Ford Motor Company’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth has received the SJM Flex Environmental Award for excellence in environmental management at the 2019 Export of the Year awards. The event was hosted by Exporters Eastern Cape at the end of last year.
The Manager of the Struandale Engine Plant, Shawn Govender, explained that the plant has been pursuing innovative ways to improve the efficiency of its manufacturing. This is in order to reduce its impact on the environment and improve its waste management.
“Ford has continuously invested in technologies and systems that enhance our operating efficiencies and minimise the environmental impact, resulting in noteworthy improvements in electricity and water consumption over the past five years.”
Energy-intensive appliances such as the geysers were replaced with energy consumption boiler systems to provide hot water in the kitchens, canteens and ablutions.
Additionally, hundreds of halogen and fluorescent light bulbs were replaced with energy-saving LEDs. In addition, more than 900 LED bulbs were installed in the offices and administration buildings. Approximately, 170 of the large high-bay lights used in the vast component machining and engine assembly halls were switched to efficient and bright LED lights. All this was aimed to further reduce the energy consumption of the plant.
The plant has also implemented a power reporting system that allows real-time monitoring of the energy used throughout the facility. This system enables the team to optimise the electricity usage in each area of the plant.
Govender explained that these systems have helped the plant reduce its electricity consumption.
“Despite increasing our installed capacity to our highest-ever levels, and launching a new assembly line for the new-generation 2.0 Bi-Turbo and 2.0 Single Turbo engines, we managed to reduce our electricity consumption by over 19 percent between 2014 and 2018, and we continue to implement new energy-saving solutions.”
Extensive range of water-saving measures has been introduced at Ford’s plant. Govender explained that rainwater has been channelled from the plant’s vast roof areas into tanks located throughout the facility. The tanks have a combined storage capacity of 155 000 litres. Through a water management system, this harvested water is fed directly into the ablution facilities. Furthermore, all of the ablutions have been revamped and fitted with the latest water-saving systems that have significantly reduced water usage during flushing and washing.
A wide range of recycling initiatives implemented over the years has resulted in more than 97 percent of the plant’s waste products being recycled.
Beyond Ford’s manufacturing operations in Port Elizabeth, employees are committed to assisting surrounding communities and protecting the natural environment.
In conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 100 indigenous trees have been planted around the Struandale premises in an effort to offset its carbon footprint. Indigenous trees use much less water than alien species and are more resilient to local conditions which eliminate the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals.
In 2018 and 2019, as part of Ford’s annual Global Caring Month, employees dedicated more than 700 hours to a project run by the Swartkops Conservancy to clean the Motherwell stormwater canal and the Swartkops River estuary. The volunteers removed alien plants, waste and litter from water canals that empty into the river, with over 1 100 bags of refuse being collected.
Supported through grants from the Ford Motor Company Fund, two projects are invested in producing and distributing reusable sanitary pads for secondary school learners.
“This gives dignity to girls who cannot afford disposable sanitary pads, while dramatically reducing the amount of disposable waste that ends up in landfills. These innovative reusable pads last up to two years, are produced from eco-friendly materials and can be washed simply with water.“
Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa donated R1-million to the Afribiz Foundation for Mandela Day in July 2019 to supply pads to 67 000 learners at 77 schools in Pretoria, and a further 18 schools in Port Elizabeth. In addition, the Al Fidaa Foundation received a grant to manufacture and supply 500 packs of reusable sanitary pads each month to girls from low-income households in Port Elizabeth.
Last year, a Ford Fund grant enabled World Vision South Africa to launch an innovative two-year project that is assisting drought-stricken communities in Nelson Mandela Bay. The project utilises a mobile Watergen GEN-350 atmospheric water-from-air generator, which is capable of producing up to 900 litres of clean and safe drinking water per day. It supports 79 schools, four clinics, 50 early childhood development centres (ECDs) and an estimated 3 400 households in Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and KwaNobuhle.
To further support the drought-relief efforts, Ford Fund provided a grant of R290 000 to Agri Eastern Cape in February 2020 to assist with the provision of much-needed animal feed to the province’s hardest-hit farming communities. This was bolstered by an additional R243 000 donated by Ford dealer, Eastern Cape Motors, from a fund-raising project held at the end of last year.