18th birthday of the paint shop at Volkswagen Poznań

15 May 2019

The paint shop constructed in 2001 celebrates its anniversary. After 18 years of operation and multi-million investments it is today one of the most modern facilities of this kind in Europe. Each day the 750 bodyworks of VW Caddy and VW Transporter T6 leave the paint shop lines.

Built in 2001 with a cost of 104 million Euro, the paint shop was not only the biggest construction yard of those times, but also one of the largest foreign investments in Poland in that period. Its construction has made it possible to start a new chapter in the history of the company. From the establishment producing cars in the SKD system, the Company has transformed itself into an independent car factory. 

18 years ago the production capacities permitted to paint as much as 525 bodyworks of Transporter T4 and Skoda Fabia. Today, in the multi-storey hall with the surface of almost 75.000 m² 812 workers and 65 painting robots operate in a three-shift system. Within one day up to 750 finished bodywork in over 138 paint colours, including 19 serial and 119 special ones, can leave the paint shop. The paints are applied on 6 main variants of VW Caddy and VW Transporter T6 bodyworks in 107 different combinations. In 2018 the production lines of the factory in Poznań were left by 191 thousand cars.

Most paint processes are done with specialized equipment and robots. The top of the paint shop chimney is equipped with a device for continuous measurement and control of volatile organic compounds. The measurements and analyses of results are held every 3 seconds. With this undertaking Volkswagen Poznań has the complete supervision over the size of the greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, an example or pro-environmental solution allowing for a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, are the heat wheels that enable heat recovery from the KTL dryers and its re-use within the paint shop. This solution translates to emission reduction of 2 thousand tons of CO₂ per year.

Supplementary Information

Painting process - Step by Step

The bodywork is moved from the welding shop directly to the paint shop by an overground sleeve connecting both buildings. Here the complicated process begins, in which the bodywork gains is colour selected by the customer. In addition special protective measures are applied to the bodywork that protect it against corrosion, dust, water, moisture and mechanical damage.

The first step in the paint shop is the pre-treatment, which is to prepare the bodywork for painting. At this stage the bodywork is thoroughly cleaned of welding residues, degreased and applied with a layer of phosphates. Then the bodywork goes to the cataphoretic line and is submerged in massive trays where the first protective layer of paint is applied to protect the bodywork against corrosion.

The next technological process is rough and accurate sealing of all welds and joints. In the next step robots apply a protective layer on the bottom of the chassis, protecting the chassis against the effects of atmospheric influences and also improving the acoustics of the body. Most painting lines is fully automated, so you get the final product with excellent quality. Some operations may however be carried out exclusively manually by the qualified personnel;

So prepared bodywork is then applied with another layer of paint, i.e. the sealer, so-called inter-layer, topcoat (base) and finally the colourless paint that provides a shine to the bodywork and constitutes an additional protective layer. Each successive layer of paint is then carefully controlled.

The technology of applying the sealer is very interesting: first, the EMU machine with real ostrich feathers with anti-static properties cleans the body exterior, then employees apply the paint manually on surfaces that can be difficult to access inside the vehicle, and then 6 robots apply the paint using the electrostatic method on the surfaces of the bodywork. Before the application of the base coat, the bodywork is subjected to control, possible adjustments and washing.

The last two stages of painting are fully automatic, without the manual application, even in difficult to reach areas. Certain types of colour paint require double application of the topcoat. This is particularly important in the case of metallic paints, where aluminium particles must be set in one direction. After the application of the topcoat, the bodywork is slightly dried and after the application of the clear coat - dried thoroughly.

Then the bodywork is subjected to a thorough inspection followed by the final acceptance. Following the final acceptance the bodywork is applied with brand emblems and protection strips.

The last step in the painting process is the maintenance of enclosed spaces, when special nozzles inject pressurized wax protecting the vehicle against corrosion. Finally the painted, glossy and secured bodywork is transported by internal transport lines to the assembly floor.

At the exit from the paint shop, in so called point M100, the bodywork identification number is scanned and submitted electronically to the department of logistics. The information contained in this number are the basis for the contract of proper components and organization of their delivery to the assembly lines in the "just-in-time” system.