As I write this we are in a season of great endeavour and achievement. In the UK we are hosting the Olympics where the competitors are striving to deliver winning performances and competing in a fair and respectful way.

Pride, passion and respect are also found in the paint industry, as this edition of APS tries to illustrate: from the men and women crafting Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, the team painting Vauxhall, Nissan and Renault vans to an automobile standard, to the innovative equipment maker Geico, with its respect for the environment shown in its plans for an energy-neutral paintshop by 2020.

In every place I traveled to research this issue I found paintshop experts going to extraordinary lengths to deliver the highest level of finish and quality. At the same time they were mindful of the paintshop’s impact on the environment. One of these exceptional people is Lisa Taylor, a hand finisher at Rolls-Royce, who told me of her love for her job: “In the Surface Finish Centre, we check the painted body for any slight imperfections, partly by sight, but more by hand. I then gently sand and polish it, it takes three hours to polish a light colour to get it to my satisfaction, and up to five hours on a dark colour. I am very proud when I see it finished, with the beautiful colour combinations of the paint, the wood and the leather.”

At GM Vauxhall’s Luton plant, Mick Bewley, the Paint Process and Quality Manager, enjoys teaching manual painting techniques at many of GM Europe’s facilities: “I’ve made so many good friends by just showing them how to perfect their technique and take greater pride in getting the best finish.”

With the equipment providers and chemical companies constantly innovating energy-saving and environmentally friendly processes and materials to conserve and protect our planet’s finite and vulnerable resources, the future looks very positive for the automotive paintshop.

Indeed the image of the paintshop, in a macro view of plant structure, is changing. From being viewed by many facility planners and manufacturing managers as a costly and sometimes tiresome bottleneck and cost centre, paintshop is increasingly leading the way in innovating quality audit systems, imaginative efficiency improvements and energy-saving initiatives.