in Vol. 12 - July Issue - Year 2011
A Bright Outlook For The Environment
Dirk Gorges, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing, D

Dirk Gorges, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing, D

By using air recirculation and dry filters the EcoDryScrubber saves up to 60% energy in the paint booth

By using air recirculation and dry filters the EcoDryScrubber saves up to 60% energy in the paint booth

High rotation atomizer EcoBell3 suitable for interior and exterior painting

High rotation atomizer EcoBell3 suitable for interior and exterior painting

The rotational dip coating RoDip helps to save resources through optimized immersion and retrieval phases and correspondingly low carryover

The rotational dip coating RoDip helps to save resources through optimized immersion and retrieval phases and correspondingly low carryover

Dürr is one of the world's leading suppliers of products, systems, and services, mainly for automobile manufacturing. MFN had the chance to talk to Mr. Dirk Gorges, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing, Dürr Paint and Final Assembly Systems.

(?) MFN: Sustainability is the order of the day! What strategies does Dürr as a leading provider pursue in order to build energy-saving and environmentally friendly paint shops?

(!) D. G.: Efficiency in the use of energy and resources is more than just a trendy slogan to us. We began to focus on this issue years ago to consciously develop technologies that enable the automotive industry to manufacture on a sustainable basis. The Green Paintshops that we are currently realizing around the world are testimony to our commitment to sustainable solutions.

We have closely analyzed the entire painting process, and the results of this examination form the basis for our Green Paintshop. At the same time our know-how gained through many projects allows the optimal coordination of all interfaces.

(?) MFN: What is your assessment of the willingness for automotive manufacturers to invest in the topic of sustainability?

(!) D. G.: Automobile manufacturers are doing everything possible to reduce the CO2 emissions of their vehicles. They are reducing vehicle weights, improving fuel combustion or reducing frictional and rolling resistance. But here is a topic that is easily overlooked: Of the 27 tons of carbon dioxide that a mid-sized car produces "in the course of its life," at least 6 tons are already accounted for during the production process. This corresponds to a distance driven of 40,000 kilometers.

This is where Dürr comes into the picture: with our innovative production methods, we ensure that these “fictitious” first 40,000 kilometers for each vehicle are as eco-friendly as possible. And more and more customers appreciate this, especially as they are able to produce even more economically with energy and material saving technologies from Dürr.

(?) MFN: Can sustainable painting be quantified?

(!) D. G.: For painting one car body, the Green Paintshop from Dürr, like the one currently being built in China, requires only about 500 kilowatt hours of energy. That is a third of what was possible just a few years ago. Emissions of volatile organic compounds turn out to be about 70% lower than they were ten years ago, while fresh water consumption and effluent will be reduced at around 60% each. Our processes are carefully coordinated with each other. The result is an optimized overall system with a number of improvements which interact to achieve an enormous positive effect.
(?) MFN: Can you identify some examples of areas that you specifically target?

(!) D. G.: The centerpiece of the Green Paintshop concept from Dürr is the optimization of the spray booths. Previously a large amount of energy was required, since new fresh air constantly had to be brought to the right temperature and humidified to create the optimum conditions for paint application. Not so with our new EcoDryScrubber painting booth system: With this technology, the cabin air does not have to be constantly replaced; it can instead be re-used through air recirculation. In this way, up to 60% of the energy previously required in the painting booths can be saved.

(?) MFN: So why hasn‘t a conversion to air recirculation occurred earlier?

(!) D. G.: Dry separation is the decisive impetus for the use of air recirculation, because the air in the spray booth does not come into contact with water and therefore hardly absorbs any moisture. The reason for this is that the EcoDryScrubber does not separate the overspray with water, as had been customary in the past, but rather with a special limestone powder and dry filters. As a result, the humidity in the cabin remains unchanged.

(?) MFN: Can’t the overspray you mentioned be reduced?

(!) D. G.: Naturally we have also set the highest goals for ourselves in the field of application technology. A good example of this is the new EcoBell3 high rotation atomizer for electrostatic paint application. The paint droplets become electrostatically charged with a voltage of up to 100,000 volts as they leave the atomizer and are attracted to the grounded car body. Our Green Paintshop concept allows this method to be used not only in the application of the first basecoat layer, but also in the second basecoat layer, for which pneumatic atomizers were often used until now. This switch pays off: electrostatic atomization with the EcoBell3 is significantly more efficient than pneumatic spray painting. Therefore substantial savings of paint can be achieved with the second basecoat application.

(?) MFN: Is material savings the only advantage of this new high-rotation atomizer?

(!) D. G.: This pioneering technology has opened up even more savings potential. The consistent use of the EcoBell3 saves energy as well, while in every painting booth a downdraft must be created in order to remove the overspray out of the booth. Since the electrostatic EcoBell3 creates less overspray than a pneumatic atomizer, less downdraft air is required. The plant operator therefore needs less energy to produce the downdraft.

And one should not forget this fact: this atomizer has succeeded for the first time at making external charging so compact that painting the interior of vehicles is also possible with it. The great advantage here is a substantial reduction in the complexity of the application system for water-borne paint. Potential separation systems can now be dispensed with. Since exterior and interior painting can be performed with the same atomizer, entirely new possibilities for the layout design of paint shops have emerged.

(?) MFN: Has this exhausted the "green" potentials for paint application?

(!) D. G.: No – in fact far from it. The EcoLCC color changer makes an additional contribution to the reduction of material consumption. It reduces paint loss in color changes from a previous 40 to 50 milliliters to less than 10 milliliters. Furthermore, the EcoLCC reduces the consumption of the partly solvent-based purging agent that is needed for cleaning the paint lines: with this new technology, 50 to 100 milliliters of purging agent can be saved per cleaning pass.

(?) MFN: But Dürr’s activities aren’t limited only to the spray booth, are they?

(!) D. G.: No, as mentioned earlier, our approach is holistic and the processes are carefully coordinated with each other. One example is the increased use of thermal wheels. With them, warm exhaust air can be used to heat fresh air, which reduces the consumption of natural gas. We are installing thermal wheels throughout the Green Paintshop. They preheat the air at the work stations for seam sealing, sanding and cavity sealing. Thermal wheels are also used to precondition the fresh air supply for the spray booths.

Dürr also offers an efficient solution for air purification. Pollutants contained in exhaust air are incinerated in our Ecopure TAR (TNV) purification system. This thermal exhaust-air cleaning system works with the new TARCOM V burner system, which requires less natural gas and reduces nitrogen oxide emissions. The waste heat produced by incinerating the pollutants is put to efficient use: for heating up the car body dryer and for generating hot water.

(?) MFN: To what extent can the energy efficiency of a paint shop be influenced as early as in the conceptual design phase?

(!) D. G.: Shortening the painting process has positive effects on a paint shop’s ecobalance. In the so-called primerless painting process, the primer coat application is completely omitted. The base coat takes on the functions of the primer – compensating for unevenness and protecting against stone chipping and UV radiation. This does away with the need for primer booths and primer ovens, and the energy required for operating both subsections.

At the pretreatment and cathodic dip-coating stations we use our space-saving RoDip process. This reduces the length of the tanks in which the car bodies are cleaned, degreased and provided with corrosion protection. This not only saves water but also energy for heating the tanks and the operating of the circulation pumps. In addition, fewer chemicals need to be added.

(?) MFN: Let’s leave the technology aspects and turn to economic issues. We need to talk about the current market situation. How important are the emerging markets for you?

(!) D. G.: The incoming orders for Dürr in 2010 rose sharply with an increase of 39%. We were able to count on our excellent position in China, which we had already strengthened during the crisis. Over a third of our orders in 2010 came from China, where the automotive industry has reacted to the booming demand by investing heavily in capacity extension.

Meanwhile, our business is back but on a broader foundation. In the first quarter of 2011, Dürr has received orders for the construction of paint shops from Brazil, China, India, Hungary, Mexico and Morocco. This shows that investment activity in the automotive industry has also widely revived to a noticeable degree. Here, our worldwide presence, accumulated over decades, is paying off.

(?) MFN: What are the specific advantages that Dürr gains from its global positioning?

(!) D. G.: Our business locations can handle a large portion of their projects independently and with a high level of local content. This puts us in a position to use the local cost advantages to the benefit of our customers. In the boom market China, we can generate up to 70% of the added value in building a paint shop locally. At the same time, our Chinese colleagues receive comprehensive support from the international Dürr Group network as needed. This division of labor is very efficient thanks to uniform processes and IT systems. With a total of nearly 3,000 employees and wide-ranging expertise in development, engineering and procurement, our international locations are effective local partners for our customers. They receive support in terms of innovation, basic engineering and project management from the headquarters in Germany.

(?) MFN: Why are you currently represented so strongly in China, the number one growth market?

(!) D. G.: With its dynamic growth, China is the world’s most important single market for us. We have more than 1,000 regular employees and external staff working at our four Chinese locations – far more than any other supplier in our field of activity. Even in the midst of the financial crisis we expanded our capacity, since we have always been convinced of the prospects of the Chinese market.

An important reason for this success is our strong local presence that we have established with long-standing employees. We rely primarily on local experts, also at management level. And it pays off: Customers have come to trust us and see us now as a "local player", since we built our first paint shop in China as early as 1983 and founded a Dürr corporation in Shanghai with its own production in 1997. Since 2005, we have been manufacturing in our workshop in Qingpu on 7,600 square meters and the current capacity will be effectively doubled by the end of the year.

Our customers associate the Dürr name with German state-of-the-art technology and reliability. They also appreciate the fact that Dürr is on the scene with complete services, even after commissioning: from spare parts purchase to modernization, optimization and capacity expansion.

(?) MFN: How do you assess your further development?

(!) D. G.: We have good reason for confidence: Dürr is extremely well-positioned globally, and generates new customers without losing sight of its regular customers. What’s more, is that we also have a technologically leading range of products and technologies available. Our most important customer group, the automotive industry, will probably increase production in the coming years by 6 to 7% per year. These are all facts that allow us to look positively into the future.

We would like to thank Dirk Gorges for this interview!

For Information:
Dürr Systems GmbH
Carl-Benz-Strasse 34
74321 Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany
Tel. +49.7142.78.2614
Fax +49.7142.78.1600
E-mail: guenter.buzer@durr.com