Ford Implements Minium Quantity Lubrication Near-Dry Machining Process In Six Plants

Besides vying to increase the sale of its vehicles globally, Ford Motor Company is also on a mission to increase the environmental friendliness of its operations as a whole — from the impact the use of its vehicles have on the environment to what it takes to manufacture them. And as part of this commitment to sustainability, the automaker has announced that it has added dry machining capability to six of its manufacturing plants around the world.

Otherwise known as Minimum Quantity Lubrication or MQL, near-dry machining is a process that lubricates cutting tools with a fine spray of oil precisely when and where it is needed. By contrast, conventional wet machining floods the part with metal-working fluids, requiring large amounts of fluid to cool and lubricate the tools used to make engines and transmissions. In that regard, MQL could be thought of as direct injection, but for manufacturing engines and transmissions.

Water Savings

The savings resulting from the use of MQL are eye-opening to say the least: on a typical production line, the process can save over 280,000 gallons (1 million liters) of water per year, or enough to fill 5,600 average-sized bathtubs, according to Ford. After switching to MQL, Ford’s Cologne Engine Plant in Germany decreased water use per engine by 50% from 2011 to 2012.

“Reducing the environmental footprint of our plants is a critical part of Ford’s overall sustainability commitment,” said Andrew Hobbs, director of Ford’s environmental quality office. “Expanding new processes such as MQL across our global network of facilities allows us to have an even greater impact.”

Oil And Energy Savings

In addition to reducing water usage, MQL also reduces the amount of oil and energy needed to machine an engine or transmission. Oil use is decreased by 80% or more to roughly 100 milliliters, or half the size of an average drinking glass, and energy use is decreased due to the elimination of a coolant system across most engine production lines.

Six Plants

As of October 2013, Ford manufacturing plants that have switched to the MQL process include:

  • Changan Ford Engine Plant (China)
  • Craiova Engine Plant (Romania)
  • Cologne Engine Plant (Germany)
  • Livonia Transmission Plant (Michigan)
  • Romeo Engine Plant (Michigan)
  • Van Dyke Transmission Plant (Michigan)

Ford expects this number to nearly double in the next few years.

“MQL technology will also be incorporated into future engine and transmission plants, underscoring our commitment to advanced manufacturing processes that reduce water and resource requirements,” said Bill Russo, director of manufacturing for Ford powertrain operations.

As part of its sustainability initiative, Ford is continuing efforts to cut water use 30% per vehicle by 2015. Between 2000 and 2012, the automaker reduced global water use by 62%, or roughly 10 billion gallons.

The Motrolix staff is comprised of automotive enthusiasts and fanatics from all walks of life and all over the world. They do it for the love of cars.

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