Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Hoping to maintain what it considers a competitive edge in vehicle painting, Ford Motor Co. has launched another innovative process for coating vehicles cost effectively, with minimal environmental impact and outstanding durability.

Bruce Hettle, executive director-manufacturing engineering at Ford, discusses the new Compact Painting Process during his World Class Manufacturing presentation here at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars.

The process further leverages Ford’s application of its “3-Wet” paint technology, which allows coatings to be applied wet, instead of heating and drying each layer individually with energy-consuming ovens. A simple integrated booth replaces multiple stages in the paint shop.

The Dearborn, MI, auto maker, along with its suppliers, launched the Compact Painting Process more than a year ago at the company’s Econoline van plant in Avon Lake, OH.

“We have this in Nanjing, China, in production, and it will be in production in Cuautitlan (Mexico) in the first half next year with (the) new Fiesta,” Hettle says at the conference.

“It will be in the Craiova, Romania, plant, and we’re doing facility work there as we speak,” he says.

“We’re launching now in India, and we have people at the Michigan Assembly complex (formerly Michigan Truck Plant) with suppliers changing that plant over for this manufacturing process.”

Michigan Assembly will be home to Ford Focus production next year.

With such a rapid global rollout, Hettle says Ford will achieve significant economies of scale, saving between $5 and $10 per vehicle on a cost-per-unit basis. Each application of the process will save Ford about $25 million, he says.

Other advantages include reducing processing time more than 20%, carbon-dioxide emissions 50% and volatile organic compound emissions 5%.

Ford’s painting processes helped the auto maker win the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s coveted Energy Star Award earlier this year.

tmurphy@wardsauto.com