Holden slashes water consumption

THE global market poses both challenges and opportunities for the Australian automotive industry.

THE global market poses both challenges and opportunities for the Australian automotive industry.

With increasing cost pressures, lower tariffs, intense competition, and new concerns about sustainability, major car companies like Holden are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to become more sustainable.

Henkel, better known as a global supplier of adhesives, sealants and surface treatments, recently collaborated with Holden to investigate ways to achieve water savings at Holden’s new VE Commodore facility.

The biggest consumer of water on-site, the metal pre-treatment section, was purpose built for the VE to maintain a high quality paint finish.

The challenge was to find a way to maintain the high quality finish of the car while avoiding the excess water usage.

The collaborative effort resulted in Holden reducing its incoming reverse osmosis (RO) water amount by almost 46 million litres per year to achieve real financial savings in water processing charges.

George Kazantzis, head of Henkel Automotive Australia, said company’s engineers identified where the biggest consumption and overflow of water was and made several modifications.

“For example, one of the tanks overflowed by 20 litres per minute. We wanted to see if we could divert the water back into the tank without dumping it,” he explained.

“There was a lot of collaboration among the engineers. Both the Australian team and those in our German headquarters developed a feasible and sustainable solution for our client,” said Kazantzis.

Re-engineering the process not only meant water saving but also minimised the need for waste water treatment.

With Australia in the midst of one of the worst droughts on record, the push to reduce water consumption is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Henkel’s water saving solution may have wider implications for the automotive industry as it begins to implement environmentally responsible solutions to everyday processes.

Kazantzis says the company has realigned its business model to respond to where the market is moving, transforming the business from a manufacturing base that supplies chemicals, to an engineering centre that designs, optimises and develops processes.