Friedrichshafen, Germany. ZF recognized eight of its almost 30,000 suppliers worldwide for their excellent performance. The ZF Supplier Awards were given as part of the company's own Global Supplier Summit, which this year was primarily focused on sustainability. Around a thousand participants from all over the world received insights into the corporate strategy, new technologies and the resulting new requirements relating to purchasing and logistics from ZF's top management at the virtual conference.
“Sustainability is an integral part of our corporate strategy. ZF is anchored in our Green Power Roadmap with the goal that we will be climate neutral by 2040 ten years earlier than envisaged in the Paris Climate Agreement. The overarching goal is to reconcile society's mobility needs with the requirements of a healthy ecosystem,” said ZF board member Wilhelm Rehm, who is responsible for the technology company's materials management, among other things. “This goal has a decisive impact on the entire supply chain. More than ever, we expect our suppliers to join us on the path to a climate-neutral future,” emphasizes Rehm.
The winner of this year's ZF Supplier Award in the “Sustainability” category is the AE Group from Gerstungen in Germany. The specialist for ready-to-install light metal cast components has been one of ZF's strategic suppliers for over 20 years and supplies, among other things, aluminum die-cast components for control units, power electronics and axle drive housings. Primary reason for the award: The AE Group has been producing completely CO2-neutrally since June of this year. For example, the company is relying on the increased use of recycled aluminum and offsetting the annual emissions of 35,000 tons of CO2 by purchasing the required energy in the form of one hundred percent green electricity and one hundred percent CO2-neutral gas, which is offset by a hydropower plant in India.
The Supplier Award in the “Digitization / Networking” category goes to Microsoft in 2021. Microsoft supports ZF significantly in its digital transformation. For example, ZF uses the Azure cloud platform to develop a digital production platform. A quick rollout of Microsoft Teams during COVID-19 connected more than one hundred thousand ZF employees with one another and enabled a hybrid work culture.
Flex Automotive wins a supplier award in the “Production Material” category. The automotive division of the Flex Group, whose headquarters are in Singapore and whose entrepreneurial roots are in Silicon Valley, supplies ZF with electronic modules for the area of active safety. With its extensive international network, the company provided ZF with significant support in its localization efforts in Europe, North America and Asia.
The award winners in the "Non-Production Material" category are Grob-Werke, headquartered in Mindelheim, Germany. The manufacturer of processing centers, universal machines and assembly lines has been a strategic ZF supplier for many years and supplies the technology group with high-quality machines for in-house production, among other things. The company has a global manufacturing presence in North and South America, Europe and China and has made a decisive contribution to ZF's technological transformation, including within electromobility.
Another four categories reflect the technology fields strategically defined by ZF. In the “Automated Driving” area, the ZF Supplier Award goes to Oxbotica, one of the world's leading providers of software for autonomous vehicles. The British company, with which ZF has been working since 2019, supports the technology group in its transformation into a digitized and software-oriented mobility service provider. The two companies have also agreed a strategic partnership to develop an automated system for transporting people and goods.
In the "Integrated Safety" category, ZF honored Elastic-Berger from Alfdorf in Germany, one of the leading manufacturers of belt straps for car seat belts. The globally operating company supplies ZF with belts that have heating wires woven into them. They serve as a heat source and lead to a more efficient heating process, especially in electrically powered vehicles. They also increase driving comfort for the occupants. The technology supports ZF in the development of the first heated seat belt system in the automotive market.
Efficiency and cost advantages
The winner of the award in the "Vehicle Motion Control" technology field is the plastics manufacturer Weißer und Grießhaber. The ZF supplier from Mönchweiler in the German Schwarzwald-Baar district has developed a glass fiber-reinforced all-plastic micro-filter using a novel production process. Such high-precision and extremely high-performance plastic parts and assemblies for the automotive industry provide efficiency and cost advantages and reduce the complexity of the parts.
In the "Electromobility" category, the ZF supplier award goes to Panasonic Industry Europe. The division of the Japanese electronics group supplies the ZF Electrified Powertrain Technology division with size, weight and performance-optimized capacitors for the power electronics of electric drives, which enable end customers to have a longer range with the battery capacity available.