#GreenJobs - Julia Pütz makes the automotive industry more sustainable with process optimization
Our experts at thyssenkrupp work every day to make our group greener. One is Julia Pütz, OPX Manager for series production at thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions in Heilbronn. Here she explains tasks as an OPX manager and tells how she drives sustainability forward.
"OPX stands for Operational Excellence and covers the successive optimization of all process steps in a company," says Julia Pütz, explaining her area of expertise. At automotive supplier thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions, she and her colleagues are responsible for precisely this optimization. Her day-to-day work involves analyzing and continuously improving all processes, procedures, and systems - along the entire value chain. Consequently, all steps and measures involved in producing automotive components must be as efficient, economical, and sustainable as possible.
The team's challenge is not only to maintain an overview of the entire value chain but also to act as an interface to almost all of the company's specialist departments. This includes, for example, colleagues from the Energy & Environmental Efficiency department, with whom the team regularly examines and promotes sustainability aspects.
How can an automotive supplier become more sustainable?
"It was initially important for us to create the greatest possible transparency," says Julia Pütz, looking back on the team's work. The central question here was and still is; what is the situation regarding resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions across the entire value chain at thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions?
"We have defined fields of action for the overarching goals and are working on these, partly in cooperation with universities," explains Pütz. "Among other things, the establishment of a monitoring system to analyze energy efficiency and the CO2 footprint has been defined as a milestone." Additionally, current events in world politics and climate continue to influence the OPX processes. Creative and innovative approaches are necessary to achieve greater sustainability in the automotive industry.
Challenges on the road to sustainability
"Current world events as well as climatic changes show how much our energy supply currently depends on global factors, while at the same time demonstrating how important it is to take action," says Pütz. She believes that for industrial companies, this means rising to the challenge and making energy supplies as emission-free as possible. Of course, this cannot be done overnight and requires a combination of a wide range of measures and optimizations. Since the beginning of the year, the plants of thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solution have been relying on the use of green electricity.
"As part of our sustainability activities, we are defining fields of action and activities across locations with which we want to achieve our common goal of CO2 neutrality," says Pütz, describing the team's work.
Sustainable projects at thyssenkrupp Automotive Body Solutions
But it's clear: "To achieve overarching sustainability goals, a lot has to happen at project level and in individual initiatives." One of these projects, for example, is the production of aluminum briquettes, which makes it easier to return production residues from lightweight components for car bodies to the production cycle. "The production of lightweight components for car bodies produces aluminum chips that are difficult to transport and recycle due to their high volume," explains Julia Pütz.
To minimize transportation, efficiently return waste to the production cycle, and reduce emissions, the team decided to integrate a briquetting system into the production cycle. "Briquetting allows aluminum residues to be better recycled and their volume to be reduced by a full 90%," says Pütz, explaining the team's decision. This saves emissions and fuel.
Cooperation with universities on resource conservation
"In addition, we have defined various projects in cooperation with universities," explains Julia Pütz. One of them creates transparency concerning resource consumption and emissions during component manufacture. In future, the expected CO2 emissions are to be calculated as early as the process planning and costing stages of new projects. In this way, the issue of sustainability will be taken into account, evaluated, and optimized from the outset.
Living sustainability - not just at work
What does sustainability mean to her personally? For Julia Pütz, it is clear: "For me, sustainability means acting in a resource-conserving way to ensure that future generations can live in an intact environment. Personally, the topic of sustainability offers me perspective and at the same time presents me with challenges, for example when I have to make the decision whether to travel by car or by train." This includes finding the best solution for the environment after work, too. However, as things are constantly changing, the OPX manager's motto is the same in her free time as in her job: "Even the best solutions have to be continuously questioned."
Choosing a Green Job
What the OPX manager appreciates most about her job is the varied field of activity in an industrial company: "From lean management, data analysis, occupational safety, energy and the environment to benchmark visits to other plants, everything is included. Above all, she enjoys the work and the exchange with motivated and committed colleagues. Contributing to the sustainability of the entire company is a welcome bonus.
For anyone who would like to follow her example and take up a career in sustainability, Julia Pütz offers the following advice: "Young people starting in their careers should maintain their motivation, creativity, and inquisitiveness and try to learn from the experience of established colleagues. Especially in the beginning, the phrase "We've always done it this way" can dampen initial motivation.
"Don't let this discourage you, but find new solutions together with your colleagues," says Pütz. "No matter what job newcomers decide on, in my view every job offers enough room for sustainable optimization concepts that can be implemented with commitment and dedication, even in small steps."
If you are interested in green jobs and sustainability, you can find more stories about innovative technologies and dedicated employees who make thyssenkrupp a little greener in our stories.