of the HARTING Technology Group, “ecological responsibility is a fundamental component of our actions”. For the past four decades, the company has been an interface for the interplay of economy and ecology.
As far back as 1975, the then head of the company, Dietmar Harting had a central ion exchanger installed that would see used rinse water being recycled from the electroplating shop. By 1992, all HARTING production sites were CFC-free.
In 2012, the company began the switch to renewable energy sources. The technology group operates four combined heat and power plants with biomethane, three of which have been upgraded to combined cooling, heat and power plants (CCHP). This means that the thermal energy produced can also be converted into cooling, allowing HARTING to achieve a 20 % increase in energy efficiency.
During the construction of the “European Distribution Center” (EDC, opening in 2019), the company undercut the strict requirements of the Kredit-Anstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFW 55) by a further 27 %. This was made possible by intelligent energy management and an energy supply provided by geothermal energy and a photovoltaic system on the roof.
All HARTING’s investments have focussed on climate protection and sustainability. In total, the company has saved an average of around 18,500 tonnes of CO2-eq per year since the 2011/12 financial year – through the use of “green” energy, some of which is self-produced thanks to investments in photovoltaics or energy-efficient production processes.
tec.news spoke with Sven Oßenbrink, Head of Global Facility Management, about the direction and goals with respect to sustainability at HARTING.
tec.news: In your opinion, what are the most important aspects that need to be taken into account by a company to position itself sustainably?
S. Oßenbrink: First of all, the topics of energy optimisation and energy efficiency must be examined. This begins with process optimisation in production: How can production operations be maintained that use as little energy as possible? Cooling water, for example, does not necessarily have to have a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius – 27 degrees Celsius is also more than adequate. For us, utilising heat recovery from production processes to heat buildings also plays an important role. For example, our current approach in the expansion of our Swiss branch is for the building to be fully equipped without heating.
tec.news: Energy efficiency is a buzzword. What is your take on the issue of peak load balancing in production?
S. Oßenbrink: A continuous base load is a central point that does not play a very important role. Savings can be achieved here simply by thinking “small”: have the lights been turned off or have the machines been switched off in the times when production is not in progress? In many ways, we focus mainly on energy efficiency and energy optimisation. In the case of conversions or new builds, we use GWP-neutral materials as far as possible. The European Distribution Center (EDC) mentioned earlier is a still valid and perfect example of an energy-efficient building and of energy being utilised efficiently. We will continue to focus on CO2-neutral construction methods in the future.
tec.news: On the other hand, what are your thoughts on energy production and energy consumption?
S. Oßenbrink: Firstly, and on an international level, we are striving to utilise every roof surface with photovoltaics – but this is only possible if the roof load permits such use. Secondly, we are using combined heat and power plants to generate electricity and heat and – for our location in Germany – we also use electricity generated from hydropower, which we buy in. In addition, we are increasingly driving electric cars in our fleet and are planning a charging infrastructure for each plant. At compressor stations, we are replacing old compressors with new models that allow heat recovery – and we also utilise the resulting waste heat.
tec.news: What kind of further optimisations can we expect in the future?
S. Oßenbrink: We are looking into the possibility of building battery containers and we intend to use intermediate technologies to ensure the security of supply and production in our plants. After all, one thing is certain: a complete emergency supply on the basis of electrical accumulators is – as of today – not feasible. We therefore need to purchase liquid gas. Above and beyond all of these things and measures, the main priority continues to be consistent monitoring: the permanent acquisition of key figures is an important tool in improving efficiency, finding a better energy balance and identifying “outliers”.