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Ford Embracing Analytics and Big Data to Inform Eco-Conscious Decisions, Stay Green
by Staff Report


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Analytics permeates almost every aspect of sustainability at Ford, helping to chart paths to a cleaner, brighter, better world and a stronger business

The amount of available data is growing fast: Ford researchers have begun experimenting with vehicles that produce 250 gigabytes of data an hour. More information leads to further improvements in increasing fuel economy and reducing vehicle emissions

Ford considers big data and analytics the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity, with new opportunities emerging such as green routing, that allows consumers to optimize driving routes to minimize their impact on local air quality

Not too far from where factory workers assemble Ford cars and trucks,
analytics experts in the company’s Research and Innovation Center are
building something entirely different but equally important: complex
mathematical models to help Ford sharpen its competitive edge while
limiting its environmental impact.

Launched 15 years ago as a
small cadre of researchers, the group’s size and impact on Ford has
grown considerably while its mission is unchanged – chart a path for the
company to a cleaner, brighter, better world and stronger business.

“I
don’t think it’s a coincidence that Ford now ranks among the greenest
brands in the world,” said John Viera, global director of sustainability
and vehicle environmental matters. “The company’s investments in the
field of big data analytics have continually increased during the last
15 years.”

Viera outlined Ford’s use of analytics and big data as
part of a panel discussion today at the 2013 Net Impact conference in
San Jose, Calif.

The group, comprised of scientists,
mathematicians, computer modelers and other researchers, uses the latest
in analytics and big data to discover ways to minimize Ford’s
environmental impact and bolster its bottom line by identifying
potential risks and opportunities. Here are some examples of the work
the group has accomplished:


  • Fuel economy: Developed a science-based model that projects CO2
    emissions generated by the fleet of vehicles on roads worldwide for the
    next 50 years, helping Ford set aggressive fuel economy targets yet
    remain eco-conscious
  • Power of choice: Used science and math to
    show that one particular form of alternative engine power is unlikely to
    emerge above all others, helping to make the case for a diversified
    portfolio of powertrains ranging from EcoBoost® engines, hybrid and plug-in hybrid technologies, flex-fuel, all-electric, biodiesel, CNG and LPG
  • New
    features: Created sophisticated mathematical models that optimize
    millions of possible vehicle combinations to give decision makers the
    tools to construct an eco-conscious and cost-effective global technology
    roadmap, resulting in green products such as Ford Auto Start-Stop
  • Customer
    value: Developed specific tools such as the Ford Fleet Purchase
    Planner, an analytical system that helps fleet customers match their
    vehicle choices to their needs while helping save money and the planet

Ford
considers analytics and big data – in and out of vehicles – the next
frontier for innovation, competition and productivity. The company
continues to expand its use of big data as more and better technologies,
methodologies and datasets emerge.

Consider the plug-in hybrid
Ford Fusion Energi. The vehicle generates about 25 gigabytes of data
every hour; those data are useful for further improvements in fuel
economy and vehicle emission reductions. Yet, Ford researchers are
already experimenting with vehicles that generate 10 times that much
data – 250 gigabytes – per hour.

Some other areas Ford is exploring for green analytics potential:


  • Green
    routing, which optimizes driving routes to reduce a vehicle’s impact on
    local air quality in specific locations, such as near hospitals,
    schools and in high density residential areas
  • Statistical
    analysis of vehicle usage data to provide insight into consumer
    acceptance of electric vehicles and the electrification of personal
    transportation
  • Optimal use of current and future biofuels
  • Demand
    and availability of strategic materials used in powertrains, including
    rare earth elements, lithium and platinum group metals
  • Life-cycle
    analysis tools aimed at measuring energy and water use – along with
    greenhouse gas emissions – associated with alternative fuels and
    materials
  • Further expanding the number of environmentally friendly components in Ford vehicles

“There
are so many amazing possibilities to consider for the future impact of
data,” said Viera. “The possibilities are not only exciting, they

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