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PPG Industries and Ford Australia: Performance Based Contracting reduces emissions from car body finishing

A Performance Based Contract between PPG Painting and Ford Australia has led to a reduction in VOC emission by 27% and water consumption by 32% within the painting operations. Simultaneously, paint quality has been improved leading to a reduction in the number of car bodies requiring re-painting.

Background

The Ford Broadmeadows Assembly Plant assembles the Falcon family of vehicles. Major components for the vehicle, including the engine and body panels are brought across from the Ford Geelong manufacturing operations. Other components, including seats, windows and lights are purchased from specialized suppliers.

PPG purchased the industrial paint division from Dulux Paint in 1998; at this time Dulux employed a number of staff directly at Ford Australia Plant in Broadmeadows. In late 1999, PPG and the Ford Motor Company entered into a Performance Based Contract (PBC) where PPG would be paid on a "per car body" rate for the supply of paint to the Broadmeadows plant. This agreement only covered new cars, and did not extend to the painting of parts etc. All paints are locally manufactured by PPG Industries Australia at Clayton, VIC, Australia. PPG is a member of the Responsible Care Program of the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association (PACIA). All paints are water-based, except for white and yellow topcoats and clear lacquer applied as finishing coat to metallic paints to act as a paint protector. All primers are solvent based at present.

Currently PPG have six employees located at the Ford plant. These staff are involved as chemical and process engineers overseeing and monitoring the painting operation, but are not currently directly involved with the activity of paint application.

Performance Based Contracts - An Important Eco-Efficiency Tool

PBC is a useful eco-efficiency tool that is particularly helpful in implementing Cleaner Production initiatives where the availability of capital or expertise may otherwise be limiting factors. Under PBC, a third party adopts the risk for managing a discrete part of an organisation's operations and gains financial rewards for increasing the efficiency of this aspect of the business. Depending on the terms of the agreement the savings made by the organisation are used to pay the consultant and to purchase equipment or upgrade services. Ongoing savings eventually fully benefit the principal organisation. PBC can be used for organisations' inputs and outputs and has been successfully used in areas such as transport, energy, waste and chemical use. More information about performance based contracts.

Processes and activities

Doors, bonnet and deck lid are added to cars moving along the assembly lines. The bodies are then conveyed to the Pre-treatment and Prime Facility for painting. Painting of new car bodies is carried out in four-stages

Pre-Treatment & Prime Facility

  1. Car bodies enter the facility where the first phase of the operation is the application of a phosphate coating to all internal and external panels by means of a 12 station system which takes the body through a series of large dip tanks, rinse baths and high-pressure spray rinses. This process adds corrosive resistance to the steel and enables better bonding of the paint to the body. PPG in turn have a PBC with their supplier of phosphate, whereby PPG are invoiced by the supplier on a car-body dipped basis.
  2. Next is the electrocoat process where a paint film is deposited on the body by immersion in a tank of water-based paint through which an electric current is passed. This system provides very even paint distribution while paint runs are eliminated by rinsing the body with demineralised water. The body is oven baked at 180 Degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. Body seams are then sealed to prevent water leaks and deadener pads are added for road noise reduction. Metal from this process has a familiar gray appearance.
  3. The next step is the primer booth where the primer coat is applied by a series of automatic (robot) and manual sprayers before the body is again baked at 140 Degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. This process utilises HVLP (high volume low pressure) paint guns to minimise "overspray" and "bounce-back".
  4. The final colour coats are then applied in the top coat facility, in several spray booths where automatic (robot) and manual systems are used side by side; again HVLP spray guns are used. This stage utilises water-borne paints, which are current best technology in the industry. The clearcoat finish is applied and the body receives its final oven baking.

The painting process accounts for just under 50% of the total amount of electricity consumed on the site (13% of combined gas and electricity in MJ/vehicle), 44 % of water consumption and 10 % of solid waste generation at the Broadmeadows's site.

Cleaner Production Initiatives


PPG

PPG monitor inputs and outputs, material specification with the phosphate and electronic paint baths, and the overall quality of the painting operation at Ford Australia.

Process Monitoring

The two paint-dipping (bath) systems require constant monitoring to ensure quality of output and the specification of the paint provides the most efficient production. Baths are tested for inputs, viscosity, Ph and solids.

Development and Testing of Paints

This involves the development of new paints and improving the quality of excisting products. This is both to meet new customer requirements and improve the excisting range of paints with regard to product durability and finish, and also to achieve better business and environmental outcomes.

PPG and Ford


Lead-free electrocoat

A lead-free electrocoating system was introduced progressively during 2002, improving the quality of the trade waste stream.

Reduced Nickel in Trade Waste

Upgraded the phosphating process with an auto sludge discharge process which improves the efficiency of the nickel removing process and consequently reduces nickel in the trade waste stream.

Ford's Trade Waste Treatment Plant

Ford's Trade Waste Treatment Plant


Programming of Robots and Robotic Technology

The programming of robots (bell) is constantly monitored to identify opportunities to improve the eco-efficiency of the painting operations.

New Spray Gun Technology

PPG are continually investigating the use of more advanced spray gun technology to again improve the eco-efficiency of the painting operations.

Improved Staff Training

Staff training is constantly provided to improve the efficiency of paint application and to minimise waste generation and water consumption while maintaining product quality is a continuing challenge conducted in collaboration between PPG and Ford Australia.

VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) Emissions

The most effective method of reducing VOC emissions is utilising cleaner production techniques to reduce raw material inputs that release these volatile air emissions in use. This not only generates less waste, but also makes sound financial sense.

The new application technology to reduce VOC emissions include:

Advantages of the process

Incentives

Both organisations have shown strong commitment to the principles of eco-efficiency and Sustainable Development. The PBC has led to a closer working relationship in which both organisations have improved their business and environmental efficiency.

Barriers

Increase in size of automobiles makes it difficult to reduce resource use per car body. Split management can cause delays in the upgrading of technology.

Further developments

PPG and Ford Australia are investigating a number of Cleaner Production initiatives to further increase the eco-efficiency of their painting operations:

Contacts

Andrew Bower
Operation Manager
PPG Industries
Email: andrewbower@ppg.com
Website: http://corporate.ppg.com/ppg/corporate/default.htm

Frank Bland
Site Environmental Engineer
Broadmeadows Assembly Plant
Ford Australia
Email: fbland@ford.com
Website: http://www.ford.com.au/home/home.asp

Case developed by the Centre of Excellence in Cleaner Production (Curtin University of Technology)
Last modified: June 2003