ZF Lemforder

Credit: www.businessalabama.com

Credit: www.businessalabama.com Inside ZF in 2012

Source: Google Maps

Source: Google Maps 2007

Source: Google maps 2013

Source: Google maps 2013

ZF Lemforder was established in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1994 (1). ZF Lemforder started in 1915 producing transmissions for airships and vehicles in Germany. In 1963, Jürgen Ulderup, the CEO of ZF at the time, decided to take ZF global. In 1963, Ulderup expanded ZF in Brazil to manufacture track rods and drive shafts (10 ). The Tuscaloosa ZF branch focuses on creating car chassis technology, rubber/metal and plastic components, and gearshift systems for vehicles (8). Mercedes Benz is one of the major clients for ZF Lemforder’s Tuscaloosa plant. In 2012, the Mercedes Benz plant expanded in Vance, Alabama, which is 30 minutes away from the ZF Lemforder plant in Tuscaloosa. It is no coincidence that when Mercedes Benz expanded so did ZF Lemforder. Benz invested $14.6 billion into expanding ZF when?  Greater specificity  (3). ZF supplies Mercedes with electric power steering systems for Mercedes M, R, and GL Class vehicles, which are made in Tuscaloosa (3/4).

ZF Lemforder has had an outstanding economic impact in Tuscaloosa. ZF added 38,800 square feet to its warehouse in 2011 when Mercedes Benz made its expansion. This created 85 new jobs for the people of Tuscaloosa (2). ZF Tuscaloosa currently has 326 employees working for the plant (2). Out of all the manufacturing companies in Tuscaloosa, ZF is in the top 10 in terms of employment (6).  According to ReferenceUSA, there was a significant increase in sales volume between the years 2012-2014. In 2012 the sales volume was $126 million and in 2014 the sales volume increased to $151 million (5).

Over the past several years, ZF Lemforder has taken charge of reducing their own environmental footprint. According to Alabama’s Environmental Council newsletter, ZF Lemforder has worked to make its facility a “Zero Waste Plant” through recycling and reusing what ?. The newsletter states that the trips to landfills have been cut down by 67 percent. Not only did the trips benefit the environment but it has also benefited ZF due to savings in disposal fees. In 2007, according to the newsletter, ZF won the recycler of the year award in the industrial division from the Alabama Recycling Coalition. ZF Lemforder Tuscaloosa was also given “The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence in 2007-2008.” This award is given to companies that raise awareness of “lean manufacturing concepts” (7).  Lean manufacturing is based on finding the most efficient way to minimize wasteful steps that do not change the end value of the product.

CEO Ron Davis, emphasizes that ZF “will continue to promote efficient, lean practices here in our day-to-day operations to maintain a world-class facility” (7). The EPA notes that the area around the plant is a “non- attainment area,” meaning the area around ZF is not polluted (8). ZF has received help from Alabama’s organization, E3 (Economy, Energy and Environment). ZF Lemforder plant manager Ron Davis made a testimonial and explained “as a result of E-3 workshops we quickly implemented significant improvements to reduce costs and improve energy efficiency” (9). The Alabama Network Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, which is a part of E3, investigated possible changes that ZF could make to further reduce its environmental footprint. Alabama Network Center suggested that ZF could do this by replacing metal halide light fixtures with fluorescent fixtures, fix air leaks that are currently in ZF, and install cool roof systems (8). ZF Lemforder is not only taking action in reducing their plants environmental footprint, but ZF is also investigating more ways to make their plant even more environmentally efficient. However, in 2013, Lemforder did receive one “V” violation from the EPA which is a non-RNC violations. This means that Lemforder’s violation was not a major one but there was a violation with their facility for one quarter according to the EPA .



Source 1: Business Alabama


Source 2: ZF Website


Source 3: Tuscaloosa News


Source 4: ZF website


Source 5: Reference USA


Source 6: Tuscaloosa.com


Source 7: NewsRX- ProQuest



Source 8-CMER



Source 9- E3



Source 10- History of ZF



Source 11- Company profile