COLOGNE, Germany – Two years ago Ford Motor Company announced ambitious plans to slash the amount of energy it takes to produce each vehicle by 25 per cent before 2016. Today the company is well on course to achieve its target thanks to the introduction of an Energy Management Operating System (EMOS).
“So far Ford has achieved 10 per cent of the planned 25 per cent energy savings throughout Europe”, says Richard Douthwaite, Head of the Ford Land Energy Efficiency Team that supports EMOS in terms of content and technology. “We want not only to reduce energy consumption in the short term but also keep it at a low level long-term – and with a constant volume production.”
“Doing the same for less” is the motto emblazoned on the Ford Land Energy Efficiency Team flag. EMOS is helping to deliver just that by driving investment in modern production facilities and manufacturing processes.
EMOS also highlights the importance of shutting production machinery during weekends and holidays, and it encourages staff to switch off computers and the lights at the end of the working day.
Plant Energy Teams have been installed at all Ford production facilities in Europe to implement EMOS and encourage people to buy into the EMOS ethos.
“The biggest challenge is the development of a monitoring system, with which data on energy consumption would be collected electronically and made available to all Ford employees”, says Douthwaite.
In the Cologne Ford plants, a data documentation pilot project has been launched with similar schemes also being introduced in Valencia, Bridgend and Saarlouis. It enables energy consumption comparisons to be made not only with other Ford locations, but also with the competition.
In Germany, where the energy prices are particularly high, the savings potential is enormous. In the Ford plant in Cologne alone, about 50 gigawatt hours have been saved since the beginning of EMOS. A new heat recovery systems installed in the paintshop in October 2013, where car bodies are dried at temperatures of up to 150 degrees Celsius, has reduced energy consumption by 2600 megawatt hours in the last three months alone.
“That's about 100,000 euros which Ford has saved already”, says Daniel Schulz, Project Planner for energy efficiency in the paintshop. “Traditionally, the paintshop is the largest energy consumer within the vehicle manufacturing sector. The warm waste air from the paint dryers was previously simply pumped into the atmosphere, rather than using the energy contained in it.
With the new heat recovery systems, energy is fed back into the grid through heat exchangers and used to reheat water for other processes in the paintshop. Two such systems are already in use and a third will be put into operation soon.
Every 72 hours, the plants are checked by a boiler attendant. In addition to this, the power consumption can be tracked online.
“The Ford-Niehl energy monitoring system is an online platform where the energy-related data is collected and analysed,” says Rainer Jungblut, Area Head of Painting in Cologne. “Furthermore, best practice examples, checklists for the shut-down processes and other helpful information about energy efficiency are located on a specially set-up SharePoint.”
Other projects aimed at saving energy include compressed air dryers, which remove the moisture from the compressed air, improving paint quality. These replace previous dryers dating back to 1986, saving about 210,000 euros per year.
“An important environmental aspect is also the use of robots on the painting line”, Jungblut adds. “If the paint is applied manually by hand, 80 percent of it ends up in the waste water and only 20 percent on the actual car body, while the reverse is true with the highly automated process.”
Energy-saving projects such as heat recovery systems are also being developed in other Ford plants, for example in Saarlouis. So can Ford achieve that 25 per cent reduction target before 2016?
“Ford Europe has already exceeded by two percent the 2013 target of reducing energy consumption by eight percent”, Douthwaite says. “To save a quarter of the energy by 2016 is by no means an unrealistic goal to which every individual Ford employee can contribute.”
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