It’s already well known that the Ford F-150’s body switched from steel to aluminum, but now further details are coming out regarding the actual manufacturing process. It turns out that Ford’s decided on a zero-waste system when it comes to aluminum thanks to the metal’s recycling capabilities. Not only does this result in a cost savings for the company, it helps minimize the amount of resources used and wasted during manufacturing. From the Wall Street Journal:
The 2015 F-150, perhaps the most important vehicle to hit Ford dealerships in decades, goes on sale this month. By the time a new truck exits the factory and heads for the showroom, it will have left behind $300 worth of scrap aluminum on the plant floor.
That scrap is collected, cleaned, and sent back to the aluminum plant on the same trucks that delivered it fresh—creating what Chief Executive Mark Fields calls a “closed loop” that helps offset the expense of building its best-selling vehicle with a material that is far pricier than steel.
“Every single scrap of aluminum is reused,” Mr. Fields said in an interview. “The more you can reuse or recycle, it makes it a more compelling business case.”
Every day, about 50 semi tractor-trailers drive out of Ford’s F-150 plant in Dearborn, Mich., with thousands of pounds of shredded aluminum, scrap that was stamped out of six-foot-wide aluminum rolls used to make F-150 body panels. Only 60% to 65% of a roll is actually used in the stamping process because many body panels have big holes, such as windows.
Because aluminum can be recycled almost endlessly without degradation, recycling has long played a major role in the production of everything from beer cans to jumbo jets. The twist is that Ford installed systems to separate the six different aluminum alloys it uses and return them to mills in Iowa or New York, to be turned back into aluminum sheet for delivery to its Dearborn stamping plant.
For more on the technology behind Ford’s recycling process, be sure to check out the full WSJ article.