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One of the most environmentally friendly factories in the world for 15 years

The Porsche factory in Leipzig is one of the most sustainable automobile factories in the world. Protecting the environment and the efficient use of natural resources is a corporate objective which is taken very seriously and is reflected in all processes and procedures.

The goals are defined in the company’s environmental and energy management system:  conserve resources, use energy efficiently and conserve the environment by reducing CO2 emissions, as well as lower volumes of solvents and waste.

Porsche not only meets these stringent requirements, but takes sustainability one step further. For 15 years, Porsche Leipzig has been putting their words into action. All construction and extension works as part of the production of the new Panamera generation were therefore planned from the viewpoint of sustainability. Porsche had already developed new processes and procedures in 2014 for the construction of the Macan, which have now been further developed for the Panamera. This applies in particular to the new body shop and the expansion works in assembly.

Body shop: Energy-efficient joining techniques

The new coachbuilding process sets standards in environmental terms. Porsche Leipzig will put another photovoltaic system in operation in the summer, saving four megawatt-hours of energy from conventional sources and supplying the new body shop with a huge part of the electricity it requires. There is particularly economical lighting throughout the new building. The system is wholly based on LED technology and is operated via a control system. Advanced network technology in the plant control system also helps to save energy. An adjoining cogeneration unit is used for efficient heat and power generation. The new body shop has a production area of approximately 56,000 sq. m. Innovative and technological developments in processes and manufacturing systems have helped to reduce energy consumption in the production of the new Panamera. This is partly due to new energy-efficient joining technologies, for example by flow drilling screws that need no pre-drilling. Given the multi-material mix in the light bodies, riveting and clinching joining techniques are also increasingly used so that less energy is consumed. All robotics and programming of the production facilities have been implemented to take account of energy efficiency. This applies in particular to the use of servo-pneumatics in the welding tongs. Selected components can now function without any compressed air, helping to consistenly reduce energy consumption.

Porsche Leipzig had already developed an energy-efficient body shop for the Macan. Since 2014, a photovoltaic system on the roof with a capacity of 880 kWp has been generating up to 800,000 kWh of electricity per year by solar power. This is the annual power consumption of more than 150 Western European four-person households. Modern methods of cooling the robotic welding tongs with heat recovery also reduces power consumption by more than 365,000 kWh per year.

Paint shop: Up to 60 per cent lower energy consumption

A stone dust filter system is used in the state-of-the-art paint shop to dry-separate the resulting paint overspray. This uses up to 60 per cent less energy compared to a water-based system. Excess paint particles are captured with fluidised limestone powder and finally processed (by external parties) into cement. Neither water nor chemicals are needed for dry separation with limestone powder. In addition, wet chemical air purification in the top coat lines ensures that the solvent contained in the paint mist is reduced to a minimum. The operation is simple: The solvents contained in the exhaust air are passed through the filter modules, bound in a medium and subsequently separated in an adsorption process and collected separately. The solvents that are necessary for various cleaning processes are not disposed of as usual. They are sent to external distillation plants for processing and are subsequently reused.

About 80 per cent of the paint shop’s heat requirements are covered in a CO2-neutral way. Electricity and usable heat is produced by CO2-neutral combustion of renewable waste wood from sustainably managed forestry and cogeneration in the wood chip combustion facility of a biomass power plant located directly next to the factory. Each year, this alone reduces CO2 emissions by more than 8,000 tons. The energy requirement in the so-called Ergo-Lux tunnel of the paint shop is reduced by 50 per cent by not using fluorescent lights in the surface inspection of bodies. This area is equipped with particularly economical LED modules. Their light is projected as required onto the bodies using adjustable mirrors. This provides a completely uniform strip of light for inspecting the painted surface, at the same time creating ergonomically optimised working conditions.

Assembly: The lights are switched off during work breaks

And there are more forward-looking changes in assembly. Intelligent networking between the building, production facilities and the vehicles allows lighting control on demand in assembly as well. Simply shutting down workplace lighting automatically during breaks can save 80 MWh per year. Where possible, existing halogen spotlights have been replaced with LED lights with programmable control. Depending on the workload and vehicle type, lighting is provided only as needed so that energy can be saved sustainably.

Outside area: 21 horsepower for the environment

Porsche not only focuses on sustainable solutions in the production area. The outside area, illuminated with more than 500 energy-saving LED lamps, closes the circle of the comprehensive environmental protection practices at this ultra-modern factory complex. More than 650 new trees were planted on the factory premises as part of the new Panamera project. Porsche also collects rainwater and uses this for the driving dynamics area, so the unnecessary use of potable water can be completely eliminated.

From the very beginning of Porsche Leipzig 15 years ago, there has also been horsepower outside the vehicles. At the moment, 21 wild horses and 74 aurochs live on the site in complete harmony with the ultra-modern car factory. They are part of a grazing programme and feel right at home on the largely untouched off-road area, covering about 120 hectares. This enables Porsche to skilfully combine the latest manufacturing technology and ecology.