Load-dependent volume flow for drying vehicle finishes
Cost benefits for automakers
The Volkswagen plant in Emden is a busy place. Located in the East Frisian region of Germany’s northwest coast, the facility and its over 8,000 employees will pass two major milestones this year, each of which would have produced considerable activity on its own: the new Passat B8 is on its way, and the plant will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014. The atmosphere in the plant’s gigantic paint shop, however, is one of professional calm. The 1,200 cars that enter here each day leave as high-gloss versions of themselves in every conceivable colour.
Detert Ackermann, who helps maintain the finishing lines, proudly presents “his” finishing line. The clear highlights of the line are the curing ovens, which bake the finishing layer previously applied by painting robots. Vehicle bodies first pass through two radiant heating zones before entering the next three zones, where recirculating air produces a high-gloss finish that will last for many years.
“The painting process generates over forty percent of the energy costs at an automotive plant,” says Ackermann. “So this was where we focused our work with Crone Wärmetechnik, an equipment builder from Rhauderfehn, Germany, and with CVET of Clausthal, Germany. The collaboration produced huge savings in the curing and drying process!” From a technical perspective, the process has two outcomes: it provides the ovens with thermal energy, while eliminating the harmful substances in the oven waste gas that pose a hazard to human health and to the environment. The entire process must keep costs at a minimum without sacrificing the quality of the finish.