NTN Transmissions Europe aims for water autonomy and carbon neutrality – Le Journal des Entreprises – Maine-et-Loire

The NTN Transmissions Europe plant based in Allonnes (156 million euros in 2021, 620 employees, plus 75 temporary workers) consumes 30,000 m3 of potable water to produce its automotive transmissions and other components. The company plans to be self-sufficient in water by 2030, with an intermediate objective in 2025 of reducing its consumption by 60% compared to 2021, with the exception of sanitary water, used by employees for washing or drinking. .

For this subsidiary of the Japanese giant (25,000 employees on 15 sites), which is also the headquarters of NTN Transmissions Europe, the first stage of this project consists in reducing consumption. To do this, the company chose to replace, from April 2023, two air-cooling towers, which were used for cooling industrial processes and which were reaching the end of their life. At a cost of €850,000 (including €209,000 in aid from the Loire-Bretagne Water Agency), four adiabatic coolers will take their place, which will reduce water consumption by 15,000 m3 at 3000m3 around. Although not profitable, this investment also aims to prevent the risk of legionella, which could lead to a halt in activity.

Recycling of cutting fluids

This investment is complemented by other actions. Since January 2023, a recycling plant for cutting liquids with soluble oils has been put into service to collect, filter and regenerate these liquids which were previously treated as waste. This required adjustments to the hydraulic network and to the workshop’s hundred or so machining lathes. That is around €150,000 of work. Finally, a project to recycle discharges from the polluted water treatment station, linked to the paint line, is under study.

Once consumption has been reduced, it will be possible to consider substituting rainwater for mains water. A study is underway. “Even if water costs nothing compared to energy, it is becoming unthinkable to use drinking water for industrial processes. The constraints will increase. We have decided to get ahead on the subject” , comments Gilles Botrel, Deputy Managing Director of NTN Transmissions Europe.

Stéphane Lhuillier, CSR manager, and Gilles Botrel, deputy general manager of NTN Transmissions Europe.
Stéphane Lhuillier, CSR manager, and Gilles Botrel, deputy general manager of NTN Transmissions Europe. – Photo: Rémi Hagel

Photovoltaics without investing

The Le Mans company is carrying out another major project: it would like to cover its electricity consumption through photovoltaic production. With a large amount of land (45 ha), the company signed a protocol for the supply of renewable electricity this January with the companies Cenovia (Sarthe) and See You Sun (Ille-et-Vilaine). These will install and operate the production plants on the site, the electricity from which will be bought by the manufacturer at a negotiated and stable price over thirty years.

This arrangement without investment offers a way for NTN Transmissions Europe to deploy renewable energies, while it has still not recovered its pre-Covid level of activity. It buys energy price stability and visibility, an appreciable guarantee in view of the brutal increases in 2022 and 2023. “In addition, this allows us to meet the demand of some of our German customers, and gives us a competitive interest. We are thus part of the global approach to reducing the carbon footprint defined by the group”, explains Gilles Botrel.

Every week, 72,000 transmissions are produced at the Allonnes site, which has around a hundred machining lathes.
Every week, 72,000 transmissions are produced at the Allonnes site, which has around a hundred machining lathes. – Photo: Cyril Le Tourneur d’Ison

A first field of 2,500 ground-mounted panels will go into production in January 2024, producing 1,100 MWh per year. In July 2024, 3,900 panels (1,750 MWh per year) will be added to the canopies of two car parks, equipped with six charging stations for electric vehicles.

“Initially, we will cover our electric heel, that is to say the consumption that remains when we are not producing (machines on standby, ventilation, etc.), from 1 to 1.5 MWh”, describes Stéphane Lhuillier, CSR manager of NTN Transmissions Europe. “But within five years, we want to get 5 MWh from our average activity. Other panel installations are planned. We will then be 100% self-consumption and will achieve carbon neutrality on perimeters 1 and 2 (excluding emissions related to the plant’s outdoor activity).

NTN Transmissions Europe was created when the transmissions business of Renault Le Mans was taken over by the NTN group in 2000. The company has four sites in Europe. She has diversified her clientele, also working for, among others, BMW, Toyota, Fiat, Honda, Nissan, etc.

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