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Ford targeting 30% reduction in water used per vehicle by 2015

Ford plans to cut the amount of water used to make each vehicle 30% globally by 2015, compared with the amount of water used per vehicle in 2009. If Ford meets the 30% goal, the amount of water used to make a vehicle will have dropped from 9.5 m3 (2,510 gallons US) in 2000 to approximately 3.5 m3 (925 gallons US) in 2015.

Ford is also developing year-over-year efficiency targets as part of its annual environmental business planning process and has established a cross-functional team spanning several divisions to review water usage more holistically.

Water remains one of our top environmental priorities and our aggressive reduction target helps ensure continued focus on this critical resource.

—Sue Cischke, group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering

Ford’s latest water reduction initiatives are designed to build on the success the company has had with its Global Water Management Initiative that launched in 2000. Between 2000 and 2010, Ford reduced its global water use by 62%, or 10.5 billion gallons (the equivalent of how much water 105,000 average American residences use annually, based on figures from the US Environmental Protection Agency).

Reducing water use. Ford’s Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico produces the Ford Fusion, Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ. Production at Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant doubled between 2000 and 2010. However, water usage at the plant dropped during the same period by 40%.

To reduce water use, a membrane biological reactor—a biological water treatment system—was installed. The complex system is able to make up to 65% of the plant’s wastewater suitable for high-quality reuse elsewhere in the facility or for irrigation. The water treatment system also is being used at Ford plants in Chennai, India and Chongqing, China.

Another approach Ford is using is to cut the amount of water necessary to complete a task. For example, several of Ford’s engine plants around the world are using Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) machining, also known as dry-machining.

As we invest in new and existing facilities globally, our water strategy prioritizes sustainable manufacturing technologies. This disciplined approach allows us to make significant progress in water reduction and other environmental efforts over time.

—John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs

This technology lubricates the cutting tool with a very small amount of oil sprayed directly on the tip in a finely atomized mist, instead of with a large quantity of coolant/water mixture. The process saves hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and oil per year. By eliminating the coolant/water mixture, dry-machining eliminates the need to treat and dispose of an oily waste stream.

Dry-machining also is delivering significant benefits in energy use, waste production, quality, working conditions and costs. For a typical 450,000-unit line, more than 280,000 gallons of water can be saved annually.

In the US, the dry-machining system has been implemented at Ford’s Livonia Transmission Plant, Van Dyke Transmission Plant and Romeo Engine Plant. Ford also has implemented the system at a number of transmission and engine plants in Europe and applications in other plants around the world currently are being considered.

Measuring and tracking. Before Ford launched the Global Water Management Initiative in 2000, many facilities had little ability to even track water usage. When the initiative started, Ford engineers developed software to predict water usage. Another kind of software was developed to track water use at each facility and generate a monthly report so successes and potential opportunities for improvement could be identified.

Also, water reduction actions are built into Ford’s Environmental Operating System (EOS), which provides a standardized, streamlined approach to meeting all environmental requirements, including sustainability objectives and targets within each of Ford’s plants around the world.

EOS allows Ford to track its plants’ performance of fundamental water reduction actions such as leak identification and repair, and cooling tower optimization at every manufacturing site worldwide.

Further, Ford’s progress against its water reduction target will be communicated in the company’s annual sustainability report and through participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Water Disclosure, which Ford joined in 2010—the first automaker to do so.

CDP Water Disclosure serves as a central clearinghouse for Ford and other participating companies to report on water usage, water risks and water management plans of company operations and their supply chains.



It's uplifting that "Ford’s Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico produces the Ford Fusion, Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ. Production at Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant doubled between 2000 and 2010. However, water usage at the plant dropped during the same period by 40%."

That's a 100% water savings for US auto workers..


It is of course nice that they use less water. But let us not ignore the big picture:

Automakers should concentrate on pushing their fleet average mileage average (as prescribed by the CAFE standard) from the current requirement of 24.1 mpg, which is horrifically bad, to a much more aggressive number such as 50 mpg. The technology exists, and for about $4000 it should be quite doable. Just make all 4-cyl clean-diesel/electric hybrids and we would be there in a year or two.

But instead we are going to see the domestic automakers trudging along with CAFE, and getting nowhere near 50mpg anytime soon.

And that does not even take into account that real-life MPG (and EPA/window sticker MPG) is significantly lower than CAFE.

Upshot: CAFE is not nearly aggressive enough, and saving some water is nice but just a drop in the bucket.

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