Walking a carbon dioxide emission-free truck factory

Touring Volvo Trucks’ Tuve truck plant


 

I’m one of those truck industry journalists that truly enjoys touring vehicle, equipment and component manufacturing plants. I’m fascinated by what goes on inside them.

Thanks to Volvo Trucks, I had the opportunity to travel to Sweden, and among other things, got to tour Volvo’s Tuve Truck Plant in Gothenburg.

The 1,194,795-square foot plant manufactures Volvo FH, FH16 and Volvo FM cabover models. There are some 1,200 workers at the plant, of which, I noticed during the tour, a good percentage are women.

Each working day, the Tuve plant builds 50 trucks, plus 40 knockdown kits, on two assembly lines. Every 4-1/2 minutes a truck comes off the line.

As with truck plants in the U.S., the process of manufacturing a truck from beginning to end takes place at a number of different stations in the factory, with one team at each station.

The first step in Tuve plant’s production process is when the large coils of cold-rolled steel that have been shipped to the plant are pressed into a U-shape, cut, stamped and machined into finished frame rails. This is followed by assembly, a test drive on rolling road facilities inside the plant and then a final pre-deliver inspection.

 

Environmental care

Because environmental care is one of Volvo’s core values - the others are safety and quality - the Tuve production plant has devised an action package to environmentally optimize the facility. This includes a total ban on the use of fossils fuels (oil, coal and gas) for heating and power supply in the plant.

Instead, heating and electrical supply are handled via a biofuel power plant and five wind power stations.

The result, I was informed, is the world’s first vehicle factory with absolutely no emissions of carbon dioxide.

 

Truck cabs

The plant gets its cabs from Volvo Trucks’ cab factory in Umeå in northern Sweden.

I learned that due to considerable environmental improvements over the past several years, the factory’s paint shop is the world’s cleanest and most energy-efficient paint shop.