ZF to Supply Wind Turbine Gear Boxes

ZF has signed a contract with global wind energy market leader Vestas to supply wind turbines gear boxes. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2012 at a new U.S. facility under construction in Gainesville, Ga., with the goal of eventually producing 2,000 gear boxes per year for the growing wind power industry.

In addition, ZF will add manufacturing test stands for the wind gear box industry to its substantial experience in providing engineered end-of-line and development test benches.

ZF has been providing service for the wind power industry since 2007, and is currently investing in service centers for wind turbines in Dortmund, Germany and in the United States.

"We will leverage our expertise and leadership in designing and building world-class drivelines for the transportation sector to enter the growing and exciting field of alternative energy. This will diversify our core business and expand our product portfolio," said ZF Group CEO Hans-Georg Harter.

ZF aims to achieve annual gear box sales of more than $200 million. With more than 40,000 wind turbines in 63 countries, Vestas is the world leader in wind power. The Danish company has been in the wind turbine business since 1979. ZF is investing about $90 million to build the new Gainesville facility, which will employ about 200 workers.

"Sustainable, environmentally friendly energy is on the rise in light of concern about global warming and the need to reduce CO2 emissions and produce carbon-neutral energy," said Rolf Lutz, head of ZF’s Commercial Vehicle and Special Driveline Technology Division.

"We are delighted that ZF has chosen to enter the Wind Industry and work with Vestas as gear box supplier. ZF’s global position as transmission supplier in the automotive industry and its high quality and productivity standards are fully in line with our manufacturing and sourcing strategy and the cooperation with ZF will strengthen our supply base of gear boxes," said Soren Husted, president of Vestas Nacelles.

"We’ve been applying our driveline technologies to areas beyond cars and trucks for several years ? such as to the marine, rail and aviation industries. Now that we have added wind power, we will gain access to new markets," said Harter.

Maintenance and testing services

Last year at its Dortmund/Holzwickede site in Germany, ZF invested $9 million Euros establishing a service competence center for wind power. By 2012, various brands and models of wind turbine gear boxes will be serviced and overhauled there. By 2014, ZF Services aims for its worldwide wind energy sales to rise to $50 million Euros.

Also, ZF is constructing a loading test rig with a four-megawatt performance capacity. Serviced gear boxes will be driven under simulated load conditions to measure both structural and airborne noise levels. ZF Services is the industry’s only independent, multi-brand services provider with such a test rig.

ZF is establishing additional wind power service centers in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and North America. It also plans to enter the steadily growing wind power markets of China and India.

ZF is one of the world’s leading automotive industry suppliers specializing in driveline and chassis technologies. With a workforce of 60,000 employees, the company operates 123 plants in 27 countries. ZF Group revenues in 2009 totaled euro 9.4 billion. ZF ranks as one of the top-10 automotive industry suppliers worldwide.