Five questions to Jens Schüler

Five questions to Jens Schüler

Sustainability in the aftermarket

Jens Schüler
Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket
President Global Sales & Marketing

With growing concerns about climate change and environmental degradation, sustainability has become a strategic priority for the automotive industry and the automotive aftermarket as well. How does Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket contribute to it?

For suppliers, sustainability in the Automotive Aftermarket is currently being shaped by four important aspects: the production footprint of our systems, kits and components, the purpose of the product we sell, the logistics footprint and the contribution to reduce waste. In order to reduce the environmental impact of its products, the Schaeffler Group is increasingly focusing on the topic of circular economy and is preparing life cycle assessments (LCA). This makes the ecological impact of a product transparent over its entire life cycle and allows measures for improvement to be derived.

The Automotive Aftermarket Division is responsible for Schaeffler’s global aftermarket business and supplies resource efficient repair solutions of OEM quality. Our business model supports vehicles to be roadworthy and compliant to the latest environmental regulations throughout the entire lifecycle. Thanks to our global footprint and in close partnership with our customers, we are able to deliver state-of-the-art repair solutions as local as possible that support to extend the life cycle of the vehicles. This means that we concretely contribute to the sustainability targets from both ends of the spectrum. For this reason, the sustainability is a fundamental part of our strategy.

We at Schaeffler think that high-quality repair solutions for hybrid vehicles are a key element of a holistic mobility shift. The technical challenges here are diverse and complex: For example, hybrid cars with P0 drive systems have an electric motor in the belt drive in addition to the classic combustion engine. The 48-volt mild hybrid technology plays a central role in transforming the FEAD system from a power consumer into a power supplier. With the INA FEAD KIT, we are the first supplier in the aftermarket offering a repair solution for hybrid vehicles with 48 volts. We are very well equipped for the repair of current and future hybrid vehicle generations and are constantly expanding our portfolio. This also includes other hybrid variants such as full hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

  • How do sustainability and resource conservation affect part quality?

Quality and environmental protection go hand in hand. Our spare parts meet sustainability requirements because they are of very high quality. They not only extend service intervals, but also decisively increase the overall service life and mobility of vehicles.

In addition, we aim to offer our customers holistic solutions through various industry partnerships within the automotive aftermarket ecosystem. We also believe that active shaping of the legal and political framework environment are key to ensure a lasting impact. For this reason, we have been actively engaged for close to ten years in several associations like CLEPA, or APRA who actively push for better regulatory conditions to ensure a circular economy in our industry, specifically on Remanufacturing.  

  • Hybrids and electric vehicles naturally require different technical support. What matters in the future?

The increasing technical complexity and connectivity of vehicles require innovative repair solutions, the development of new business models and supporting services. Our goal is to make it easier to diagnose defects and support or simplify the repair process with data-based services. By adding data-based services and innovative plug & play repair solutions to our portfolio, we are continuing our evolution from a component supplier to a provider of systems and integrated solutions.

Under the Schaeffler brand REPXPERT, we offer technical support for workshops as well as for the repair and maintenance of vehicles of all brands and segments. Our customers also receive new services that support workshops in identifying and ordering spare parts – with the aim of having the right part available as quickly as possible. We are working consistently on further digital solutions to make the diagnosis of defects easier and to support or simplify the repair process with data-based services. One of these is the REPXPERT APP. Comprehensive product information, valuable tips such as tightening torques, working values, access to the TecDoc catalog or repair instructions are just some of the functions and contents of the new REPXPERT

Our main carbon footprint comes from efficient logistics. For example, our new Aftermarket Kitting Operation (AKO) in Halle an der Saale, Germany, is one important piece in the decarbonization of our supply chain. It is state-of-the-art in building ecology, efficiency, technologies and processes and makes a significant contribution to optimize our supply chain and improve the delivery performance of Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket in Europe. The goal is to supply our customers as quickly and reliably as possible at all times. The early performance operation started in August 2020. The AKO will not only supply European regional warehouses with spare parts and repair solutions, but also customers in Central Europe. The aim is to process up to 5,000 internal transport orders per hour in the future. The associated reduction in transports between the sites and the higher utilization of transport capacities will lead to a CO2 reduction of more than 2,500 tons per year. Moreover, the AKO reduces minus three percent of packaging materials and can reuse 100 percent internal loading equipment.