The new paint and lubrication processes and cooling towers in some Ford Motor’s plants are not about a new aerodynamic insight or cylinders’ parking layout. They are about something a tad boring but basic: Water.
Ford seems to have gone at warp speed when it comes to water-consciousness. In Asia Pacific, Ford and its local partners are trying frantically to gain significant water reduction by implementing new technologies such as its new paint and lubrication processes – saving hundreds of thousands of liters of water per year. In China, Ford reduced water use per vehicle produced by almost 50% compared with 2011, while local partner Changan Ford’s plants recycled and reused nearly 370,000 cubic meters of waste water in 2016.
As to Thailand, Ford has installed filters for cooling tower operations at the company’s joint-venture Auto Alliance Thailand (AAT) last year, which will save around 7,000 cubic meters of water per year, claims the company. Ford Thailand Manufacturing increased its water efficiency by coordinating its fire hydrant testing schedule with its irrigation schedule, saving around 5,000 cubic meters of water per year.
And why? The figures scream ‘why not’. Facts and reasons couldn’t be starker. Nearly 1.8 billion people – or about 25% of the world’s population – don’t have access to safe drinking water as per WHO 2016 estimates, and an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages by 2025 alone from what WWF’s data tells.
If we look at India, more than 81% of adults, well over the global average, say they have changed their behavior as a result of water concerns, according to research conducted for Ford Motor Company as part of the Ford 2017 Trend Report.
Ford shares that it has been changing too in order to address the need to conserve water – and is moving ever closer to its goal of using zero drinking water in the car-making process. In 2016, Ford Asia Pacific used 15% less water to produce each vehicle compared to 2015. That’s enough to fill two bathtubs or 1,000 half-liter bottles of drinking water.
Overall, the company has halved its water usage per vehicle in the region over the past seven years.
“Just as people are changing their mindset and behavior, Ford is too,” says Cynthia Williams, director, Sustainability, Environment, & Safety Engineering, Ford Asia Pacific. “We’re doing our part to conserve water in our plants and support the local communities where we do business to make the most of this precious resource.”
So far, Ford has saved 10 billion gallons of water from 2000 to 2015, a decrease of 61% – enough to fill over 15,000 competition-sized swimming pools. By 2020, Ford has targeted a water usage reduction of 72 per cent when compared to 2000. That roughly means for every one gallon of water Ford used in manufacturing in 2000, it aims to use about one liter by 2020.