Emphasing Efficiency at Fords Cleveland Castings

U.S. Dept. of Energy program assesses energy use in order to improve efficiency and productivity

The Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) Industrial Technologies Program promotes plant-wide assessments that will lead to improvements in industrial energy efficiency, productivity, and global competitiveness. The program also aims to reduce waste and environmental emissions. These programs are co-sponsored by the DOE with companies searching for ways to address these issues.

The Ford Cleveland Castings Plant (CCP) in Cleveland, OH, is one such facility. The Ford CCP produces cast iron engine blocks and engine components for Ford plants throughout North America. The complex includes two engine plants, an aluminum casting plant, and a central power plant.

In order to run the four facets of the CCP, Ford still needs to buy electricity, natural gas, water, coke, and steam, in addition to the raw materials, such as scrap iron and steel, and limestone. Any way to cut costs and run more productively with such a large agenda would be welcomed.

Ford CCP and the DOE used a two-part assessment to reduce energy use, waste, and production costs through a series of specifically targeted initiatives:

Characterization — to identify the components of the production processes that have the greatest savings potential;

Inside-out Analysis— to identify specific opportunities that maximize savings while minimizing capital costs. In this approach, the analysis begins with the equipment that actually manufacturers the product, then works outward.

The assessment team used the principles of lean production to analyze the core, mold, and finishing shops. In the melt shop, the focus was on improving cupola design and performance, and on improving the material handling, air-pollution control, pumping, fan, cooling, and compressed air systems.

During the characterization phase, the assessment team used flow diagrams to indicate the magnitude and location of energy-use, waste generation, and production costs during the manufacturing processes. Using these maps, specific systems, equipment, and processes were targeted for detailed analysis to identify the most attractive savings opportunities.

Once the systems were identified and prioritized according to savings potential, the assessment team used an inside-out approach to analyze each system for savings opportunities.

When looking to reduce energy costs, the team analyzed in sequence manufacturing equipment and processes, energy distribution systems, primary energy conversion equipment, and utility services.

To optimize waste reduction, the team began its analysis at the manufacturing processes, worked outward to waste treatment equipment, and ended at the waste disposal services. Starting at the manufacturing processes and working outward to the plant boundary could multiply savings multiplied because distribution systems, energy conversion equipment, and waste treatment processes can be downsized or eliminated. Applying the inside-out approach can yield significant savings at minimal initial cost.

The advantage: capitalization on manufacturers’ knowledge of their products and processes. In addition, it uses the expertise of plant designers, schedulers, managers, equipment operators, and maintenance staff to reduce resource use and costs.

The short-term projects alone (see table) could save about 18 million kWH and nearly 139,000 MMBtu per year, plus reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 63 million pounds annually.

The assessment team identified two projects for long-term consideration: installing a high-capacity cupola and replacing 400W mercury lights with 360W metal halide lamps. Combined, the long-term projects saved another $9.5 million annually and energy savings of eight million kWh in electricity and 600,000 MMBtu in fuel.

As of March 2005, 11 of the 16 projects identified in the co-sponsored assessment were implemented at CCP — with a cost savings of approximately $1.5 million a year.

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