Saline, Mich. - Facilities Engineer Leo Zanese, along with the Saline Plant's Powerhouse team and the local UAW 892 skilled trades, has been the driving force behind many changes to Automotive Components Holdings (ACH) Saline Plant's water usage reduction that has saved 122 million gallons of water amounting to more than $1.6 million dollars in water and sewage costs during the past 15 years.
When Zanese started managing the plant's water bill in 2004, he noticed the plant was using around 130 gallons of water per minute. Much of this water was needlessly being sent to drain when it could easily and cost-effectively be recycled.
Three main actions were taken to reduce the plant's water costs.
The first was to re-arrange the piping of the plant's cooling tower's two large water strainers. Previously, water used to backwash these strainers was sent to drain. The re-piping took the backwash water from the two strainers and redirected it through a secondary filter, allowing the reuse of this backwash water instead of sending it to drain.
The second action involved changing the plant's use of City of Saline water as a single-pass cooling medium to the use of cooling tower water in numerous refrigeration units in the plant.
Single-pass cooling is when the cooling water (in the case, City of Saline water) used to cool the refrigerant equipment is not reused, but instead discharged to drain. To eliminate this waste, Zanese piped in water from the cooling towers. In this method, the slightly heated cooling water discharged from the refrigeration units is directed back to the cooling towers to be cooled down and reused over and over again.
Finally, the third action Zanese implemented was his work with the City of Saline officials and local engineering experts to eliminate the plant from being charged by the city for sewage fees for water evaporated from the cooling tower.
According to Zanese, "Cooling towers by design cool water by evaporation. Water utilities typically charge their customers for water provided and water sewage costs. Subsequently, the City of Saline, after review by an independent local engineering firm concurred that a monthly credit was due to the Saline Plant since a substantial amount of cooling tower water was in fact being evaporated and therefore not send back to the city's waste treatment facility." The plant now saves up to $45,000 per year by the elimination of these sewage fees.
Zanese has been working as a facilities engineer at Saline since 1981, and has always had a passion for water systems. These achievements have not only saved the Saline Plant millions of dollars in water costs, but it has also created a sustainable method of recycling water.
The Automotive Components Holdings (ACH) Saline Plant is a 1.6 million-square-foot facility operating on 189-acres of land. ACH is a Ford Motor Company managed temporary business formed in 2005. The Saline Plant produces plastics and trim components including instrument panels, consoles and door panels.