Water management is key to the automotive sector’s sustainability | Infrastructure news

Electric motors, CO2 emission reduction and lightweight construction are key issues for the automotive sector, but what about water? Automotive manufacturers use thousands of litres of water each day – making this an ideal cost-saving and sustainability focus.

By Chris Ashmore, CEO Watericon

Water conservation is becoming an issue of growing importance in sustainable vehicle manufacturing – not to mention the cost savings associated with sustainable water usage. Around the world, automotive manufacturers and suppliers are collaborating in their efforts to improve the environmental performance of their organisations.

Unfortunately, the true cost of using water is often misunderstood across industries, resulting in poor management choices regarding how water is used and treated.

For example, the automotive sector is a major consumer of water, which is a critical component in various production processes, including paint spray booths, surface treatment and coating, hosing, rinsing and washing.

Of the various automotive production processes that use water, metal finishing operations are notorious for high water consumption, but it is in the paint shop that water consumption is most significant. The painting process itself uses considerable water volumes, and processing equipment used for automotive coatings must be cleaned regularly.

In addition to the use of water for these processes, there is also the matter of wastewater, which needs to be treated to high standards to meet environmental regulations. So, how do automotive manufacturing plants ensure sustainability, improve their environmental footprint and save costs when their processes rely on using thousands of litres of water each day?

Water management is key to the automotive sector’s sustainability
Chris Ashmore is the CEO of Watericon

Reducing waste, reusing water and saving costs

Watericon is a South Africa-based water treatment company that provides a full range of watertreatment services for the industrial, municipal and residential sectors. Specifically, Watericon assists its customers in the automotive industry to become more sustainable, while simultaneously saving on costs and allowing them to focus on what they do best.

For example, one manufacturer’s plant used municipal water as a rinse water source in its paint shop (Zone 11); however, effluent from a different part of the plant (Zone 8) was not utilised, resulting in wasted water that could be reclaimed. Watericon’s solution was to build a water treatment plant that could treat the effluent water from Zone 8, so that this water could then be used as supply rinse water to Zone 11. This eliminated the use of municipal supply in the circuit, reducing water costs and boosting sustainability by reclaimingand reusing wastewater.

Similarly, a competitor’s plant generates a noticeable volume of paint water effluent,which, if left untreated, is unsuitable for reuse. The solution was to build a water treatment plant to treat the paint water effluent to a level where it becomes suitable for use in the existing reverse osmosis unit, thus eliminating the need for municipal water.

Since implementing the new treatment system, the plant has had the benefit of reusing the treated paint water effluent, a decreased reliance on municipal water usage,and decreased effluent disposal costs. Each solution is custom-built for the needs of the specific plant.

Additional Reading?

Request Free Copy