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Paint it black

Paint it black
Model variation and sequenced production are not new concepts in automotive production. However, the low volume / high variation model mix is still presenting challenges in unexpected areas of the manufacturing supply chain.

A case in point is in the paint shop area, specifically where fixed track systems are used to take raw body shells through the initial priming process. Given the increasing complexity of body shapes passing through the dipping process, OEMs have found that problems can occur with unwanted bubbles. This is a big problem, as areas of the body can come through the dipping process with vital areas of bare metal, caused by the unseen effect of hidden air pockets that may travel across the body as it undergoes the priming process.

Given the trend towards more flexible manufacturing systems, which typically produce several different body shapes from one production line, it’s no surprise that the problem of bubbles is becoming more common.

To combat this issue, Daifuku Automotive Factory Automation (AFA), which works with Honda, Nissan, JLR and JCB in the UK, has developed a flexible solution, which enables different body shapes to be dipped, as opposed to driven through the paint process. Controlled by programmable header units, each model variant enters the coating bath at a different angle, following a different route profile through the paint to ensure that all rouge bubbles are eliminated from the process.

Paul Mack, project manager at Daifuku Europe, said: “The beauty of our E-Dip system is its flexibility, so that each body shape is handled through the process in its own unique profile.

“This solution has improved productivity, energy efficiency and reduced costs, especially in lower volume manufacturing environments. In markets such as the UK and Europe, where we’re seeing a renaissance of niche OEMs, this kind of solution could be a central part of their paint shop strategy.”

Already, the E-Dip system has proven effective in Japan, where Mitsubishi among others, has adopted this flexible approach to the paint shop at its Nagoya plant.