There's a surprising amount of water in pretty much everything – first-gen biofuels, anyone? – and Ford thinks it makes sense to get some of that precious liquid out of the process of making vehicles. Thirty percent, to be exact.

That's the target that Ford recently set for global water reduction, per vehicle, by 2015. It's just the latest in a reduction effort that has been going on since 2000, when the company started its Global Water Management Initiative. Ford claims it's already reduced the water used per vehicle by 49 percent between that year and 2010. The 30 percent reduction target is going to be compared to the company's 2009 levels.

How does the water get cut? By using something called Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) machining (aka dry-machining) and by paying special attention to ways to treat and reuse "wastewater," to cite two examples Ford offers. Dry-machining, "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 end result? Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that don't need to be sent through a Ford factory.

When looked at overall, Ford cut its water use by 62 percent between 2000 and 2010, which equals 10.5 billion gallons. That number can be looked at in a number of ways, including the amount in 15,909 Olympic pools, a billion five-minutes showers and other quirky comparisons that are available after the jump.
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Ford Targets 30 Percent Water Reduction Per Vehicle

New aggressive water strategy calls for global reduction target of 30 percent per vehicle by 2015
Between 2000 and 2010, Ford reduced its global water use by 62 percent, or 10.5 billion gallons; 71 percent in North America
On a per-vehicle basis, global water use decreased by 49 percent between 2000 and 2010; 45 percent in North America

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 30, 2011 – Ford enters 2012 with plans to further reduce the amount of water used to make vehicles and continue showing efficiency is not only inherent in its vehicle lineup, but also in its manufacturing practices.

A new goal calls for Ford to cut the amount of water used to make each vehicle 30 percent globally by 2015, compared with the amount of water used per vehicle in 2009.

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," said 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 percent, or 10.5 billion gallons. That's the equivalent of how much water 105,000 average American residences use annually, based on figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If Ford meets its goal of reducing the amount of water used by 30 percent between 2009 and 2015, the amount of water used to make a vehicle will have dropped from 9.5 cubic meters in 2000 to approximately 3.5 cubic meters in 2015. One cubic meter is equal to 264.2 gallons of water.

Leading by example

When it comes to water, drought and extensive population growth are just two of many challenges in places such as Mexico's Sonoran Desert, home to Ford's Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly Plant. The plant 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 percent.

"We applied innovative technology to our Hermosillo plant to reduce water consumption, minimize impact on the community and build vehicles in a more sustainable manner," said Larry Merritt, manager, Environmental Quality Office.

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 percent 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.

More technology, less water

Another approach is to cut the amount of water necessary to complete a task – a strategy afforded by the use of advanced technologies and processes.

"As we invest in new and existing facilities globally, our water strategy prioritizes sustainable manufacturing technologies," said John Fleming, executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. "This disciplined approach allows us to make significant progress in water reduction and other environmental efforts over time."

For example, several of Ford's engine plants around the world are using Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) machining, also known as dry-machining.

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 U.S., 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.

Tracking success

Before Ford launched the Global Water Management Initiative in 2000, many facilities had little ability to even track water usage. The picture is very different today.

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.

"We recognize that these environmental issues are increasingly important to our stakeholders, including our customers, investors and business partners," said Merritt. "Water conservation is integral to Ford's global sustainability strategy. By reporting our progress, we support positive social change and reduce the environmental impact of our facilities."

# # #

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      Lou Grinzo
      • 3 Years Ago
      A couple of things worth keeping in mind when reading such corporate announcements. First, always distinguish between water withdrawals and water consumption. E.g. a power plant that sucks water out of a river will return a lot of it (albeit much warmer) to the river. The total it sucks in is withdrawal (the amount that has to be available for the plant to run unhindered), the difference between that value and the amount it returns (thanks to evaporation, presumably) is its consumption. Second, companies like to take a very narrow view of their water usage -- they only measure what they use directly, as in the machining processes mentioned above. They also use a huge amount of water indirectly via the water footprint of their electricity consumption and other inputs. Electricity generation withdraws a gigantic amount of water in the US (about 40% of our total, if memory serves), which is why we've seen instances of power plants here (and in the EU) in recent years throttled way back or completely shut down because they've been unable to get sufficient cooling from available water. It's certainly good news that Ford is taking these steps, but we should be careful when trying to judge their importance.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Okay, first, Cheryl Crow - I am going to use more than one square of toilet paper. Get over it. And you, Ford (the motor company, not the guy who posts here)! I am going to take my shower. I will recycle, I will get good gas mileage, I will turn the lights off when I leave a room, have a thermostat that changes the temp 5 times a day to save energy, I will keep my tires propely inflated, but... I will take good showers and use adequate toilet paper! That is all.
        Dave
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        Nice rant. I think youre finally getting into the ABG spirit! ;) But if you read the article, Ford is saying that it will cut its own water use. Ford isn't saying anything about how much water other people use. Theyre just characterizing the amount of water they plan to cut so that it is easier for people to understand. Cheryl Crow, OTOH, is another story. She may be a little nuts, but also, I think this is an anatomical issue. Females tend to use toilet paper (and one square may very well be sufficient, idunno) when they urinate - males do not generally use toilet paper when they urinate. So, I don't think Crow was addressing you at all.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          @Dave, "Young is a relative term."? As I get older, I can't afford to be so choosy as when I was.....oh hell,.. I was never that choosy! :) That's why the good Lord provided alcohol!
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          "Speaking of Cheryl Crow and other young female anatomies...." Young is a relative term.....Sheryl Crow is 10 years older than me. She does, however, have an impressive anatomy, IMHO.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          :D
          Tweaker
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          My wife uses water when she urinates. Is that worse than one square?
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          @Dave Speaking of Cheryl Crow and other young female anatomies,.......... oh...ah, I see, you were actually talking about water conservation......:)
        Naturenut99
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        EZEE, the title combined with what was on the top of the pic could be misleading. The article was definitely about cutting their own use, and comparing how much they were cutting to other uses. ie: showers, Niagra Falls, Olympic size pools, etc... But it's easy to misunderstand these things at times, the inflammatory headlines tend to make it worse. Who knew inflammatory statements get people riled up without giving the actual factual information.?.? Shrug it off... It's ABG after all. Ps. That would be a weird visual seeing guys standing at a urinal. To then take a square of tp to dab...!!! :-)))
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      not making F150s might help cut water usage. when you make lean cars and not 'cars' for the ignorant then it will ring less hollow when you speak of reducing water usage
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        in minor defense of Dan, I was very disappointed that Ford quit on the Ranger. Although I believe in making what sells, I sure as heck dont need a f-150 to tow my boat, or the chores I use my Ranger for. I would actually love to see a true compact truck again. The Tacoma isn't exactly svelte anymore...
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          I really would like o see a compact truck. The transit connect is selling fine...there is a market for smaller, utility vehicles.
          niky
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          The new Ranger (we've seen it) is so much bigger than the old global Ranger and the even older American one that it would be pointless to market it as a "smaller" alternative to the F150. (the only thing that remains smaller is the payload capacity and engine range) Though it would pay for Ford to find a way to use the Asian/European diesel powerplants (small (by American standards) 2.2 and 3.2 liter turbodiesels) in the new F150. Who knows... maybe Ford will eventually see the light and merge the F150/Ranger line.
        Naturenut99
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        There are people who do need pickups. That doesn't mean everybody should drive one. Guess what getting food from farmers on the scale that we do would be impossible. Repairmen need to bring their tools and supplies. And the list goes on. Yes, less people should drive them but when you need one, you need one. Make them more efficient, absolutely! Not make them all the "size of a building", definitely! Many have been asking for the smaller pickups to return. The F-150 used to be smaller than the F-250, now they're basically the same size, just with different limits/capabilities. I'm completely with you one on more efficient and a smaller model to choose from. But to get rid of 100% of them, not a possibility.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Congratulations to Ford Motors. Of course there will always be those whining critic's like DF, who have something negative to say about every real achievement. All these environmentally progressive manufacturing processes help lessen the impact of industry on the environment, without restricting either output or efficiency. Ford Motors have since the resumption of control of Ford Motors by William Clay Ford jnr and the Ford family vigorously pursued this sort of innovation. Some of these environmental initiatives have been adopted as widespread practise throughout US and Western Industrial process. As one of the pioneers of better environmental industrial practise, Ford deserves encouragement for leading by example.
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