ZF Friedrichshafen AG has opened a plant for the production of wind turbine gearboxes in Gainesville near Atlanta, Georgia. As of 2012, the company supplies gearboxes of the two-megawatt performance class for Vestas from the new location. "After a phase of economic decline, wind power is reviving" says ZF CEO Hans-Georg Härter. "With our new plant for wind turbine gearboxes in Gainesville, we are right in time." Within the last years, the Friedrichshafen Group collected sufficient experience in the service area for large volume gearboxes. Gainesville is the first ZF production location worldwide where, as of 2012, ZF produces wind turbine gearboxes for the first customer Vestas. After production ramp-up, the plant will offer a production capacity of 1,000 gearboxes per year and 250 jobs. In an expansion stage, production can be increased to 1,500 gearboxes per year.
"As a leading automotive supplier, we can rely on product and process know-how that was developed over decades. Therefore, we distinguish ourselves from our competitors", says Dr. Michael Paul, member of the board of management for the Industrial Technology Division that also includes the Wind Power Technology Business Unit. The new plant in Gainesville will cover the North American market where Vestas has large production capacities. The aim is to establish ZF as worldwide leading manufacturer in this sector. With the intended acquisition of Hansen, the Belgian wind turbine gearbox manufacturer, the ZF Group wants to tap the important wind power markets in Asia and Europe.
The whole plant with a production area of about 24,000 square meters is focused on a sustainable and resource-saving production. Saving energy and the protection of the environment are at the center of attention. Also, the product itself, the Atlas 1 wind turbine gearbox developed by ZF in the two-megawatt performance class, is designed in accordance with energetic criteria. Special longevity and serviceability are part of the major product characteristics.