Martorell, 23/03/2015. – Closing the tap when we wash our hands or using a low-flow toilet in the bathroom are two examples of habits people have recently been adopting to conserve this precious resource. But water conservation also depends largely on businesses being sensitised to the issue.
In dealing with this concern, over the last four years SEAT has managed to reduce the amount of water needed to make a car by 15%. The company consumed a little over 1,400,000 m3 of water in 2014, which is equivalent to the needs of a city with a population of 35,000 people. This was made possible by using the most efficient technologies in the production processes involved in making cars. “The water is prepared in the best quality conditions and with low salt content to reduce consumption, and we also recover the water used in cleaning operations”, explains Francesc Vila, the Environmental Officer at SEAT.
The aim is to reach a 25% savings by the year 2018. This goal would not be achievable without the engagement of every employee and, according to Francesc Vila, their motivation is undisputed. In fact, he points out that a large part of the savings made until now are the result of ideas for improvement made by the bulk of the workforce and several sensitisation classes, where “information is given on the measures adopted and how workers can collaborate to reduce water consumption”.
The paint workshop located in the Martorell factory is the facility that requires the most water, consuming more than half of the total. The most water-dependent processes include the chassis surface treatments, the pre-paint washing stations and the final spray booths. However, this workshop is also where the largest savings are being made. When the car bodies get spray painted, the unused paint falls into a treatment tank. “Here we add the necessary chemical products to separate the paint from the water. Once cleaned, it is returned to the process in a completely closed circuit”, explains the Environmental Officer.
Another process that also takes place in Martorell and requires a considerable amount of water is the rain simulation test, which monitors that each car is perfectly watertight by directing more than 150 litres of water per square metre at the car during a six-minute cycle. Here, too, a closed circuit is used. “We collect and channel all the water used into a treatment system and it gets circulated back into the process”.
These are only a few of the actions intended to contribute to saving as much water as possible, protect the environment and safeguard natural resources. “We are located in an area that is highly sensitive to climate change, which means we can experience long periods of drought. For this reason companies have to be responsible to reduce their water consumption as much as possible and make every effort to be more efficient”, concludes Francesc Vila with optimism, who assures that the company has already “come a long way”