Ford Continues to Reduce Water Use in Assembly Plants


tFord Motor Co. plans to nearly double the number of its plants using dry machining capability as it continues to work toward cutting water use by 30 percent per vehicle by 2015. Currently, the automaker has six facilities that use near-dry machining, or MQL, which reduces water and oil use needed in conventional wet machining.

tFor a typical production line, MQL can save more than 280,000 gallons of water per year, or enough to fill 5,600 average-sized bathtubs. Cologne Engine Plant in Germany decreased water use per engine by 50 percent from 2011 to 2012 by switching to the MQL process.  

t“Reducing the environmental footprint of our plants is a critical part of Ford’s overall sustainability commitment,” says Andrew Hobbs, director of Ford’s environmental quality office. “Expanding new processes such as MQL across our global network of facilities allows us to have an even greater impact.”

tMQL also reduces the amount of oil needed to machine an engine or transmission 80 percent or more, to approximately 100 milliliters, or about half the size of an average drinking glass. Without the need for a coolant system across most engine production lines, MQL also helps to reduce energy use. While conventional wet machining produces an airborne mist, MQL eliminates that mist, improving air quality in the plant.

tPlants that have switched to the MQL process include:

  • ttChangan Ford Engine Plant (China)
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  • ttCraiova Engine Plant (Romania)
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  • ttCologne Engine Plant (Germany)
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  • ttLivonia Transmission Plant (Michigan)
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  • ttRomeo Engine Plant (Michigan)
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  • ttVan Dyke Transmission Plant (Michigan)

t“MQL technology will also be incorporated into future engine and transmission plants, underscoring our commitment to advanced manufacturing processes that reduce water and resource requirements,” says Bill Russo, director of manufacturing for Ford powertrain operations.

tBetween 2000 and 2012, Ford officials say they have reduced global water use by 62 percent, or about 10 billion gallons.