Ford Tridium


Ford Motor Company Upgrades North American Compressed Air Systems with No Out-of-Pocket Costs

Compressed Air


After more than two decades of working together on compressed air controls and other energy projects, the Ford Land Energy team at Ford Motor Company turned to Bay Controls again when faced with a companywide mandate to cut operations energy usage by 25 percent. To help Ford meet its energy savings goals, Bay Controls worked with Ford to deliver compressed air energy savings across 10 Ford Plants in North America through a combination of controls retrofits, air system networking and scheduling, and a cloud-based compressed air system monitoring solution powered by hardware from Bay Controls and Tridium. To minimize upfront costs, the project will be paid for using the energy savings it generates over five years.


Bay Controls has supplied air compressor controls to Ford production facilities since 1985. As Alex Stefanou, Principal Supervisor at Ford Land Energy, puts it: “We have a longstanding relationship with Bay. They are our pseudo standard for controls and integration projects.” Given the successful history of working together, it made sense that the Ford Land Energy group thought of Bay Controls when they were tasked with reducing operations energy use by 25 percent. According to Stefanou, “We started talking [with Bay] in 2013. We were right in the middle of improving our operations energy usage by 25 percent, and it made sense; you can’t ignore compressed air if you’re trying to save 25 percent companywide.”

Building on initial conversations with the Ford energy team, Bay Controls put together a proposal to improve the efficiency of the compressed air systems at all of the Ford plants in North America through a combination of controls retrofits and compressed air network optimization. In addition to lowering energy costs, the Ford team also saw the project as an opportunity to integrate their existing Bay Controls compressed air monitoring solution (BayWatch) with the Tridium Niagara platform that was being used as a utility (electric and gas) monitoring platform companywide.

To keep upfront project costs to a minimum, Ford asked Bay Controls to deliver the project as a performance contract. This approach uses the cost savings generated by the controls upgrades and compressed air system optimization to “finance” the project over the five-year term of the contract without any out-of-pocket costs to Ford.

Energy and Cost Savings Analysis

As an initial phase of the project, Bay Controls conducted a thorough assessment of the compressed air systems at Ford’s North American plants to put together a baseline for compressed air system performance, energy consumption, and energy costs. While a typical assessment or audit of this scale (12 plants spread throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico) would be enormously expensive and time-consuming, Bay Controls was able to deliver a comprehensive analysis to Ford at almost no cost and in very little time thanks to BayWatch.

As part of their ongoing partnership with Bay Controls, Ford had installed the BayWatch cloud-based compressed air system monitoring platform in all of their North American plants before this project began. With the data capture and analysis capabilities of BayWatch, Bay Controls was able to quickly and affordably put together a detailed analysis of all the Ford compressed air systems and identify savings opportunities based on historical system operating data and performance.

Project Scope

Based on the analysis results and the need to fit all project components into a five-year performance contract, Bay Controls determined that the most cost-effective savings measures for the project would be the following:

  • Compressor Controller User Interface Module (UIM) retrofits at all plants
  • Compressed air system network surge testing and tuning at all plants

In addition to the energy-saving upgrades, the other major component of the project was the integration of Ford’s compressed air systems onto the Tridium Niagara platform. Ford had standardized on the Tridium platform for centrally tracking utility (gas and electric) data and wanted to add compressed air system monitoring to their existing Tridium platform to deliver the same capabilities as BayWatch in the Tridium environment.

To achieve this goal, Bay Controls determined that a new driver would have to be developed to bridge the gap between the existing Bay Controls C-Link air compressor networks at the individual plants and the Tridium Plant Supervisors (data collection hardware) that were already in place at each plant.

Project Execution

Over the course of 24 months, Bay Controls engineers completed the UIM retrofits and compressed air network surge tuning at 10 Ford plants in North America. The remaining two North American plants did not meet the initial 5-year financing constraint and were therefore not part of the project.

While Bay engineers were in the field at the Ford plants, the Bay Controls development team worked to build a new Tridium driver that would allow Bay Controllers to communicate with the Tridium hardware. When this was complete, all of the Bay Controllers in Ford’s North American plants were updated with new software that enabled them to communicate with the Tridium networks already in place. From there, Bay Controls Tridium-certified system integrators began the process of connecting all of the plant’s compressed air networks (and controllers) to each plant’s existing Tridium network utilizing the Tridium driver/connection protocol developed by Bay Controls.

Over the course of the project, Bay Controls brought the following facilities and equipment into the Ford Tridium network:

Plant Compressors Other Equipment
Chicago Assembly  5
Sharonville  5  1 Dryer, 1 Cooling Tower
Sterling Heights (Stamping)  4
Michigan Truck (Ford Wayne)  13
Flat Rock  5  5 Dryers, 1 Cooling Tower
Ohio Assembly  5 4 Dryers, 1 Cooling Tower
Hermosillo (Mexico)  5  3 Dryers, 1 Cooling Tower
Chihuahua (Mexico)  5
Buffalo  6
Oakville (Canada)  7 Monitoring 3 Dryers


As of Q3 2016, all of the air compressor controllers have been retrofit, all of the plant compressed air networks have been surge tuned, and 10 out of 11 plant compressed air systems are fully integrated into the Ford Tridium network, all with zero out-of-pocket costs to Ford.

Based on the savings analysis completed by Bay Controls and the improved energy performance of project plans to-date, Bay Controls estimates that Ford has reduced their compressed air energy costs by $977,093.00 annually on average across all 10 project plants.

In addition to realizing significant energy savings, Ford has also gained the ability to centrally (and remotely) monitor and control the compressed air systems in all 10 plants via the Tridium/Bay Controls integration. With the integrated Tridium/Bay controllers, Ford can capture all compressed air operating data and also schedule compressed air system operation to match the air demand for each plant.

Next Steps

With the success of this project, Bay Controls demonstrated that it is possible to integrate two existing networks (the Bay Controls compressed air network and the Ford Tridium network) to deliver a new standard in control and monitoring of plant systems. Given this success, Ford and Bay Controls are exploring a second phase of the project to bring other plant equipment/systems such as compressed air dryers, chillers, HVAC, etc. into the Tridium network to gain additional insight into plant energy consumption and target new energy-saving opportunities.

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