Coatings supplier Durr Industries recently was named a top supplier of FCA US, recognizing Durr for its assistance in launching the Jeep Compass at FCA's Toluca, Mexico, assembly plant. Paint plants are complex and sensitive pieces of the automaking process. Bruno Welsch, 52, CEO of the supplier's U.S. subsidiary, Durr Systems Inc., told News Editor Lindsay Chappell that there is much more going on in paint than meets the eye.
Q: We think of vehicle paint plants as being built to last a long time with no change. What does a coatings supplier have to do in 2018 to stand out as an innovative supplier?
A:The most recognized thing we've done is to improve the technology of application. We're reducing the amount of overspray and increasing the transfer efficiency. We can do it interior and exterior with the same robot. We also can make a color change in less than five seconds, and do it with very little solvent.
That means you can move vehicles through the system faster?
Well, it does mean that. But it could also mean that you can take more time to paint the car — spending more time on appearance. So you could increase production, or stay at the same production but with higher quality.
How important is the effort to reduce overspray?
Consider the numbers. A midsize car factory might produce 60 cars per hour. Reducing overspray could easily save you in the two-digit millions of dollars in paint cost.
What did you do at Toluca that earned you recognition from FCA?
It was a whole package — of introducing a new vehicle model with increased volume, while increasing quality and adding automation. In a three-month shutdown, we demolished the whole paint shop and built it back in new condition. We installed new conveyor systems and renovated the ovens and scrubbers and modified the booths to accommodate the robotics. We did it all in three months without losing a single vehicle of production.