Ford India closes in on target of zero fresh water use in manufacturing

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 22 Mar 2021


The Ford EcoSport assembly line at the Chennai plant.

Today is World Water Day. Do you know that of all the water on the planet, only about one percent is easily accessible fresh surface water available for consumption by the almost eight billion humans that inhabit it? Approximately 97 percent is salt water, while the majority of remaining fresh water is frozen in ice caps and glaciers, or difficult to access ground water.

Two decades ago, Ford set out to reduce its per-vehicle water usage by an astonishing 72 percent. By 2013, Ford says it had already saved more than 10 billion gallons of water. That’s the same as 15,000 competition-sized swimming pools, or over 3 hours 40 minutes of thunderous Niagara Falls flow.

While an admirable target, Ford says it sought to do more, setting itself an aspirational long-term goal of using zero fresh water in its manufacturing. That target is still in Ford’s sights, and the company has already made considerable steps towards ensuring that the only fresh water use at its facilities is for human consumption.

At Ford’s Chennai Vehicle Assembly and Engine Plant (CVAEP), fresh water consumption is down to an incredible 1.17 cubic metres per vehicle – from 7.3 cubic metres per vehicle only a decade ago. Having identified an alternate source of grey water to treat for use in non-production activities, the smart water efficiency processes see it recycle almost 100 per cent of industrial waste water for use in manufacturing.

Ford’s Sanand Vehicle Assembly & Engine Plant in Gujarat has zero water discharge, with an 110,000 cubic metres rain water harvesting pond used for pallet washing, irrigation, and with plans in place to replace the cooling tower’s water with rainwater, too.

Ford’s Global Business Technology & Business Center in Chennai (GTBC) can also claim zero discharge, thanks to its 100 percent reuse of treated wastewater for dual plumbing, horticulture, and cooling tower chiller. Ford GTBC – opened in 2019 – earned its Platinum green building rating at launch; the highest possible certification for sustainable buildings.

The globally recognised certificate not only factors in water conservation but also sustainable design, architecture, and building material resources; energy conservation including use of renewable energy resources; indoor environment quality; and innovation and development. Similar efforts have been put in across Ford’s other manufacturing units globally.

World Water Day, celebrated annually on March 22 since 1993, raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe drinking water.