Demonstrating its “aggressive approach to lead in environmental improvements,” Ford Motor Co. said it is installing LED light fixtures in its manufacturing plants around the world.

The 25,000 new LED fixtures will replace traditional high-intensity discharge and fluorescent lights. The new lights – valued at more than $25 million – will save energy and money while improving safety and lighting quality, the automaker noted.

Ford expects the LED lights to cut its energy use at manufacturing facilities by 56 million kilowatt-hours annually, reducing energy costs by approximately $7 million.

With a 15-year life expectancy, the LED lighting also will require less maintenance, Ford said.  The automaker pointed to studies showing that LED light output remains steady at less than 1 percent degradation per year over the life of the equipment, while fluorescent and HID fixtures require re-lamping in as little as two years.

LED lights improve safety by eliminating hazardous materials in fixtures and lowering fire risks. At the same time, the technology provides a brighter work area, better uniformity and improved color perception, resulting in a better quality of light for plant employees, the automaker noted.

"We are extremely pleased to install this leading-edge technology in our manufacturing facilities worldwide,” said John Fleming, executive vice president, global manufacturing and labor affairs. “This is a long-term investment in our future that highlights our aggressive approach to lead in environmental improvements and achieve operating efficiencies.”

Working Toward 25 Percent Goal

In 2011, Ford embarked on an effort to cut its energy use in vehicle production 25 percent by 2016. Since then, the automaker has achieved a 20 percent reduction in energy use, according to George Andraos, director of energy and sustainability at Ford Land, the automaker’s real estate, construction and facility services subsidiary.

“Moving to LED gives us impressive efficiency improvement,” said Andraos. “Ford worked closely with its scientists and suppliers to investigate and closely follow the rapid development of LED lighting. In 2013, we selected Dialight, a leading LED industrial fixture manufacturer with a global footprint, to develop light fixtures that meet Ford’s global needs.”

In late September, work began at the Dearborn (Mich.) Truck Plant to replace worn and outdated overhead lighting. The LED replacement program will continue through the year at 17 other Ford manufacturing facilities across the globe.

Recently, Ford also announced that it will work with DTE Energy to install Michigan’s largest solar carport at its world headquarters in Dearborn. When completed in early 2015, the project is expected to generate 1.3 million kilowatt-hours annually, enough energy to power 159 average-size homes for a year.