ZF Wind Power to make 135 job cuts

BELGIUM: Gearbox maker ZF Wind Power has announced it is to cut 15% of its Belgian workforce as part of a restructuring exercise to help reduce costs and improve market share.

A Hansen 6MW gearbox on a test rig
A Hansen 6MW gearbox on a test rig

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In a statement the company said it was working on a series of cost reduction initiatives. This includes a headcount reduction of 135 (15% of the Belgian workforce). It did not reveal how the cuts would be spread across the division.

Speaking about the move, Jan Willem Ruinemans, chief executive of ZF Wind Power, said: "The wind gearbox market is confronted with overcapacity. The cost saving initiatives that we are implementing, as part of our reorganisation programme, are difficult but necessary actions in this competitive market."

Formerly Hansen Transmissions, the Belgian company was formally sold by Suzlon to ZF in October 2011 for EUR 520 million. But like much of the industry, there is a lot of extra capacity in the gearbox sector.

At the time, Hansen's 7.6GW/year manufacturing capacity added to ZF's 3GW in the US to give a total output capability of around 11GW a year.

The deal brought it into line with Siemens-owned gearbox supplier Winergy, which has 10-12GW of output capacity a year. The only other competitor of similar size is the Chinese High Speed Transmission Equipment Group, which has an output capacity of 12GW.

However, the combined output of the three companies is close to the overall 44GW global installation figure for 2012.

In January, gearbox manufacturer Moventas completed staff negotiations over temporary layoffs at its production facilities in Finland.

Moventas revealed it was planning to make the layoffs at the beginning of the year. At the time, it said it this was due to market conditions.

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