Austria: Value Engineering Reduces Material Costs by Up to 25 %

Austrian Greiner Technology & Innovation (GTI) has developed a catalogue of cost-efficient measures which have helped the company achieve a significant decrease in material costs of up to 25 % for common aluminium-framed flat plate collectors with a laser-welded aluminium/copper absorber. GTI applied the value engineering methodology from the automotive sector to solar thermal collectors, which has reduced material costs by 0.05 €/Wp. 

“Every part of the collector - such as frame, back sheet, insulation and absorber - has its primary and secondary functions, which interact with the surrounding components,” Christoph Zipko, Innovation & Technology Manager at GIT, explains the value engineering method. “These functions were thoroughly analysed in order to explore more cost-efficient and simpler technical solutions for each part.”
 
Greiner examined a state-of-the-art flat plate collector and optimised the product regarding material usage and functionality without having to replace major components, such as an aluminium piping register. The analysed 2.54 m² collector had a Solar Keymark certificate, a peak power of 1.871 Wp and an eta 0 of 77.8%. The absorber included meander piping, four connections and a highly selective coating. 
 
“After close collaboration among suppliers, institutes and internal departments, the analysis resulted in a catalogue of measures on how to cut material costs by up to 25% without reducing performance or quality,” Zipko explains. According to the manager, the solutions can, for the most part, be used in other aluminium frame collectors as well, and there are solutions for collectors with tray and wooden frames, too. 
 
The value engineering analysis reduced material use to 36.8 EUR/m² collector area, which resulted in peak power costs of only 0.05 EUR/Wp. 
 
GTI is about to close down its solar collector manufacturing business in Eberstalzell, Austria, a business that the Greiner subsidiary started two years ago by purchasing Austrian collector manufacturer Sun Master in January 2011. “We halted our production of solar thermal collectors in the middle of December,” Wilfried Stock, Head of Corporate Communications at Greiner Holding, confirms. Around 10 employees of the previously 100 staff at Eberstalzell will transfer to Greiner Holding. “It wasn’t possible to avoid layoffs,” Stock says. GTI, however, will continue to focus on research and development in the field of solar thermal. 
 
Greiner Holding, with its head office in Kremsmünster, Austria, is one of the leading foam producers and plastic processing companies for the packaging, furniture, sports and automobile industry. In financial year 2012, Greiner Holding had a turnover of around EUR 940 million and a total workforce of 6,420. 
 
For more information about value engineering, please contact
Christoph Zipko, MBA 
Innovation & Technology Manager
 
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