Automakers push contamination control

With all of the unfolding contamination control guidelines and cleanroom technology adaptation in the life sciences the life sciences and semiconductor markets, it's easy to overlook some of the ground-breaking initiatives that the world's automakers and auto parts producers are pushing forward in an effort to differentiate themselves in one of the world's most competitive markets.

In this month's Special Report (Page 12), ace correspondent Sheila Galatowitsch takes a look inside Ford, Delphi Delco and GM's new philosophies on clean manufacturing adaptations—all of which are driven by increasing customer demands, evolving auto technology and a heaping helping of inspired environmental stewardship.

Ford Motor Company and their project partners at Detroit Edison deserve a round of applause for their work on their Fumes-to-Fuel project at the Ford Rouge Center Paint Shop in Dearborn, Mich. Mark Wherrett and his team took a hard look at their paint shop—one of the biggest energy users at Ford—and through an innovative process are now turning nasty volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions into hydrogen-rich gas that, through chemical reaction, is turned into electricity.

According to Ford, the pilot facility in Dearborn is cranking out 5,000 watts of electricity and is cleaning the paint exhaust better than the “old fashion” incineration systems ever could.

The impact on Ford's energy savings is just one bright spot to come out of this work. The success is driving pollution control companies to Ford's doorstep and is forcing other industries that use and generate harmful pollutants to revaluate business-as- usual procedures.

“Partnering for innovation” may sound like a late '90s cliché, but once a juggernaut like Ford steps out of company lines, builds a relationship with a partner with a specific core competency and takes such a gargantuan step forward, its time for every industry to sit up and take notice of the dynamics of such a project.

A note from the road…It appears that last month's Viewpoint didn't fall on deaf ears. I put out a call-for-action, asking you to consider the cost of not getting involved in association working groups, trade shows and conferences. I asked you to get creative with travel plans and carve out some time to re-connect with the industry.

The first sign of impact: CleanRooms West 2003 registration doubled last year's attendance. Thanks to all who are setting their sights on the continued development of contamination control practice through this kind of interaction—because no industry can afford the cost of non-involvement.

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Michael A. Levans
Chief Editor


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