Gil Maron

Project Engineer

Based in Colorado Springs, CO, USA


Automobile Industry and Water Management

How can the automobile industry inspire us to make better water management decisions?

There is no doubt that the invention of the automobile fundamentally transformed the way we live. Many people need a car for their livelihood and every-day activities. In 2018, there were more than 270 million motor vehicles in the USA alone (~0.8 cars per person, including children). But when we look at the history of the automobile, its importance to society was not so obvious at the beginning. When the first car was invented in 1885 by Karl Benz, he needed to overcome the negative perception of his innovation as well as the technology and engineering challenges. In fact, Karl’s wife, Bertha, changed history in 1888 by driving her husband’s invention to see her mother, 65 miles away. The idea not to use a horse was revolutionary. Over time, improvements to functionality, safety, efficiency, and affordability have resulted in cars being an undeniably essential part of our lives. The progress in the industry has been remarkable; from innovations that enabled mass production, to the Saab GT750 in 1958 that came with the first standard seatbelts, to the fully automated manufacturing of car production by Tesla. Today’s cars are not only machines that bring us from point A to point B but have become computers and robots on wheels with entertainment systems, navigation devices, wireless capabilities, built-in WIFI, and more. It is likely that when you think about the future of transportation, you easily envision a world of self-driving and flying cars. But how is this relevant to Water Management and how can the automobile be a good analogy? There is more in common between the evolution of the automobile and the evolution of water management than you may think. 

What can we learn from automobile history and water management? 
  1. High complexity tasks can be systematized and automated. 
  2. High cost of operation can be substantially reduced by streamlining operations and decisions. 
  3. Multidisciplinary problems require integrated solution. 
  4. Data processing and management is at least as important. 
  5. Expertise is as critical to drive innovation. 

Water management in the semiconductor manufacturing industry today is at a critical point, similar to the situation the automobile was in the early 20th century. Mega semiconductor fabs consume vast quantities of fresh water while the city infrastructure development to supply this water is behind the speed of development of those facilities. 
One car is comprised of hundreds of elements operated in sync and tied to one computer and one driver. Water Management is still a disintegrated set of systems, often managed independently. Similar to the car that needs to deal with the boundaries of driving experience, safety, cost, reliability, road infrastructure, regulations, and environmental conditions, Water Management decisions require optimization around exactly the same boundaries. This requires the organization of all data in one place, similarly to the car’s computer making centralized and informed decisions. 

What does the future of water management look like? 
Much like the automobile’s future of self-driving cars, we believe that future water management product innovations will provide an intricate network of sensors and data processing artificial intelligence that will help facility operators make ever-improving water management decisions, thus minimizing the environmental footprint and optimizing the performance of the related facility systems.

If you are interested in knowing what FTD Solutions is doing to advance water management into its ideal future, please contact FTD Solutions.