Ford Reduces Water And Oil Use In Plants Globally

As part of its commitment to sustainability, Ford Motor Company has added dry machining capability to six plants globally.

The company said this number will nearly double in the next few years.

Near-dry machining, also known as Minimum Quantity Lubrication or MQL, is a process that lubricates cutting tools with a fine spray of oil exactly when and where it is needed.

In comparison, conventional wet machining floods the part with metal-working fluids, requiring large amounts of fluid to cool and lubricate the tools used to make engines and transmissions.

Ford explained for 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. The Cologne Engine Plant in Germany decreased water use per engine by 50 percent from 2011 to 2012 by switching to the MQL process.

“Reducing the environmental footprint of our plants is a critical part of Ford’s overall sustainability commitment,” said 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.”

Per Ford, MQL 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.

Ford’s plants that have switched to the MQL process include:

  • Changan Ford Engine Plant (China)
  • Craiova Engine Plant (Romania)
  • Cologne Engine Plant (Germany)
  • Livonia Transmission Plant (Michigan)
  • Romeo Engine Plant (Michigan)
  • Van Dyke Transmission Plant (Michigan)

“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,” said Bill Russo, director of manufacturing for Ford powertrain operations.

Ford said it continues to work toward cutting water use 30 percent per vehicle by 2015. Between 2000 and 2012, Ford reduced global water use by 62 percent – about 10 billion gallons.