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Ford Chicago Assembly Plant Cut Water Use By 13 Million Gallons in 2016

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Ford water strategy

Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, responsible for the production of both the Explorer and Taurus, reduced water usage by approximately 13 million gallons in 2016 due in large part to two efficiency-boosting projects.

Ford has revealed the results of Chicago Assembly’s projects—increased reuse of water from its pre-treatment system and a cooling tower side-stream electrolysis system used for water softening.

Ford intends to reduce water use at its global manufacturing facilities by no less than 30% between 2015 and 2020, aiming for the ultimate goal of zero drinkable water being used in its manufacturing processes. Late last year, Ford was granted an “A” grade by CDP for water management, making it one of only 24 around the world to earn top marks.

“It may come as a surprise just how much water automotive plants actually use,” said Rhonda Turner, Chicago Assembly Plant’s environmental control engineer. “Last month alone, we used 17 million gallons, so it’s really beneficial for us to find innovative ways to save water.”

Chicago Assembly’s solutions for its pre-treatment baths and cooling towers have contributed significantly to its efficiency gains. With its pre-treatment baths, meters have been added to prevent overflow and notify paint process engineers immediately if there is a change in the process to prevent unneeded water loss. The cooling tower water treatment program minimizes chemical use by removing calcium and magnesium through electrolysis and allows water to be used longer.

Water use at Chicago Assembly Plant is expected to decrease even further this year; the plant is implementing additional processes in its aspiration to reuse 90% of its pre-treatment water, cutting down on its reliance on city water.