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Ford Shares Environmental Management Best Practices with Suppliers

Ford PACEFord has expanded an environmental reporting tool for its suppliers that the automaker says will help them save money and shrink their environmental impact.

The program, which highlights Ford’s best practices for reducing energy use and carbon emissions as well as improving water management, is called Partnership for A Cleaner Environment, or PACE. Ford launched it today at the G7 Alliance Forum on Resource Efficiency workshop in Washington, DC.

The G7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and United States — last year formed the G7 Alliance on Resource Efficiency to provide a forum for participants to share best practices and innovations with businesses and public agencies.

Ford’s PACE reporting tool is not publicly available.

Ford began testing PACE in 2014, and has expanded the program to include 25 suppliers representing 800 manufacturing sites in 41 countries. The automaker shares its best practices, and works to make tracking success easy for its suppliers by offering statistical analysis to help participants monitor progress toward goals. In return, suppliers share their environmental data and their best practices with Ford.

Mary Wroten, Ford’s senior manager of supply chain sustainability, won’t say how much money in total the best practices have saved the company. But they have helped Ford reduce its water and energy use, which correlates to lower utility bills and subsequent savings.

“Since 2000, Ford has invested more than $250 million in plant and facility energy-efficiency upgrades,” Wroten told Environmental Leader. “In 2013 alone, Ford invested more than $5 million in energy-efficiency projects and significant energy-related upgrades were included in our global manufacturing system upgrades.”

Wroten says Ford is implementing several heat recovery projects from paint oven exhaust stacks, air recirculation systems, and in paint spray booths by incorporating heat pump technology. “These heat recovery projects currently underway in several of our European facilities will deliver around 150 gigawatt-hours of energy savings per year from 2015 onward, with an estimated savings of 3.75 million Euros at typical electricity rates.”

The company has also implemented a number of water-reduction technologies and process improvements. “Ford has accomplished substantial reductions by cutting water use in everything from cooling towers to washing parts to paint operations,” Wroten says.

These including using membrane biological reactors and reverse-osmosis processes to recycle water from on-site wastewater treatment plants, which allows the company to avoid using drinking water in our manufacturing processes.

Ford also uses a “dry-machining” process to lubricate cutting tools with a very small amount of oil, rather than the conventional “wet-machining” process that requires large amounts of metal-working fluids and water to cool and lubricate the tools. Ford says this process can save more than 280,000 gallons of water per year.

Ford’s 3-Wet Paint technology consolidates painting activities in an integrated booth, which can eliminate one booth water wash section, depending on plant design. It also saves the electricity used by the blowers that are typically needed to circulate air through paint booths, and reduces the amount of natural gas needed to heat the air and ovens. This all reduces CO2 emissions by 15 to 25 percent and volatile organic compound emissions by 10 percent, compared to either conventional high-solids solvent-borne or waterborne systems, Ford says.

These and other water management technologies and practices helped Ford achieve its goal — two years early — of reducing water use per vehicle by 30 percent by 2015 using a 2009 baseline.

Ford says its suppliers can implement similar practices and achieve operational savings by participating in PACE.

“We are committed to expanding our stewardship with our global suppliers to help minimize our environmental impact more broadly,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford group vice president, global purchasing, in a statement. “By sharing our practices and our processes at the G7 Alliance on Resource Efficiency workshop, we hope to foster innovation and collaboration to address sustainability-related issues and advance environmental responsibility.”

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