Windsor engine plants earn environmental honors
Finding ways to cut energy costs is not merely the "green" thing to do, it can also be cost efficient.
Two Ford Motor Company engine factories in Windsor, Ontario—Windsor Engine and Essex Engine recently earned Ford Environmental Leadership Awards for spectacular savings in energy and cost.
Ford’s Windsor Engine Plant saved nearly $1 million when the plant’s crankshaft department successfully eliminated a natural gas-fired oven that had been used in a tempering process.
“This is an all around benefit for Ford Motor Company, the plant, the environment and the public,” said Cassie Mayrand-Burney, Ford environmental compliance engineer. “It is a huge cost savings that has led to a leaner process, reduction of a non-renewable resource and a decrease in emissions.”
According to the plant’s Environmental Engineer Robert Belanger, the crankshaft department is now able to harden V8 and V10 crankshaft parts through self-tempering. Instead of using heat from active natural gas ovens, self-tempering eliminates the need for natural gas tempering ovens.
Eliminating this process also decreases Windsor’s energy consumption and carbon emissions, including suspended particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide.
Belanger said. “Windsor Engine Plant’s Environmental Policy is to strive for continuous improvement in environmental performance,” Belanger said.
All crankshaft and tempering were tested in house and the project was undertaken by a cross-functional team supported by Ford’s 6-Sigma program.
The process change also alleviates Windsor Engine Plant from one of its furnace air permit requirements, since those furnaces are no longer in use.
Ford of Canada’s Essex Engine Plant faced a different, but costly problem when its normal use of hydraulic oil and coolant spiked inexplicably. The Windsor, Ontario facility called on a 6-Sigma team. The fluids are essential in the equipment that makes crankshafts.
A cross-functional team at Essex evaluated the problem, found a solution and took corrective action in just one week. As a result, Essex Engine is saving $22,000 or more a month.
“The results exceeded our expectations,” said Lynn Jones, lead on the 6-Sigma Kaizen project. “Arriving at the solution was like turning on a light, and it proved to be a simple thing.”
It turns out that hydraulic oil was leaking into V6 crankshaft equipment, contaminating the coolant used in the cutting and drilling process. Known as "tramp oil," the tainted coolant compromises the operation of equipment.
By fixing the problem, the team reduced oil usage by 70 percent and coolant by 72 percent. The plant was also able to shut down two 60-horsepower pumps, used to skim oil and reduced the amount of oily wastewater which had to be treated.
“Recognizing and encouraging innovation in manufacturing is vital as we strengthen Ford Motor Company’s position as a leader in environmental sustainability," said Sue Cischke, Ford vice president, Environmental and Safety Engineering. "The Environmental Leadership Awards highlight these achievements and challenge others to take bold steps.”