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Production efficiency, Ecology

How to effectively increase the energy efficiency in the automotive industry?

06 June 2022

The continuous growth of the automotive industry poses significant challenges for automotive manufacturing companies. Increasing demands from customers and regulators alike constitute a driving force for a constant search for new solutions and opportunities. Many of them focus on energy efficiency, which is crucial not only for manufacturing, but also for operating a vehicle or its components.

Conscious energy management is the key to success

To ensure optimum levels of energy efficiency, it will first and foremost be necessary to consciously manage resources at every level. This process starts with individual employees and ends with the company as a whole. For this reason, it is extremely important to define an appropriate work system, provide access to energy efficiency training, and provide staff with reliable feedback and suggestions. More and more companies operating in the automotive industry even decide to introduce a special energy registration and monitoring system – as their owners and managers emphasize, such a solution allows to significantly reduce expenses. This approach is based mainly on the dissemination of simple but very valuable practices such as switching off lights and air conditioning when they are not necessary.

See more: How to improve fuel consumption of a car?

How can energy efficiency be improved in the automotive industry?

This is a considerable challenge, but with the right solutions it is fully achievable. One of the first areas to be optimized in production plants is the HVAC system – the integrated air conditioning, ventilation and heating installation. A very simple way to consume less energy is to control individual system parameters so that, for example, the temperature is lower on days off. Another beneficial implementation can be the use of new fans, with optimally selected shapes and sizes of blades. Effective control of airflow and equipment operating mode can significantly reduce energy costs.

How to reduce energy consumption in car manufacturing?

Mindful use of your HVAC system is extremely important, but it's only the beginning of a list of energy-efficient practices. There are some things to think about while you're still building your facility. These include choosing the right doors, windows and airlocks so that their design does not cause excessive heat loss. The landscaping outside the factory is also important: Planting trees will increase the shade inside the building on hot days, which translates into lower energy consumption in relation to air conditioning.

It is also important to take care of the assembly line system as such. Any failures in this area cause disruptions in production and, consequently, considerable energy losses. Regular registration of particular efficiency parameters such as KPI or OEE, which are used to measure the effectiveness of machines and equipment in the facility, can also help. With their assistance it will be possible to determine the actual energy efficiency of the company, as well as to assess the rationale for introducing individual energy-saving solutions.

See more: What does the car factory of the future look like?

How much energy does it take to manufacture a car?

When it comes to energy efficiency in the automotive industry, it is important to consider how much energy is actually needed to produce a single car. This is crucial in the context of environmental protection – higher consumption is usually associated with higher carbon dioxide production. Interestingly, electric cars are particularly detrimental in this regard, mainly due to the production of batteries. The amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere in the production of electric cars is up to 25% higher than in the production of gasoline vehicles. During operation, however, the results are much more favorable for electric cars – carbon dioxide emissions while driving are twice as low.

According to the Swiss scientific publication MDPI, it takes more than 55,000 MJ (megajoules) to produce a single car – the equivalent of the energy contained in almost 1,800 liters of gasoline. That is an enormous number, but it's only a fraction of the consumption over the vehicle's entire life cycle.

Energy efficiency of a car upon leaving the factory

Energy efficiency during production is not enough to effectively reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. It is also very important to ensure that cars consume as little energy as possible in the course of their life cycle – therefore a sustainable design is required. Apart from the engine type, the weight of the vehicle, which is directly related to its energy requirements, is a crucial factor. Automotive manufacturers are constantly making progress in this area, using very lightweight materials for individual components. Among the materials that combine durability, versatility and low weight, foamed polypropylene (EPP) and polystyrene (EPS) are particularly worth mentioning.

See more: How to improve fuel consumption of a car thanks to car design?

Energy-saving solutions from Knauf Industries

Knauf Industries has many years of experience in manufacturing injection molded parts, fillers, and a variety of foamed polystyrene and foamed polypropylene components. The company provides highly reliable, well proven plastic parts for the automotive industry that are lightweight and extremely durable. In addition, Knauf also offers EPP and EPS solutions for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry to increase energy efficiency. The materials also have excellent thermal insulation properties, are environmentally neutral and are 100% recyclable – all of which make EPP and EPS car components a great choice for reducing energy consumption.

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