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ZF implements the LiftLiner® to improve efficiency and reduce TCO

ZF adopts the LiftLiner for their largest factory in Saarbrücken which is dedicated to fully-electric drives production.

ZF – SEE, THINK, ACT drives their business successfully

ZF is a global technology company supplying systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology, enabling the next generation of mobility. ZF allows vehicles to see, think and act. In the four technology domains of Vehicle Motion Control, Integrated Safety, Automated Driving, and Electric Mobility, ZF offers comprehensive product and software solutions for established vehicle manufacturers and newly emerging transport and mobility service providers. ZF electrifies a wide range of vehicle types. With its products, the company contributes to reducing emissions, protecting the climate and enhancing safe mobility. With some 165,000 employees worldwide, ZF reported sales of €43.8 billion in fiscal 2022. The company operates 168 production locations in 32 countries.


Who is ZF Saarbrücken and what were their logistic challenges?

ZF Saarbrücken is one of the biggest production plants within the ZF Group and the biggest employer in the Saarland with approximately 10,000 employees. The ZF plant in Saarbrücken is the global lead location for the successful 8-speed automatic transmission. It supports production start-ups at foreign locations of the Electrified Powertrain Technology division.

During its many years of operation, the company has focused on optimizing material flows, taking a holistic approach to enhance each stage of its supply chain.

A key focus has been on reducing the Total Cost of Ownership, driving ZF’s initiatives toward greater operational excellence. In 2017, when discussions between ZF and K.Hartwall commenced, ZF’s existing process relied on swift L-Stackers capable of handling six units simultaneously. However, operational efficiency was hindered by the necessity for additional Material Handling Equipment, such as pallet jacks, alongside the L-Stackers. ZF recognized the need to streamline this process, aligning with Lean Management principles to eliminate redundant handling steps and enhance overall efficiency.


The implementation

First, ZF conducted tests to assess the handling and the efficiency of the proposed solution. With plans for a new assembly line underway, they transitioned directly to the LiftLiner® tugger train solution. The test run yielded positive results, both in terms of the handling of the electric tugger train LiftLiner® and of the load carriers manufactured by K.Hartwall. It became evident that the LiftLiner® outperformed the previous system in terms of speed. Consequently, ZF made the decision to choose the LiftLiner®, supported by a positive ROI calculation and favourable feedback from the operators.

ZF transports load carriers weighing up to 800kg, operating the tugger trains in three shifts, six days a week. They implemented the milk run operation with the LiftLiner® in 2021, significantly easing the daily workload for operators. This transition not only saved time for individual transports but also enhanced the ergonomics for employees. Furthermore, the exceptional customer service provided by K.Hartwall, combined with their premium partnership with Jungheinrich, offered ZF robust support throughout the entire project.

The core benefits of the system for ZF:

  • Reliable material flow with the necessary capacity
  • Easy loading and unloading
  • Excellent ergonomics due to the electric tilting unloading
  • Improved safety for workers


The next step
ZF plan to expand the implementation gradually and increase the utilization of tugger trains over time and we, at K.Hartwall look very much forward supporting them with it.


Frank Krug
Key Account Manager DACH, Lean

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