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ABB paint robots use 35 percent less paint

ABB Automation Technologies : 01 July, 2006  (Company News)
Malaysia-based automaker, Proton, installed 22 ABB paint robots equipped with ABB's Cartridge Bell System and recorded a 35 percent reduction in paint consumption at its new, state-of-the-art automotive plant near Kuala Lumpur.
The cartridge bell automotive painting system has been in operation since 2002 when Proton inaugurated its brand new manufacturing facility in Tanjung Malim, some 80 kilometers north of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. The plant has a production capacity of one million vehicles a year.

Looking back over the first three years of the installation and comparing it with alternative systems in the company's other production plant, the head of Proton's painting department recalls a big impact on costs:

'We've recorded a paint reduction of about 35 percent with the Cartridge Bell System,' says Muzafa Saboo. 'The paint maker came to me asking why suddenly our paint orders had been reduced so much. It was then I realized that they came from the ABB paint system. The paint savings have actually had a big impact on the cost per car.'

Joint ABB-Toyota development
The Cartridge Bell System was jointly developed by ABB and Toyota, and is now specified in the global standards of the world's largest automotive manufacturer.

Conventional paint systems require long tubes that run from the paint tanks to the pump and valve units on the robot arm all of which have to be cleaned with solvent between each paint change.

The ABB solution has revolutionized paint technology by moving the paint tank to the robot arm in the form of a refillable cartridge. When it is time for a color change, the only component that requires cleaning is the atomizer bell that sprays the paint.

'We discovered that the cartridge system saved a lot in terms of solvent because of the individual cartridges used for each color,' says Saboo.

Saves more than paint and solvent
In addition to the substantial savings in paint and solvent, the system significantly reduces volatile organic compounds emissions from the solvent (Toyota recorded a 45 percent reduction), improves productivity by enabling smaller production runs with a greater number of colors, and opens up the possibility of paint-to-order production.

About 350 ABB paint systems of this type are in operation worldwide. The latest car manufacturer to switch from conventional paint systems to ABB is Audi, which recently ordered 34 paint robots for its A3, A4 and A6 lines in Germany.
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