Seat said technology and more efficient processes to reuse and recycle water used in its manufacturing processes, particularly in the paint workshop and rain test booth, have reduced its impact on the water cycle.
Nonetheless, the VW Group factory in Martorell, near Barcelona, produces around 450,000 Seat and Audi cars a year, still used 1,170,000 cu m of water in 2018 – the equivalent of 470 Olympic swimming pools.
It aims to further reduce consumption to 38% of that by 2025 by implementing more systems and processes around the factory, from capturing water vapour in air conditioning units to recycling huge amounts of waste water.
Joan Carles Casas, plant engineering manager, said: "Digitalisation and new technologies are helping us make enormous progress towards a model of circular economy with more recycling and fewer emissions."
The paint shop uses half of all water consumed by the plant, thanks to processes like chassis surface treatments, water wash booths and final paint application. Efficiency in this area has been improved by a process that takes excess spray paint into a treatment tank, where chemicals separate the paint and water. Once clean, the water is returned into the process and reused.
The rain test pours 150 litres of water per square metre on vehicles, during a six-minute period. Here, a closed circuit has also been introduced, with all of the water collected and carried to a purification circuit before being reused in the same process.
Among the systems and processes planned to help reduce consumption to 38% are:
- Condensate recovery of water vapour in the factory's air conditioning system
- Monitoring of cooling systems
- Weather condition forecasting systems to programme more efficiently the watering of green spaces
- Pilot tests with electrocoagulation, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis systems, designed to recycle large amounts of waste water produced by the plant