auto assembly line

Large automotive assembly plant achieves 25% of its 2030 water savings objectives with Water Flow Intelligence


As part of a major automaker’s 2030 sustainability goals, one U.S. assembly plant was charged with reducing water use by 20 million gallons per year in one of its paint lines. At the time, the plant used 92 million gallons of water per year – but with little knowledge of where or how the water was consumed by individual systems.

Following a total plant assessment, Nalco Water experts recommended the plant’s water pretreatment and process bath/rinse areas as prime targets for water savings. Many of these systems managed flow via manual valves, which lack precision in controlling or quantifying water use. As a result, valve settings varied between different system operators, especially after shutdown/startup. This led to wide swings in water usage.


To quantify and ultimately optimize water use in the identified areas, Nalco Water recommended Water Flow Intelligence (WFI). This digital service, powered by ECOLAB3D™, gives visibility into actual water usage at specific points in the manufacturing process. With these insights, the team can identify precise opportunities for water savings in the plant.

For this plant, the Nalco Water team recommended 20 locations as areas of focus for the WFI program. The Nalco Water field service team partnered with plant staff run electrical lines and place the WFI sensors and cellular equipment. Equipment installation was complete within a week of the electrical work.

Once the program was online, Nalco Water experts quickly identified reverse osmosis (RO) water usage at one of the plant’s later phosphate rinse stages as a target for water reduction. Using WFI program data, baselines were established for the phosphate rinse stage’s current usage and flow rate. This enabled the team to optimize water usage for different manual valve settings.


With these new insights, the plant significantly cut water use in the phosphate rinse stage with no negative impact on product quality. Because this stage uses RO water, less consumption here further saves water throughout the plant through reduced RO reject.

Through this effort alone, the plant saved 3,742,000 gallons of water per year in the phosphate rinse stage, plus an additional 1,250,000 gallons saved in RO reject water. Together, the total water savings is valued at $47,000 per year and accounts for 25% of the plant’s water reduction goal within the first year of implementation. In addition, from this adjustment alone, the plant saw payback on their WFI program investment in less than a year.

Based on the success at this site, the automaker is working to implement the WFI program at their other North America assembly plants.


eROI by Ecolab logo

Annual Savings

  • Water eROI icon

    5 Million Gallons*

    Water savings per year

  • Quality Icon

    Environmental Responsibility

    of customer's 2030 water reduction goal

  • eROI Cost icon


    in realized cost savings per year

*Client Supplied Data

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