Top 3 Automotive Coatings Sustainability Tactics

Today, almost every automaker across the globe has moved to a shorter, more sustainable paint line model in at least on of its plants. BASF pioneered the method, called the Integrated Process, in 1996. And to this day, it offers significant sustainability benefits for OEMs by reducing the time, material and energy consumption necessary at the plant.

The process is completely customizable to the different iterations of paint lines but most notably, involves eliminating the bake needed after the primer is applied to the vehicle.

One of our core customers, Honda, is no stranger to this process. The automaker implemented BASF's shortened Integrated Process in their Yorii, Japan plant in 2013 and is continuing to implement it across North America. Honda was also one of the first OEMs to use only waterborne coatings, a more eco-friendly option.

It goes beyond a single OEM though. BASF is continually looking for ways to innovate and contribute to a more sustainable future for all automotive paint lines.

"It is important to have a clear focus for the future - we are asking ourselves 'where do we want to be in 2020?' and 'how do we get there?'"

In 2012, BASF conducted an in-depth Eco-Efficiency Analysis of Global Coating Processes in partnership with Durr, a coating application manufacturer, to measure the impact of sustainability initiatives on a paint line's full eco-system. The report outlined three ways today's coatings teams can improve process sustainability.

  1. Use an integrated process - It reduces CO2 emissions by up to 20 percent, saves energy costs by as much as 20 percent and reduces material consumption and improves productivity.
  1. Embrace a waterborne system - Thanks to the significantly lower level of emissions of solvents or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), waterborne systems show strong results with respect to eco-efficiency.
  1. Incorporate modern paint line and application technologies - There are potential sustainability savings available with respect to energy consumption of spraybooths if they are operated in recirculating air. This is especially important if the line uses a solvent borne paint.

Top 3 Automotive Coatings Sustainability Tactics Pictured above is the final inspection of a car body in BASF's Integrated Process.

Automakers and suppliers are constantly researching new technologies, such as painting vehicles made with mixed materials, UV-light curing and bio-based material coatings - all of which could have an impact on the line's sustainability.