What is in this article?:
- Chrysler Sterling Heights Paint Shop Among Most Advanced
- $1.8 Million Saved in Annual Energy, Water Costs
Auto-adjusting inspection lighting, a new type of conveyer system and recaptured air for spray booths are some of the innovations at the automaker’s remade Detroit-area assembly plant.
Uwe Braun lights at Chrysler’s Sterling Heights’ paint shop.
STERLING HEIGHTS, MI – The major chunk ofAutomobiles’ $1 billion investment in this 60-year-old complex went toward building a new, 3-story, state-of-the-art paint shop.
Paint shops have become a key focus point for automakers, as increasingly stringent environmental emissions’ regulations, coupled with consumer expectations of a pristine finish on their vehicles, bring about sharp changes in methodologies and equipment.
’s new $850 million shop here adjacent to its vehicle-assembly plant building the new ’15 200 midsize sedan is no exception.
The nearly 1 million-sq.-foot (92,903-sq.-m) shop is double the size of the one it replaced and has several innovations for Chrysler and North American auto plants.
A North American-first is the plant’s auto-adjusting lighting in body inspection areas, supplied by Germany’s Uwe Braun.
Not only is it more energy efficient than the lighting in the old paint shop, it uses a camera to sense the color of a body entering an inspection booth, adjusting brighter for darker colors to unmask imperfections that can be hidden in poor light.
uses a similar system at its Audi plant in Neckarslum, Germany, home of the R8 sports car.
The adjustable lighting improves Chrysler’s “ability to identify defects that might be there, (and) there’s no (eye) fatigue on the operator,” Tyree Minner, Sterling Heights Assembly plant manager, tells media here during a tour.
Sedan bodies move through the various coating and painting stages and onto general assembly via 8 miles (13 km) of floor-mounted friction-driven conveyers, another North American-first.
Most paint shops use a chain-driven conveyer, which can track oil and paint chips throughout the plant.
“We don’t have chain, (so) we reduce the dirt and contamination going through the whole shop,” says Chris Kulka, paint-shop project manager.
He says the friction-drive system from supplier Jervis B. Webb uses smaller electric motors than a typical chain-driven line, and they only turn on when needed, another power-saving win for the automaker.