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Online Sustainability Report

sustainable products

Conducting business sustainably means taking more responsibility for people and nature at company and product level.

Sustainability in product and technology development is unthinkable without innovation in the company.


Being a development and technology partner to companies around the world, OTTO FUCHS operates in a highly competitive market environment. Digitization and automation, the ongoing development in the direction of sustainable mobility, and the increasing significance of climate protection and resource conservation offer us and our customers attractive opportunities – but also present us with some major challenges.

It is our strategic goal to provide our customers with tailored products and solutions of the highest quality at all times and to assume a leading position in the market. To meet this aspiration, make our core business as economical as possible, and consolidate our company’s sustainability, we continuously improve our processes, materials, and products. We also make systematic investments in our own research and development and in targeted innovation activities. The focus is on the products themselves as well as on materials, production technologies as well as on operating and advancing our plants. We aspire to combining quality and cost-effectiveness with energy and resource efficiency, and to contributing to greater sustainability with our products above and beyond their useful lives. To this end, we cooperate closely with customers and research and development partners in numerous projects.

Awarded since 2016: The innovative Research label "Innovativ durch Forschung"

Within our company, innovation management and pre-series as well as series development are integrated into an overarching systematic process that is controlled centrally by the Research and Development department in Meinerzhagen. Through networking closely and cooperating systematically with the product divisions, we pursue a targeted development roadmap, oriented among other things to strategic goals. While our innovation management focuses strongly on new technologies and forward-looking trends, we introduced a pre-development process and the OTTO FUCHS-specific continuous improvement process years ago for advancing and optimising existing processes and topics. Additionally, OTTO FUCHS encourages all of its employees to independently work on continuously improving product and process quality in their respective departments and teams. Support is provided here in the form of systematic methods and programs like Six Sigma, 6S, and the team-oriented employee maintenance system TOMIS.

„Sustainable thinking and action are now a permanent fixture in our specifications.“

OTTO FUCHS conversations: Dipl.-Ing. (TH) Jörg Ihne, CTO and Head of Research & Development, Dr Lukas Kwiatkowski, Head of Innovation Management and Dr Thomas Witulski, Head of Materials & Processes 

Mr Ihne, Dr Kwiatkowski, Dr Witulski, the demand to develop sustainable products has become something of a buzzword among the general public. As a supplier in the development and series production of products for cars, aircraft or the railways, for example, what can OTTO FUCHS contribute to making "products" more sustainable?

J. Ihne: A significant reduction in CO2 emissions and the associated climate targets can only be achieved through a joint effort that encompasses all sectors of the economy and all energy sectors. In this respect, OTTO FUCHS, as a major supplier to the mobility industry, is naturally also called upon to contribute correspondingly. The decisive levers for ecologically optimising the process chain have now been provided by politics in the form of CO2 pricing, from which new value standards for the development and manufacturing processes at OTTO FUCHS have directly developed. The detailed framework for this is now set by the customers - and our task is to fill out this framework as sustainably as possible through innovatively developing the products and by using resource-saving processes.

L. Kwiatkowski: For us, this has in a sense added the term "climate emissions" to the specifications in the truest sense of the word. Because while sustainability used to result more from our work thanks to lightweight construction typical of OTTO FUCHS with consistent recycling of all internal materials, today it is a clear target definition with the CO2 footprint. However, since customers do not (yet) usually place their orders in a CO2 oriented manner, sustainable development for us primarily means looking at the processes in order to save valuable resources such as energy or materials by making continuous improvements. We have the awareness and the tools required!

T. Witulski: In concrete terms, this means that the CO2 reductions that we have considered and implemented in the past, essentially in-house, will no longer be sufficient in the future. This is because the entire process chain, from ore to electrolysis to recycling of the component at the end of its life cycle, must now be considered. This makes it necessary, for example, to use so-called end-of-life scrap to produce new, high-quality components without any loss of quality - which in turn entails new tasks for materials and process development at OTTO FUCHS that can only be realised in close cooperation with our customers.

L. Kwiatkowski: Our innovation team takes on these important levers directly as a technical challenge and translates them into process improvements. In the end, the focus is not primarily on the added value per kilo of material, but on the holistically considered value, for example of a lightweight handlebar, since we can produce it on the basis of optimised material properties, with identical overall performance, using less material and less energy.

To what extent do the material properties then play an important role for OTTO FUCHS in terms of differentiation?

T. Witulski: The materials used today are already at a very high performance level. That is why improvement must always be seen in the context of the entire process. This combination opens up many new possibilities. Using the example of horizontal casting, we were able to demonstrate that this process is extremely sustainable due to its significantly better CO2 process, if we leverage the full potential by means of optimised material composition and adapted production parameters.

For us, sustainability is not a fashion trend: Properly implemented and consistently lived by all employees, it can be an innovation driver and success factor.

In order to achieve such goals, however, two decisive factors must always be given: the people who design the processes in a sustainable way and the tools to set up the processes in a sustainable manner. How do you see these influencing variables and how they are interrelated?

L. Kwiatkowski: At OTTO FUCHS, a culture of sustainability has definitely been ingrained in the minds of all employees for a long time. Simply because of the self-image that fundamentally prevails in the company due to the fact that we process high-quality and thus expensive materials. As far as the discussions on more sustainability are concerned, about the introduction of energy-saving manufacturing processes, the keywords being: 540 and 300 MN presses, horizontal casting, thanks to impulses such as the OTTO FUCHS battery base for e-vehicles or via the tree-planting campaign, this self-image has now only come more clearly to the fore and is lived even more intensively at all levels. In this context, we in the innovation team see ourselves as a kind of incubator through which the movement is further advanced and accelerated.

J. Ihne: And here everything comes together in research and development, because this is where the OTTO FUCHS philosophy of intensively involving employees in all processes particularly pays off. After all, it is they themselves who know the individual process steps to a very high degree of detail and who, for example, make suggestions on how to lower parts weights, how to reduce work steps or to improve production technology. At the same time, it becomes clear that "thinking sustainability" at OTTO FUCHS is always multi-dimensional - from optimising the materials, which are largely produced in-house, to using production machines specially developed for us, to operating them in the optimal way. These are all factors that we ourselves can control and that we know how to influence very intensively in terms of sustainability.

You have just provided an elegant transition to possible new manufacturing processes that could perhaps make OTTO FUCHS even more sustainable ...

T. Witulski: If the term "manufacturing processes" is understood in the sense of concrete production processes, then on the one hand it applies that we are of course constantly researching for supplementary or substitute processes with which we can offer OTTO FUCHS products at the hallmark high performance level. One highly publicised example of this is 3D printing. With regard to our established materials and manufacturing processes, we must also note that we have achieved a very high level of sustainability here, because they are already very far advanced. But - and this is our challenge now: There are still many small adjustments we can make here, again primarily with the aim of improving the material properties and in this way reducing material use and/or energy consumption.

L. Kwiatkowski: A central approach currently is to digitalise our processes as far as possible. On the one hand, this includes, for example, introducing assistance systems, which we use to ensure an even higher quality level of our products in production, i.e. to avoid failures and thus rejects. As a result, we are talking about self-evident predictive quality based on vital data, with the help of which possible negative trends can already be detected and prevented in the ongoing process before they have "wasteful" effects. On the other hand, with digitalisation we are talking about simulation possibilities, for example involving a digital twin. Thanks to such applications, we can, among other things, assess the mechanical properties of a component before actually producing it, incorporate these results into optimising part weight and then set up the series production with even greater process reliability from the outset with shorter start-up times. And this then represents another measurable contribution to achieving greater sustainability at OTTO FUCHS.

To return to the opening of our interview: So sustainability is anything but a buzzword at OTTO FUCHS in the context of research and development, but has much more to do with strategic future orientation, with innovative strength and even with a certain change in corporate culture?

J. Ihne: You can definitely say that. It is indeed a cultural change, but one that will make the company fit for the challenges of the future in a very concrete way! Together with our customers, our sustainable way of thinking, development and production are setting the course for e-mobility concepts, for example, which on the one hand continue to meet people's comfort requirements, but on the other hand ensure significantly lower CO2 emissions, thereby directly contributing to climate protection. For OTTO FUCHS, sustainability is thus much more than just a social trend, but ultimately means continuing to act with the same responsibility for people and the environment that has shaped our history since the company was founded over 100 years ago!

The digital transformation is a challenge that we face with great confidence.

Dipl.-Ing. (TH) Jörg Ihne has been working at OTTO FUCHS for 27 years and as a member of the Executive Board is responsible for Research & Development. Since the restructuring in 2019, the important future topics of new products, processes and materials, as well as the strategic topics of IT, digitalisation and sustainability, have been promoted together with the Aerospace and Automotive divisions.

Dr Lukas Kwiatkowski has been with OTTO FUCHS for 8 years and is responsible for innovation management in the Research & Development division. 

Dr Thomas Witulski has been with OTTO FUCHS for 23 years and, as an authorised signatory in the Research & Development department, is responsible for the Materials and Processes division. 


The innovative battery carrier system made of connected extruded aluminum profiles is not just about the pure weight as such, but about the novel approach for achieving an optimal range for electric vehicles, which can only be achieved by combining low structural weight plus an optimally heated/cooled battery. Dimensionally accurate, cost-effective and visually appealing: Almost any size is possible thanks to the joining technology patented by OTTO FUCHS.

Forged wheels from OTTO FUCHS stand out thanks to their excellent material properties of forged aluminum compared to cast wheels and enable a weight advantage of 15 percent on average, in some cases even up to 20 percent. This means they help lower the overall weight of a vehicle and significantly reduce CO2 emissions. On average, 0.1 g of CO2 can be saved per kilometer driven and per kilogram of reduced weight.