Both high-volume manufacturers and small e-car startups are making the switch from rigid to more flexible manufacturing processes, as they respond more quickly to customer and market demands. To address this with the paint application process, engineering firm Dürr recently announced its new “Paint shop of the future” concept, which breaks away from a traditional line layout and splits industrial automotive painting into boxes or short process sections.
The company said the concept gives the automotive industry “a new level of flexibility in their processes and investments,” while also saving time, material, increasing availability and making painting more sustainable.
“With the ‘Paint shop of the future,’ Dürr is reimagining the painting process and moving beyond the boundaries of the production line,” said Bruno Welsch, member of the company’s board of management. “The new approach adapts to the needs of manufacturers, and enables an efficient and flexible painting process in every production scenario.”
Dürr said one of the reasons they developed their new model was due to fixed cycle times, which are typically based on the biggest model and the longest paint and sealer application times. If smaller or less complex bodies could be transported faster and sealer and paint application times reduced, this would save time and increase output – but the fixed cycle does not allow for this, the company said.
Parallel paint processes instead of single line
The concept’s general idea is to split up the 120 work steps involved in a painting process into boxes and smaller sections. “Instead of a fixed cycle, the process times in each box are precisely adapted to the needs of the individual body,” Dürr said. Processes run in parallel in the boxes, interacting with a central high-bay storage system and the company’s EcoProFleet automated guided vehicle (AGV) system. The company’s DXQcontrol software controls the AGV fleet, guiding them with the card bodies to the next processes, ensuring efficient utilization of all the boxes. “It enables the bodies to be sorted in anticipation of future processes, brought to and collected from the right workstation with pinpoint accuracy, and passed off to final assembly at the end in the sequence planned by the manufacturer,” Dürr said. The concept enables expansion of capacities or smooth integration of new models, and the box concept can be applied to the entire top coat and workstation area, or just to selected process steps.
The box concept means that three painting processes – the inner and two outer applications – can be combined in jut one booth. The company’s patent-pending concept, the EcoProBooth, aims to save process time, since two of the three conveying processes are eliminated. Paint loss during the color change process can be reduced by up to 10% if just one paint is applied in a box, for example, the top seller white, Dürr said. “Spilitting up the painting process into boxes shortens the overall process by tailoring the application time to the individual vehicle,” the company said. In addition, these properties help reduce carbon dioxide and VOC emissions. Equipment availability also increases, since any malfunction only impacts the box section and question, and doesn’t affect the entire production line, in contrast to a more classical line manufacturing model. The variable model also lets companies integrate special processes, such as a special paint supply or overspray-free two-tone painting.
Dürr said its concept can be geared to specific requirements of various OEMs – offering high-volume manufacturers with a high hourly capacity the opportunity to integrate new models and technologies; companies that want to limit initial investment can expand from 24 units per hour to 48 and 72 units in two steps. Startups in the electric mobility space “can start their manufacturing with minimal quantities and gradually expand as demand increases,” Dürr said. The company said its concept is Industry 4.0 capable, and can combined with the company’s intelligent software products and analysis tools.