Automated Logistics System
Annual savings of approx. 40% CO2
As a mid-sized, family-run group of companies, the bilstein group has always taken its social and ecological responsibility seriously. For us, however, sustainability is more than just a mandatory obligation: we want to align all our actions with it over the coming years.
Sustainability will play a role in every important operational decision because, as a family company, we know that only sustainable business processes have a future. This future has already begun in the bilstein group. Below, you will find many examples of our projects on the road to sustainability.
For us, sustainability is more than just reducing the carbon footprint of a product. As we work towards becoming a more sustainable company, we try to cover the entire scope of the issue.
From our perspective, sustainability is comprised of three key components:
Sustainability is therefore not limited to producing the smallest possible carbon footprint but also to creating long-term jobs with decent working conditions and living wages. For us, however, sustainable production also means manufacturing products using economically viable processes that minimize negative impacts on the environment - all while conserving energy and natural resources.
Alternative-drives are key to achieving global climate targets. In 2022 the EU decided that new registrations of combustion-engine cars will be banned from 2035. In the future, it will be all the more important that vehicles with hybrid, electric or other alternative-drive systems are supplied with the necessary spare parts for the longest possible service life.
We already have thousands of parts on offer for the hybrid, electric, hydrogen and alternate-powered vehicle sector, be it passenger cars or commercial vehicles. More than 2,000 new articles are being introduced annually for passenger cars alone, and we have a database of over 90,000 individual vehicle variants.
Additionally, the delivery of more than four million catalogue applications to the screens of distributors and installers around the world puts the bilstein group in a very strong position to provide the aftermarket with the widest range of repair and maintenance parts - today and tomorrow.
Essential to more sustainable consumption for the bilstein group comes from the extension of a vehicle's lifespan, too. However, we are well aware that the CO2 balance of mostly older vehicles with combustion engines must be compared to vehicles with more modern drive technology.
Positive Influence on the Sustainability Balance
As the pioneer in the IAM, we believe that our high-quality and durable products are extending the vehicle lifespan so significantly (with comparatively low use of resources), that we have a positive influence on the sustainability balance of the whole vehicle.
By adding more and more parts for alternative-drive vehicles to our range, we will be able to keep cars on the road for longer in the years to come, thus securing the future of sustainable mobility.
Climate protection is a major concern for us - we are committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. In order to contribute to this, the bilstein group reduces emissions along the entire supply chain and relies, for example, on energy-efficient technologies, renewable energies, resource-saving production processes and building standards as well as a comprehensive energy-management system.
"In this way, we contribute to saving resources and at the same time live up to our identity as a family-owned company: we think and plan in terms of generations, and the protection of our environment also plays a central role in this," says Group Managing Director Jan Siekermann.
Annual savings of approx. 40% CO2
80% of all carriers converted to Euro 5 standard
Combined heat and power unit producing energy for logistics
Consuming 45% less energy than comparable buildings
Refitting of conventional lights in production and logistics
750 kWp photovoltaic system
Innovative heating concept utilising machine waste heat
First full electric car in the fleet
Packaging is either 100% cardboard or 100% plastic
Consuming 45% less energy than comparable buildings
15.000 m2 green roof
750 kWp photovoltaic system
Reduction of plastic packaging by 2 tonnes per year
Supplying the German sites with electricity exclusively from renewable sources
Climate-neutral logistics and production in Germany (Scope 1 & 2)
Integrating all sites worldwide into the energy management system
The bilstein group not only focuses on avoiding CO2 - we also produce our own electricity. We have installed photovoltaic systems in our production hall in Ennepetal and our logistics centre in Gelsenkirchen.
The system in Ennepetal is one of the largest in the Ennepe-Ruhr district, covering around 6,000 square metres. Production uses around 80% of the electricity generated (approx. 700,000 kWh/year) for its own machines. The surplus ‘green’ electricity is fed into the general power grid.
The photovoltaic system in Gelsenkirchen is also around 6,000 square metres in size and has 2,200 photovoltaic modules. They can produce over 700,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
The output of both solar plants - 1.4 million kWh/year - corresponds to the electricity needs of approximately 500 households.
Below you can see the output of our first solar power plant (2018-2020) and both plants together (2021-2022). Estimated figures for 2022. The photovoltaic system in Gelsenkirchen is not yet reaching its full potential.
In logistics, buildings tend to look functional from the outside, but our new buildings have it all when it comes to energy efficiency. Both our production and logistics centre in Gelsenkirchen, opened in 2022, were built according to KfW Standard 55. This means they consume around 45 percent less energy than a comparable new building without efficiency measures.
Better Climate Conditions
In addition, two halls and the main entrance in Gelsenkirchen have been equipped with a green roof on an area of around 15,000 square metres. Not only environmental aspects play a role here: among other things, the green roof helps to reduce the negative effects of heavy rainfall and contributes to better climate conditions in the rooms underneath.
In our logistics centres, we mainly rely on automated logistics systems. In Gelsenkirchen, for example, this allows us to save around 75% of the space required by a purely manual warehouse.
We also use energy-efficient components and drives (active shutdown of conveyor technology when not in use; use of braking energy of the stacker cranes).
Thanks to savings in light and heat as well as process energy, we consume up to 1,500 t CO2 less per year in our automated warehouses than in a comparable manual warehouse.
Other factors also play a role. In production, for example, the waste heat from the machines is used to heat the fresh air drawn in from outside in colder months, saving on additional heating. The waste heat from the compressors is, in turn, used to generate hot water for the sanitary facilities. For our metal hardening processes, we consequently use rain and drainage water to cool down the cooling circuit.
This is how our production contributes to climate protection:
Fresh water consumption -
systematic use of drainage water
Recirculation of process heat -
no loss of valuable energy
Energy savings -
production hall according to KfW-55 standard
To save energy, you first have to know where and how much energy is being consumed. For this reason, an energy management system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 50001 and certified by TÜV was introduced at our main German sites in Ennepetal and Wuppertal as early as 2016; followed by our site in Markham Vale, UK, in 2019. With this, the bilstein group has committed itself to collecting and evaluating energy-relevant data and initiating appropriate measures to save energy and resources.
In 2018, energy management became significantly more restrictive. In order to meet this new requirement, we have been certified in accordance with the stricter DIN EN ISO 50001:2018 since 2020.
"Operating efficiently and conserving resources are essential components of our corporate policy," says Group Managing Director Jan Siekermann. "In the long term, we want to reduce costs, strengthen our competitive position and make an active contribution to environmental protection."
CO2 emissions reporting is the foundation for active climate protection. Therefore, from 2020 onwards, we have had our carbon footprint determined according to Scope 1 and 2* at our locations in Germany.
For 2022 we expect a significant reduction in our carbon footprint because, from this year onwards, we are supplying the German bilstein group sites (Ennepetal, Wuppertal, Gelsenkirchen and Durmersheim) with electricity exclusively from renewable sources. This is another important step on our way to making ourselves even more sustainable as a company.
‘Green Sites’ Programme
We launched the ‘Green Sites’ programme to integrate the international bilstein group locations. It pursues the goal of recording and reducing emissions in Scope 1 and Scope 2* at all main locations as well as downstream at all sales offices.
By the end of 2025, all worldwide bilstein group logistics and production sites are to be integrated into the energy management system. From 2030, this will apply to all bilstein group sites and companies.
*Scope 1: includes the direct release of climate-damaging gases within the company and its production processes.
Scope 2: includes the indirect release of climate-damaging gases by energy suppliers.
Less Packaging - More Environmental Protection
When it comes to packaging, the bilstein group is also taking important steps towards more sustainability. For example, since 2022, the logistics at HQ in Ennepetal has refrained from packing small parts for repair kits in a neutral plastic bag. This saves about two tonnes of plastic per year. A significant reduction was also achieved in bubble wrap, which is used to protect goods.
In 2020, the general consumption of bubble wrap was analysed and put to the test. The result was clear: since then, we have been using around 24.5 tonnes less bubble wrap per year. Through the system partnership with PARTSLIFE, the environmental management service provider for the automotive industry, the bilstein group makes an active contribution to waste avoidance and disposal.
Recycled Plastic Wrap
In 2022 our logistics in Germany switched to bubble wrap that consists of up to 50 percent recycled plastic.
But isn't 100 percent also possible? For the air cushions to form, parts of the material are welded together. To be able to control these processes, a sheet consists of different layers. The different properties of these layers require a certain proportion of virgin material, as the melting temperatures are known and uniform for this type.
Small Ideas, Big Impact
In 2018 Ali Serttekin, who has been working in bilstein group logistics since 1994, had the idea to use A5 stickers larger packages instead of A4 stickers. A simple idea thanks to which a lot of paper can be saved. In addition, combi-packaging (packaging made of a combination of cardboard and plastic) was completely eliminated in the company.
Thanks to this simple but efficient measure, the materials can be separated more easily and recycled accordingly.
Let There Be LED!
A large part of our logistics in Germany is now equipped with energy-saving LED lights. In logistics in Ennepetal alone, well over two kilometres of lighting have been newly installed in recent years and connected to the existing intelligent building management system so that it can be controlled entirely according to need.
Thanks to this solution, 294 tonnes of CO2 can be saved per year.