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Conserving resources during automotive production with integrated paint process

November 29, 2016

The BMW Group is saving 12,000 tons of CO2 annually during automotive production at its Munich plant by eliminating one step from the paint process. This means that compared to a conventionally coated vehicle, a car coated with the shortened process can drive the first 420 kilometers with a net zero carbon footprint. In addition, the process saves as much energy as the amount needed by 250,000 Munich residents to wash one load of laundry every week.

These are the findings of a new TÜV-certified study conducted by the BMW Group together with the mechanical and plant engineering firm Dürr and BASF’s coatings experts. They aimed to find out how the eco-efficiency of the OEM coating process can be improved allowing resources to be conserved at the same time. “The paint process is one of the most energy-intensive process steps involved in industrial automotive manufacturing,” said Dr. Hans Schumacher, head of Dürr’s Application Technology division. “We have consolidated the expertise of three companies in order to make paint processes even more environmentally friendly in the future,” said Lars Nigge, Account Manager BMW at BASF’s Coatings division.

The study specifically compared two primer-based coating processes to the integrated paint process without primer. In conventional systems, the primer smoothens surface irregularities and protects the cathodic e-coat, the undermost paint layer, from UV radiation. BASF was able to substitute the primer by integrating its protective properties into a newly developed waterborne basecoat layer. In all categories included in the study, the “Integrated Process” proved to be the most beneficial. Compared to the current primer process, the Integrated Process reduces energy consumption and CO2 emissions by around 20 percent and saves costs.

Eco-Efficiency Analysis by BASF

The study was based on real-life data from 2014 evaluated with the Eco-Efficiency Analysis developed by BASF. The analysis will help BASF and its customers decide which products and processes are the best choice for a defined benefit, both ecologically and economically. The study has been validated by TÜV (German technical inspection and certification organization) and NSF (National Sanitation Foundation).

When it comes to sustainability in the automotive industry, the focus is directed more and more at manufacturing processes. In addition to the utilization phase, the production phase is now being examined more closely. “It is no longer just a question of whether a product is sustainable in consumption but also whether it has been manufactured sustainably,” said Nigge. “The study's findings provide compelling evidence that the Integrated Process is one of the most eco-efficient solutions.”