At least 95% of all materials in ZF’s products are recyclable. By refurbishing a unit instead of buying a new one, you can save up to 90% of energy and reuse 50-90% of the material, depending on the product.
Sustainability and circular economy are trending expressions. Circular economics may be easiest illustrated by putting it in contrast to linear economics, where a product is manufactured and then sold to a customer who, in turn, discards the product when consumed. A short-term and unsustainable way of working in view of the fact that all commodities are finite and have an impact on our environment. In a circular economy, the product is created in a manner that allows it to be recycled or reused as much as possible and provides few or no environmentally detrimental residual products. Despite the upswing of circular economies, linear economy is still the dominant business model.
Fashion words come and go, but working with products and services with a long-term plan is no new idea. “I see no contradiction between doing business and thinking about sustainability. On the contrary. KGK’s commitment to our customers is ‘a long-term good business’. Then these business deals must be sustainable”, says KG Knutsson CEO Johan Regefalk.
“We at KGK, like the rest of our industry, have an important role to play for a sustainable future,” continues Johan Regefalk. “About 85 percent of our passenger transport is done by car, bus and motorcycle, and nothing indicates that people’s desire for mobility will subside. But our mobility must be more sustainable. ”
Since the 1950s, KGK has been ZF’s service partner in Sweden – and in later years in Norway and the Baltics as well. ZF is one of the world’s largest suppliers of drivetrain and chassis technology, as well as active and passive safety. In 2015, the company had a turnover of approximately € 29 billion with a total of 135,000 employees in 40 countries.
As an authorized service partner to ZF, KGK handles all warranty, service and renovation of ZF products in Sweden, Norway and the Baltic States. The workshop primarily handles services of gearboxes and axles in the bus, truck, construction, marine and train segments. And this is where fashionable terms as sustainability and circular economy come true.
For example, renovating a bus gearbox can mean saving anything between 50% and 90% in material compared to constructing a new one.
A refurbishment guarantees a long life for the vehicle, which improves residual value and prolongs production life. But for the customer, perhaps the biggest profit is in saved time. KGK has a large inventory of exchange units that can be delivered within a working day, ensuring that bus operators across the country can quickly get their bus back into service.
“It is of course important that we spare the environment by working with circular economy,” says Christian Nord, workshop manager at KGK’s ZF department. “But for our customers, that’s just a bonus. They value our swiftness far more. A dump truck that’s immobilized can hold up a whole road project and cost millions per day. Renovating means minimal downtime and that the work is carried out environmentally and cost-effectively. In addition, it provides an improvement in the vehicle’s residual value and remaining production life. ”
KGK has acquired a long experience together with ZF. And Christian Nord is careful to emphasize the professional skills required by the employees. “We do not repair, we renovate. That’s a big difference. Our technicians are certified specialists with many years of experience and can determine whether parts should be replaced, refurbished or reinstalled. ”
“We completely dismantle all refurbished products, clean and examine them carefully before assembling the items. Then we put them through the test bench to ensure they are as new in operation, reliability and durability. All units or parts that do not meet our high expectations and standards are replaced.”
If it is extra-urgent or if the renovation object is too large to be moved, as can be the case with gearboxes for ferries or mining machines, one of KGK’s service technicians will come to the customer. One example of such an inaccessible workplace is the Aitik mine just south of Gällivare.
A service that is slowly gaining in importance to ZF and its partners is the conversion of gearboxes from fossil fuel to ethanol and electricity. “The change of fuel source is a movement that affects the entire industry. It is mostly a matter of how long the change will take. ZF is at the forefront and also develops systems for autonomous cars”, concludes Christian Nord.