General Motors and BASF Coatings: Working together to make life easier for collision repair professionals
02/16/06, Detroit/Muenster. What does a car owner do when his brand new model—off the assembly line for only days—gets hit in traffic? Are the repair parts available? Are the correct service procedures available so that a collision facility can repair it properly? And what about paint? Is the color information out in the marketplace so that the matching can be precise?
General Motors’ Service and Parts Operation is hard at work to make the answer to all of the above “yes.”
GM works in partnership with its approved paint suppliers to help establish repair procedures and currently BASF’s Glasurit line is installed at the GM Service and Parts Operations Technical Center in Warren, MI. According to GM’s Brian Dotterer, Center of Expertise Service Engineer, “We enjoy the relationship. It gives us valuable insight into the paint industry and it’s a great opportunity to share information.”
One example of this sharing of knowledge is the matter of VOCs. BASF can tell GM precisely what the government’s VOC requirements and regulations are throughout North America, as well as the rest of the world. Working together also gives GM a good opportunity to learn about the new wave of UV products, like BASF’s UV primers.
The partnership is a great help when dealing with new materials, like carbon-fiber panels, too. It essentially is threadlike strands of pure carbon that are extremely strong in tension. Carbon fiber can be bound in a matrix of plastic resin — some of which are not UV stable without some type of finish. So if unpainted carbon fiber components were considered on future models they would require a very robust clear to prevent them from degrading. GM will spray out numerous different panels for testing to determine what coating works best. A high-end Glasurit clearcoat proved to be the most capable in this case. So should it be decided that unpainted carbon fiber be used in a future model, GM has a product that will work.
Simultaneous Service and Parts Release
The Service and Parts Engineering Team is co-located with GM’s team of new-vehicle design engineers. That makes the interaction hugely convenient. Once a project gets approved and design engineers are assigned, Service and Parts assigns service specialists to work with the engineers. There’s someone assigned to structure, to closures, exteriors, lighting and so on. They all come on board at different stages and begin to interface with the design engineers. In this way they can influence change where it appears that serviceability could be negatively impacted.
Jim Doherty, Manager, Body Structure/Exterior Closures, GM Service and Parts Operation, NA, says, “Sometimes you come up with issues like replacing a headlamp bulb that requires removing facias and fenders to get at the bulb. So you could have a $3 bulb and an $80 labor charge. These are the types of issues the Service and Parts Group works to avoid.”
Because service and part requirements are developed right along with design, the simultaneous release of service parts is possible. When a design engineer is ready to release parts for production, Service and Parts is ready to release its service parts into the database. If there’s a unique service part that differs from production parts, that special part is also released. Also knowing what service parts are scheduled for release early in the vehicle development process assists the service team in identifying, developing and validating all service procedures prior to launch.
Once the vehicle is launched all the repair parts and procedures are launched as well. This simultaneous service and parts release has been achieved just in the last five years. In the past, service people might not be involved until the parts and vehicle designs were released for production. When the vehicle was launched not all parts were available. That’s all changed; now every effort is made to assure that all service information and parts are available when vehicles arrive at the dealers.
Making a difference
Another way BASF supports GM’s effort is through the use of BASF’s computerized mixing system and it’s doing far more than providing precise mixing. Says GM’s Brian Dotterer, “It’s a computerized scale. If you over-pour the paint the system will tell you what to add in order to compensate for the error. It can track your inventory and do job costing. We use it to track our VOCs, too.” This BASF computerized system is the same technology used in body shops across the country.
“Refinish is gaining more credibility all the time,” says Joe Skurka, Manager of OEM and Industry Relations for BASF’s Automotive Refinish business in North America. “Over the years, refinish products have become more robust. oday, there’s much more of a convergence between OE and refinish paints, thanks to parallel development. And it keeps evolving.”
Both GM and BASF are reaping benefits from their partnership. GM is getting the inside track on the latest in refinish technology, like BASF’s UV primers and Glasurit 90 Line and BASF is gaining new and deeper insight into GM’s needs. Joe Skurka sums it up this way, “We’re connected with what’s coming down the road. When a new model is launched, we know all about it and know how to repair it. That’s good for GM, for BASF and, most of all, it’s good for our collision repair customers. The bottom line is making our customers more successful.
BASF : A major international player in coatings
BASF Coatings AG belongs to the global Coatings Division of the BASF Group. In 2004 the Coatings Division achieved world sales of 2.0 billion euros. The Coatings Division develops, produces and markets a high-quality range of innovative automotive OEM coatings, automotive refinishes and industrial coatings as well as decorative paints, and also the processes needed to apply them. In this business, eco-efficient water-based, powder and high-solids coatings as well as radiation-curable systems play a special part. In Brazil, the company has been successful in the decorative paints market for years and holds the leading position. BASF has a major, global presence in the Coatings sector, with significant market positions in Europe, North America, South America and the Asia/Pacific region, for example with affiliates in Australia, China, India, Japan, and the Philippines. The internet address of BASF Coatings is www.basf-coatings.com.
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- BASF Coatings AG
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