Wind catches auto supplier ZF

  • 26-Mar-2010 09:01 EDT
ZF trans remanu.jpg
ZF will do wind turbine transmission repairs at its Vernon Hills, IL, facility, which is also the site of the company's remanufacturing business for its WG Series transmission used in the construction industry.

An automotive supplier with a decades-long history of designing and producing transmissions is gearing up to service existing gearboxes used by wind-energy providers.

Fields of 100-ft (30-m) towers—each with three large blades whirling in the breeze—depict a typical wind farm that can spread across several miles. Although tower height and blade lengths can vary, each wind turbine is fitted with a generator and a transmission. Wind farms harvest electric power, but the companies doing business with wind farms want to power up profits.

With approximately 60% of current revenues coming from its light passenger vehicle business, ZF officials are looking for new income sources.

"We want to diversify our portfolio because we are so dependent on automotive," Julio Caspari, President of ZF Group North America, said in an exclusive interview with AEI.

Expectations are high for the energy sector.

"The growth that we see is so strong, so steep that, we think there is enough room for the players that are in the market, as well as some additional players," said Caspari.

ZF's aftermarket service group will have three global wind energy locations  (Nottingham, England; Vernon Hills, Illinois; and Dortmund, Germany) for servicing wind turbine transmissions.

"There currently are no comparable providers who can offer this standard of technical expertise together with unparalleled reliability and punctuality," said Matthias Benz, Member of the Board of Directors for ZF Service.

ZF's history with designing and producing transmissions dates to 1915, when the company built transmissions for Zeppelin airships in Germany.

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