When the Ford India Sanand plant is completed in 2014 , it will have a capacity to produce 300,000 passenger cars per year. The existing Chennai plant and this newly developed plant have joint production capacity of 500,000 units per year with a capability to further expand to meet cycle plan requirements. The integrated manufacturing facility in Sanand includes stamping, body, paint and assembly operations for vehicle and engine manufacturing.

Ford plans to introduce some eight models in the country by mid-decade, and expects that by 2020 India would be the third largest market for Ford after China and the US. The paint shop at Sanand, installed by integrator Dürr, will be able to paint 68 units per hour and will adopt Dürr’s state-of-the-art Rotational Dip (RoDip) technology in the pre-treatment and electro dipping operations. The rotational movement of the car body in the RoDip tank is designed to guarantee uniform cleaning and coating.

The Ecopure TAR exhaust air purification system is used with the straight-through ovens for cathodic dip-coating and topcoat. This purifies the process exhaust air through incineration. The residual heat from the purified exhaust air is fed back into the production process by downstream heat recovery systems. The application of exterior base coat and clear coat takes place fully automatically with 32 Ecopaint Robot RP L033 painting robots in two painting lines. All robots are equipped with the EcoBell2 high-speed rotating atomiser. The paintshop uses the Ecopaint Clean system for body cleaning prior to painting.

Underbody and rocker panel sealing is taken care of by eight Ecopaint RS 16 robots. New conveyor tech for a better product The conventional conveying technologies in pretreatment and electro coat require larger footprints and higher overhead costs in terms of power, fuel, chemicals and people. “Conventional overhead conveyors will have a longer inclined dip section at the entrance & exit of the tank,” Girish Kumar, general manager – paint at Sanand says. “RoDip conveyors with steep drop-in for car bodies and the 360°rotation means there is no need for inclined sections at the entrance and exit of the dip tank and thus the dip tank is significantly shortened.

“The technology achieves a higher quality product as the 360° rotation eliminates trapped air bubbles in the body structure and ensures complete coverage of the protecting electro coat.”

The RoDip technology from Dürr will help lower the relative building cost by 8 per cent, bulk material inventory cost by about 4 per cent and personnel cost by 42 per cent and achieve energy savings of about 35 per cent. Overall, the new technology will result in a benefit of 16 per cent compared to the conventional system.

Ford’s first 3-wet rolled out in India
Ford, which was the first automaker to implement the highsolids solvent-borne 3-Wet technology in 2007, currently has eight plants in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe that use the process. The OEM started the process at its Chennai plant in India, as Girish Kumar says: “Chennai is the first Ford car plant in the world – and Ford is the only manufacturer in India – to use new 3-Wet high-solids paint technology.” The 3-Wet paint technology uses a high-solids, solvent-borne paint formulation that reduces environmental footprint & produces fewer emissions than current waterborne and solventborne paints, while maintaining long-term paint durability. “These are the current leading edge technologies,” Kumar says, “RoDip technology and 3-Wet technology contribute to our manufacturing metrics of safety, quality, green, delivery, cost, people, maintenance and environment and therefore they are now adopted as the Standard Global Bill of Process (BoP) for Ford paint shops.”

The new technologies in the Sanand Assembly Plant paint shop, aside from the 3-Wet high solids paint technology and RoDip phosphate/E-coat system, include oven abatement system (TAR) to minimise VOC emissions, heat recovery to minimise energy usage, highly efficient electric pumps for paint circulation and zero waste water discharge from the site. “The paint facility will comply with Ford’s Global Paint Standard BoP requirements, which incorporate a balance between manual/robotic processes to achieve required investment efficiency,” Kumar adds. “The introduction of 3-Wet high solid paint technology and RoDip in the upcoming manufacturing facility at Sanand are step changes to introduce best-in-class, state-of-the-art technologies to India.” The Sanand paint shop facility will have the flexibility to support various models, and not just in painting: the robotic applications for under body spray sealer are fully flexible programmable facilities.

Lean and green
When it comes to the environment Ford is pulling out all the stops. “A number of design features to reduce VOC will deliver best-in-class in India,” Kumar says. “Features including robotic processing, elimination of equipment and associated pollutants, and increased line speed result in fewer CO2 emissions per year compared to waterborne systems and conventional highsolvent- borne systems.

“RoDip will help achieve relative energy savings of about 35 per cent. For example, in our Chennai facility, the energy saved in the paint shop - 27.6 million kWh per year – is enough to power almost 12,000 households in Chennai for a year, or to light up the entire Chennai street lights at night for almost four months.

“Ford’s commitment to environment infuses in every aspect of our business. Through the deployment of advanced technologies, we are committed to delivering the bestin- class fuel efficiency with every new vehicle we introduce to benefit our customers' pockets and contribute to a greener future. At our manufacturing facilities, across day-to-day operations, world over, we reduce water usage, lessen the amount of waste sent to landfills and are pursuing an integrated air emissions control approach that also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves energy efficiency. In the last six years, Ford has cut energy use by 22 per cent in our global manufacturing facilities. Ford plant in Chennai has achieved 100 per cent water recycling, zero liquid discharge and zerowaste- to landfill.

“Our team prioritises environmental protection needs and that is inbuilt in our strategy over the years and our commitment is unwavering. We review our progress through various checks and processes, especially developed to track and monitor environmental and business progress and impact.” Next year will see the plant open and herald a new era for Ford in India.