Volkswagen’s new automated system

improves efficiency and reduces waste

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Volkswagen Group South Africa’s (VWSA) Paint Shop has introduced advanced automated robot technology in the Base Coat Interior painting process which has resulted in a massive reduction in hazardous waste and led to a dramatic improvement in painting efficiency levels.

This fully automated interior painting process has yielded cost savings due to a more controlled paint application process which reduces overspray and waste. Improved quality, consistency and productivity are also beneficial advantages of this new process.

The project was split into two phases, with the first phase taking place during the end of last year. This was really the background support work which was necessary in order to install the robots in the second phase.

“Last year, the maintenance team drastically modified the spray booths by installing steelwork structures needed to support the new robots as well as installing and testing a new high transfer conveyor system,” explained Nico Serfontein, Head of Paint Shop.

The second phase of the project was completed in mid-May and involved the actual installation and testing of the robots in the Base Coat Interior spray booths.

While the new process has only been running for a few weeks, the savings are already evident. Not only is VWSA improving their efficiency and productivity levels but they are also improving their energy efficiency.

Serfontein added: “Since the installation of the new system, we have seen improved paint transfer efficiency and also need less airflow in the Base Coat Interior area, leading to a decrease in waste and energy usage.”

“So far, in the area, we have seen a reduction in energy usage by 8.8 %, a reduction in hazardous waste by 39 % and improved paint transfer efficiency to levels above 65 %.”

These production enhancements are in line with the Volkswagen Group’s Think Blue. Factory strategy which aims to reduce the environmental impact by 25% per car produced.

Since 2010, VWSA has reduced its total annual energy consumption by 19.3% and the energy usage per vehicle produced by 24%.  Also the CO? emissions have been reduced by 21% and other environmental initiatives resulted in a 53% reduction in waste to Landfill, 42% reduction in water usage and 22% improvement in solvent emissions.

The next phase of the project will see the installation of similar robots in the Clear Coat area, which is scheduled to start in 2017.

“We aim to continually improve and enhance our production activities in order to lessen our carbon footprint and improve our energy performance,” concluded Thomas Schaefer, VWSA Managing Director.


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