Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company Australia is a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company in the USA, founded in 1925. Responsible for the manufacture and testing of the large range of vehicles produced, the Lara Proving Grounds are today used for numerous facilities which undergo the necessary tests, such as the Squeaks and Rattles Test Facility. To meet high product standards, tests are carried out in temperatures ranging from -29°C to 50°C, meaning the system within the test facility must be able to provide this range of ambient temperatures.

Initial system

The initial system was shared by two different facilities, however, it could not support both at the same time. Both facilities being crucial to Ford’s operations the new system needed to be dedicated to the Squeaks and Rattles test facility and also reach the minimum temperature of -29°C, which the previous system could not.

Additionally, the installed control system was a USA owned brand, meaning few individuals within Australia could modify the system and required very expensive software keys. The suggestion made by Minus40 was that the control system be replaced, in order for it to be more appropriate and practical within Australia.

Project objectives

The objective of the design provided by Minus40 was to be able to provide the complete range of temperatures required by the test facility. In order to enable this, a separate refrigeration system was designed for the Squeaks and Rattles Facility from the environmental facility, ensuring that they can both be run at the same time. Upon following recommendations, an efficient two-stage system designed by Minus40 was implemented.

The two-stage system is highly advantageous in that it has been programmed to automatically change from one-stage to two-stage in order to provide the temperatures specified by the facility technicians. This allows the use of more specialised systems (specialised for either higher or lower temperatures), and therefore is able to create significant energy savings. In this system, the low stage compressors run at low temperatures, and then switch off at higher temperatures. The high stage compressors, however, are on continuously, and alternate between high-stage and single-stage, depending on the temperature at which the system is required to run.

The design work was completed by Minus40 by late February, 2010 and by early July, 2010 the implementation of the designed system was complete. Since then, the design has been shown to be successful, and as stated by Darcy Wood at Ford, that the system has “actually exceeded our initial estimates”.