#GreenJobs - Ferdinand Wieland makes the automotive industry greener
thyssenkrupp Automotive Technology aims to make its production completely climate-neutral by 2024. All of the 50 or so manufacturing sites are to produce CO₂-free and thus save around 250,000 tons of CO₂. Ferdinand Wieland is also involved with the automotive supplier's ambitious goal on a daily basis - and as Senior Vice President Procurement & Supply Management, he ensures that everything also runs sustainably in terms of supply chains.
As Senior Vice President Procurement & Supply Management at thyssenkrupp Automotive Technology, Ferdinand Wieland is responsible for managing the purchasing function at global level. In his role he is working to make the company's supply chains completely climate-neutral. In doing so, he deals with very different aspects of sustainability. After all, supply chains are about much more than just transport routes: What is the nature of the products? Are recycled materials used? Are there alternative raw materials or manufacturing processes? These are the questions the expert faces on a daily basis.
A job that only succeeds in close coordination with others. "My day-to-day work is characterized by many interactions with a wide variety of people and functions," explains Wieland. For Wieland, daily coordination with colleagues from different departments is just as much a part of his day-to-day work as regular exchanges with external partners.
The goal: To be globally C02-neutral by 2024
The thyssenkrupp group has been laying great emphasis on sustainability in supply chains for many years: "With the Supplier Code of Conduct we reached an agreement with our suppliers around 10 years ago, in which, for example, compliance with human rights is regulated worldwide and improvements are demanded where necessary.”, the supply chain expert tells us. The "German Act on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains" (abbreviated to "LkSG"), which will come into force in Germany on January 1, 2023, will make this area even more important in the future. A Group-wide project is currently taking care of its implementation, and Ferdinand Wieland is also part of the interdisciplinary team: "For us, the LkSG is a further incentive to work even harder to ensure the highest sustainability standards," says Wieland.
In addition, the ecological dimension of sustainability in particular has gained importance at thyssenkrupp over the past four years. To slow down climate change and meet customer requirements, Ferdinand Wieland and his colleagues have set themselves ambitious targets to reduce C02 emissions along the entire thyssenkrupp Automotive Technology supply chain.
"We want to be C02-neutral at our global sites by 2024. By 2035, we will also implement this in the supply chain," says Wieland. A difficult task, because the C02 balance of the supply chains is heavily dependent on the company's partners and suppliers. "The so-called Scope 3 emissions – e.g. the emissions of our purchased goods and services - currently cause up to 90% of our C02 emissions," says Wieland, illustrating the challenges.
The greatest need for action: Scope 3 emissions
Scope 3 emissions are an area where there is a great need for action on the part of automotive suppliers, because a car and its components consist to a large extent of steel and aluminum. Both raw materials are very energy-intensive to produce. The classic production process of steel in the blast furnace with coking coal causes a great deal of C02 emissions. The conversion of these production processes to C02-neutral manufacturing processes is a challenge that affects the entire thyssenkrupp Group. "Not to be forgotten is also the increasing use of electronic components," explains Wieland. "These emit more C02 per ton than any other raw materials used."
Another challenge is the globalization of the automotive industry. The globally networked flows of goods and production processes make it more difficult to monitor supply chains holistically - and thus to reduce the emissions caused: "It may well be that a vehicle used in Germany contains components that were purchased in Asia and installed in North America," says the Senior Vice President of Procurement & Supply Management.
In small steps to the goal
Wieland and his colleagues are tackling this challenge successively in small, local projects: "With focused localization projects, we ensure that our suppliers produce where our own needs are," he explains. "This eliminates long transport routes and thus C02 emissions." As part of an interdisciplinary project involving various business units, Wieland's team has also developed a communications strategy to raise awareness among suppliers of the common goal of becoming C02-neutral.
In the short term, however, the biggest lever for improving the sustainability balance sheet of the automotive manufacturer remains its 50 or so own plants and locations worldwide. "Here we have already launched a large number of promising activities, some of which have been successfully implemented," says Wieland. "At our Heilbronn site, for example, we have been supplying ourselves with 100% green electricity since the beginning of the year. We are successively expanding the use of renewable energies worldwide," explains the expert. In purchasing, the team supports this measure by switching contracts to green power or purchasing so-called certificates of origin.
Making sustainability a career
A much-quoted phrase that motivates Ferdinand Wieland in his daily work: "We only have one planet. Sustainable supply chains are the key to protecting this planet and counteracting climate change," he says. For him, being involved in such a crucial issue is what makes his job so appealing.
The Senior Vice President of Procurement & Supply Management therefore sees many attractive opportunities in the context of sustainable supply chains for career starters who don't shy away from a challenge and want to make a difference: "If you're looking for a job in which the tasks are firmly structured, in which everyday life follows the same pattern and tasks have to be solved alone, you won't be happy with us," says Wieland. "But if you like variety in the range of topics and want to develop new solutions to challenges in interdisciplinary teams, we're the right place for you!"
As part of our Green Jobs series, we present colleagues from across the thyssenkrupp Group who are contributing to climate protection and reducing emissions through their work. More exciting insights into work on sustainable technologies can be found in our stories.