Ford has successfully implemented many water savings initiatives across our plants to minimize our water footprint. Wherever possible, we take successful projects and mirror them in other locations. Our newest plants use a set of advanced and environmentally friendly technologies to dramatically cut water use.
In 2004, we opened the rebuilt Dearborn Truck Plant at the Ford Rouge Center as a model of sustainable manufacturing. The facility incorporates extensive natural storm water management systems and what was then the largest green roof in the world. As we invest in new and existing facilities globally, we have been building on what we learned at the Ford Rouge Center and implementing other sustainable manufacturing technologies that use water more efficiently and provide environmental benefits.
We have implemented a reverse-osmosis process to recycle water in a number of our production plants, allowing us to avoid using high-quality water suitable for human consumption in our manufacturing processes. We also employ an innovative parts-washing system to reduce wastewater and cut energy consumption.
And, we have looked to new technologies, including a process known as “dry-machining” that lubricates cutting tools with a fine spray of oil, rather than the conventional “wet-machining” that required large amounts of metal-working fluids and water to cool and lubricate the tools. For a typical production line, dry-machining – also known as Minimum Quantity Lubrication, or MQL, machining – can save more than 280,000 gallons of water per year. Our engine plant in Cologne, Germany, for example, decreased water use per engine by 50 percent from 2011 to 2012 by switching to the MQL process.
In Pretoria, South Africa, we began using a new $2.5 million on-site wastewater treatment plant at the Silverton Assembly Plant that is increasing the amount of water that can be reused by up to 15 percent.
Our Chennai (India) Assembly Plant installed a new system that allows the plant to recycle 100 percent of its water. And two assembly plants in Chongqing, China, added advanced water treatment equipment to improve recycling. One plant recycles an average of 100,000 gallons daily, while the other recycles an average of 65,000 gallons daily.
Many of these new systems require substantial capital investments, so we have been adding them on a rolling basis as we update equipment and bring new facilities online. Our water strategy puts primary emphasis on our plants located in areas of water scarcity.
We have come a long way since we began our water conservation initiative in 2000. Back then, many of our facilities had little ability to even track their water usage. When the initiative started, our engineers developed patented software – called the Water Estimation Tool (or WET) – to predict water usage. Another kind of software was developed to track water use at each facility and generate a monthly report that would identify successes and potential opportunities for improvement.
We began building reduction actions into our Environmental Operating System (EOS), which provides a globally standardized, streamlined approach to meeting all environmental requirements, including sustainability objectives and targets. The EOS allows us to track basic water-reduction actions, such as cooling tower optimization, at every manufacturing site worldwide.
In 2012, we conducted water assessment pilot projects at two assembly plants in the U.S. and one in Cologne, Germany. We hired an outside consultant to review the facilities with fresh eyes to map the water usage at the plants. In 2013, we expanded the water assessments to include a plant in each of our four global regions. We will be assessing the results to determine what measures we could take to reduce water and save our Company money at the same time.
Also in 2013, we will be holding a “water futuring” workshop to help us understand future scenarios for our Company related to water.
For a typical production line, Minimum Quantity Lubrication machining can save 280,000+ gallons of water per year.