Ford India plant 3-Wet paint shop technology energy savings measure up
Ford Motor Company, being the first auto maker to introduce 3-Wet Technology in 2007 is gearing to augment this facility by 50% in the current year. The company will be adding four additional plants to this network of operations, out of which two facilities are in the US, while one is in China and the other in Spain.
Presently, the company has eight plants in the US, Asia Pacific and Europe all using this 3-Wet technology which has gone a long way in ensuring that the company reduces their CO2 emissions to tune of 30%. This technology has also played a major role in reducing volatile organic compound emission by 10% when compared to conventional high-solids solvent-borne or waterborne systems. During 2013, a total of 12 Ford plants will be equipped for using this 3-Wet technology for painting of Ford vehicles. The company is in process of making extensive long term plans to expand this process to other facilities as well. Bruce Hettle, Director of Manufacturing Engineering said, “The 3-Wet paint process is significantly more advanced than conventional technologies in applying durable paints in a high-quality, environmentally sound and cost-efficient manner.”
3-Wet technology for painting of vehicles gets its name from the fact that this process involves a total of three layers, with paint being applied one after the other even before the previous coat has been cured. Due to this new technology, the process of standalone primer application is done away with while a special oven which was needed in the conventional process is also now redundant. Painting in the 3-Wet system now entails primer, base coat and clear coat all applied in quick succession minus the in between baking stages, and this allows Ford to stick to top quality, long-term durability, and chip and scratch resistance.
In fact, Ford India’s Chennai plant was the first plant to use the new Three-Wet High-Solids paint technology that sees robots apply primer, base coat and clear coats. At the Chennai Plant, heat recovery is optimized by utilizing exhaust heat air to heat fresh air. This is done through a heat exchanger in Topcoat oven and E coat ovens. The eco-friendly system uses propane gas as a fuel instead of diesel in the ovens. At the plant VOC emission has been reduced by 23%, which is the best in the Ford Asia Pacific region. Dock-to-Dock time has been reduced by 40%, and CO2 emission by 21%. Water consumption reduction has been recorded at 15000 KL/ annum. Resultantly, energy saved at the Ford India paint shop equates to 27.6 million kWh/annum. This can be used to power almost 12,000 households in Chennai each year or to power Chennai street night lights for about 4 months.