VW starts installing equipment at paint shop

VW starts installing equipment at paint shop

November 3rd, 2009 by Mike Pare in Volkswagen

Volkswagen's paint shop will produce cars that may be red, blue and black. But workers installing the facility's first equipment Monday are thinking green.

"It will be one of the greenest paint shops," said Ralf Voellinger of Eisenmann AG. "There is a lot of new technology going into this."

The massive building, with the equivalent of seven football fields under roof, is combining the best of VW's paint shops across the world, said Lothar Grensemann, the facility's future manager.

"I think we will build some kind of standard here," he said, adding some of the technology going into the shop is new.

VW officials said workers hit a milestone in the factory's construction with the start of equipment installation.

Among the environmental elements of the paint shop is that it will achieve a 60 percent energy savings over typical facilities due to technology, VW and Eisenmann officials said.

In addition, the car-painting process will cut out a step because a primer won't be used, resulting in cuts in cost and emissions, they said.

"It's a very efficient process," said Mr. Voellinger, whose company is providing much of the equipment.

Mr. Grensemann said the shop is divided into several levels in height to accommodate the whole painting process. If engineers laid it out all on one level, the building would be three times as large, he said.

Mr. Voellinger said the shop will be highly automated with 56 robots when its finished.

Staff Photo by Patrick Smith<br> William Spuhler, left, and Greg Fowler of Southern Fabrication Contractors raise a beam inside the Volkswagen plant's paint shop on Monday. Raising the beam signified the beginning of the installation of equipment for the manufacturing facility, which is planned to open in 2011.

Southern Fabrication Contractors of Chattanooga is supplying steel to support the equipment inside the paint shop, he said.

Mike Potter of Southern Fabrication said it is providing 1,750 tons that's fabricated in the city and purchased here from Siskin Steel & Supply Co.

"It's nice to get these jobs and it's close to home," he said.

During the installation of the equipment, between 300 and 400 workers will be inside at the peak time, expected to be early next year, officials said.

Mr. Grensemann said equipment installation is on schedule. Work on the paint shop will take place most of next year, he said.

The $1 billion plant is slated to start producing cars in early 2011.