Siemens Congleton to hit carbon neutral target – eight years early!

Siemens’ Congleton factory is set to achieve carbon neutrality this year – eight years ahead of its original target.

The operation, which manufactures over 1.2m controls and drives per year, has deployed a range of sustainable solutions for energy generation and demand with support from Siemens’ energy and performance services business, Smart Infrastructure. 

These include generating 75kw of renewable energy through a hydro-electric plant at Havannah Weir on the River Dane and using carbon neutral certified biogas to power its on-site gas engine. These measures alone saved over £250,000 pounds a year and took the 80% power-independent factory off the grid.

Siemens Congleton also adopted a building management system which automatically drives energy efficiency improvements, and modern windows and LED lighting have reduced the total energy bill by 13% and 30% respectively.

Combined with reducing waste to landfill to zero and EV charging for staff and visitors, the Cheshire site is eight years ahead of Siemens’ original 2015 commitment to ensure carbon neutral operations by 2030.

Andrew Peters, Managing Director of Siemens Digital Industries Congleton, said: “Siemens believes that sustainability is a force for good and can deliver value for all its stakeholders. We want to help customers achieve sustainable growth and to transform their industries through decarbonisation. The first step of that is for us to achieve these ambitions in our own operations.”

The 50-year-old Siemens Congleton factory began its sustainability journey in 1990 when it started manufacturing drives for industry. In 2018 the factory became fully digital through lean manufacturing methods to achieve continuous improvement and by adopting leading-edge Industry 4.0 processes.

Using Virtual Reality, Digital Twin, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Advanced Robotics, Cloud Technology and Additive Manufacturing, the plant has produced up to 50,000 variations of its products to meet demand, increased productivity by driving down costs, and improved efficiency.

In 1990, 400 workers made 50,000 variable speed drives and controls a year. Today, a similar number of workers produce 1.2 million electrical devices – including 600,000 variable speed drives (VSDs) – within the same physical footprint. The factory is surrounded by industrial units and housing estates, with no room to expand, meaning Congleton has one of the highest productivity rates per m2 of any Siemens’ sites.

Faye Bowser, Head of Siemens’ Energy & Performance Services GB&I, said: “The climate emergency puts the demand on businesses of all sizes and sectors to really accelerate their efforts for decarbonisation. But a challenge is that often decarbonisation isn’t their core business. So, at Energy and Performance Services we make it our business to use our skills, our knowledge and our tools to help our customers transition to net zero in a way that contributes to their business priorities.

“Despite us being from the Siemens family, we have approached working with Congleton the same we do with any organisation. It has been fantastic.

“We have ended up with an engineered roadmap to net zero that considers timelines, finance, digital services, all there to safeguard business continuity, and to have a method to continuously identify more opportunities to reduce carbon on site.”

As a global operation, Siemens is committed to ensure all its operations are carbon neutral by 2030 and for all production facilities and buildings to achieve net zero-carbon footprint by 2030.

Progress has been recognised by The Carbon Trust, which partners organisations to achieve science-based targets. In June Siemens was awarded its Route to Net Zero Standard tier one certification for ‘Taking Action’.

Olivia Whitlam, Head of Sustainability, Siemens Plc, concluded: “We have 8,600 people spread across offices and 11 manufacturing sites across the UK and we are creating innovation up and down the country with sustainability at the core of our operations and services. Our Congleton factory is paving the way for sustainability whilst setting a great example on how manufacturers can join this amazing journey to net zero.”

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