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Developing the right mix for greener paint shops

A great challenge for the automotive industry is to find paint-shop solutions that cut costs, lower energy usage and are more eco-friendly all while maintaining superior quality and competitive cost per body. One of the leaders in the field is the Italy-based Geico Taikisha Group. Its new Pardis Innovation Centre is targeted to introduce a “self-sufficient” paint shop by June 16, 2020. The Pardis Innovation Centre houses Geico’s new prototypes such as J-Jump, J-Flex, Amir booth, a new liquid booth Hydrospin-plus, Dryspin scrubber, E3 booth and ovens, and Dryflex.

The Innovation Centre seeks to develop innovative and concrete technological solutions for the automotive paintshop. According to Geico, paint-shops consume around 70% of electrical energy and 80% of heat energy used in vehicle production. Painting a vehicle body produces about 235 kg of CO2, and this is only when considering electric/heating and refrigeration consumptions. In addition, the energy consumption of a paint-shop processing around 300,000 jobs/year is about 250 GWh. This is equivalent to the power needed by a city of 50,000 inhabitants. The concept of a self-sufficient paint shop aims at cutting the energy used in regular paint shops. This project is being undertaken by Geico’s Pardis division, which is dedicated to finding more eco-friendly and energy-smart solutions. An Interactive Engineering Laboratory – IEL – installed at Pardis Innovation Centre models on a one-to-one scale new plant technology by creating an immersive reality that allows re-engineering of the plant in real time in order to tailor it to meet the customer’s requirements.

Recently Avtovaz awarded Geico a new complete paint shop for its plant in Togliattigrad, Russia. This was confirmed right after the completion of a previous paint shop, which was commissioned in 2012. “It is a true honor for us to be selected by Avtovaz and receive another confirmation of Renault Nissan Alliance’s trust in Geico’s technology for one of the biggest plants in the world both in terms of production capacity and overall area covered”, said Ali Reza Arabnia, Chairman, President & CEO of Geico Taikisha Group. The new paint shop, which is designed to handle an annual capacity of 300,000 passenger cars, is part of an important automotive facility which produces about one million cars a year over 90 miles of production lines. For Geico it marks a great step during its 50 year celebrations this year. Geico Taikisha, is one of the largest multinational specialists in original coating plants for the automotive industry. Founded in 1963, it has been providing turnkey projects for the world’s leading automotive brands including Renault, Hyundai, Honda, Mitsubishi, General Motors, KIA, Tata Motors, MAN Force Trucks, Fiat, Avtovaz, Ford, Qoros, and many others. At the turn of this century, and in response to changes in the auto manufacturing sector, Geico decided to position itself into a global supplier focussed on complete paint plants. In 2006 the company se¬cured the rights to world exclusive use of Haden’s intellectual proper¬ties, and in August 2008 Geico Group acquired its registered patents, trademarks and references as the sole owner. In 2006 Geico also launched the allGeicoProject, an international network of partner companies which offers Geico-Haden’s technology and services to worldwide customers. In September 2008 Geico initiated a world meeting – Geico Global Convention.

All partners attended with the purpose of creating a compact and close group able to face the complex challenges of the automotive market in a methodical and passionate way to deliver a unique value to its customers. In May 2011 the natural evolution of the allGeicoProject led Geico to sign an important alliance agreement with the Japanese turnkey paint shop giant Taikisha. In 2009, Geico started work on the Pardis Innovation Centre R&D facility. Its primary aim is to test prototypes for new technologies with a focus on cutting energy consumption while offering total flexibility to customers. This year will see the company inaugurating its new headquarters and Pardis Innovation Centre. Geico works closely with its customers to identify the needs of the industry. “As a tool, the concept of ‘Experiment Day’ has been put in action with several customers since its inception. During these Experiment Days – after the visit of the center and the consequent evaluation of what is seen – various ‘brainstorming’ meetings take place by which we determine what are our customers’ critical issues in the coming years and assign teams to reach the adequate solutions,” says the company.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Arabnia what progress had been made in the development of a self-sufficient paint shop.

Arabnia: Quite amazing. We began our project of “Energy Independence Day” in 2005 where the benchmark was 900 Kw per body energy consumption. Today we are at 425, that exceeds the target of 55% reduction.

AI: How close are we to a zero-emission paint shop?

Arabnia: We have already reduced CO2 emissions by 35%, which shows us that we are on the right path.

AI: How would you rate the success of the Pardis Innovation Centre?

Arabnia: Way better than we expected. The “Experiment Days” with global customers have given us an incredible opportunity to understand their needs in order to develop perceivable, measurable, and applicable and innovative solutions.

AI: How does your company customize solutions according to a customer’s requirements?

Arabnia: Every customer has its own peculiarities due to many dynamics. We understand that, and so we listen actively and effectively to what they have to say about our proposed solutions, which we then adapt to meet the specific requirements of the client.

AI: What are the trends in technology?

Arabnia: In the case of new technologies, we see keen interest by our customers in the E3 booths and ovens, as are the new versions of rotating dipping conveyors, such as J-Max.

AI: What are you doing to encourage innovation?

Arabnia: The most exciting part of our new center is the well-being area called “Laura’s Garden of Thoughts”. This is a 2,000 sqm location dedicated to our employees where they can meditate on innovative ideas, as well as regenerative thoughts

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