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Ford and BASF Coatings on the "Way Forward" - Ford's Saarlouis site is a model for success

Published on 2007-03-19. Author : SpecialChem

Münster/Saarlouis/Detroit -- Over the past few years, Ford has bestowed a number of accolades on BASF Coatings, including three Gold World Excellence Awards, with BASF Coatings the only paint supplier to be so honored. In addition, BASF Coatings was selected to be part of Ford's envied "Aligned Business Framework", the circle of the company's preferred suppliers throughout the world. As part of Ford's "Way Forward" program, the two companies have teamed up and are pulling out all the stops. A number of successes can be attributed to BASF systems. The partnership at the Ford site in Saarlouis, the home of the Focus and C-Max models, is one example of this.

Since 2000 BASF Coatings has been the single source supplier at the Saarlouis site in southwestern Germany. The nine-member BASF team on-site covers responsibilities such as material management, disposition, and the logistics for the entire supply process. Other responsibilities, such as quality management, are carried out along with the Ford staff. During the application process itself, the service team takes care of and supports the production process and along with Ford, optimizes quality and costs. At the Saarlouis plant, plastic add-on parts are painted separately, and BASF Coatings' ColorCARE system ensures perfect color-matching during assembly. The cost per unit (CPU) system is used for invoicing, which means that BASF Coatings is paid for each body that leaves the paintline with a perfect finish. In this case, "systematic" success means much more than simply checking off the tasks that have been agreed to in writing. The two team leaders, Joachim Pink, BASF Ford Coatings Process Service Saarlouis, Automotive OEM Coatings Solutions, and Roland Goepfert, responsible for coatings and plastics production at Ford Saarlouis, see to it that BASF systems are put to optimal use. "We're not just a paint supplier; we're completely integrated into operations at Ford. The ‘open-door' principle inspires a great deal of creativity on both sides. To put it in a nutshell, we're shaping the future together," says Pink. Goepfert adds, "During our daily work together, our partnership triggers a lot of ideas that we can develop together and implement consistently."

For both of them, Electric Orange is a prime example. The bright orange finish on the Ford Focus ST turns heads on the roads, and orders for the model have exceeded all expectations. However, before it could be launched, the team had to do research, experiment, and keep reinventing their creativity. "We and our team brought this color to life. As with many projects, the way we see it, there aren't any problems, just challenges and brain teasers. The words, ‘That won't work' just aren't part of our vocabulary," says Goepfert. The paint system calls for cathodic electrodisposition and primer, followed by four layers of paint: solid-color basecoat, a clearcoat, on top of that a special-effect layer, and then another layer of clearcoat - setting it clearly apart from the standard paint system. But this also calls for an intermediary step in the application process, in turn requiring additional space, which was not available in this case. Meeting this challenge under the given technical conditions with minimal investments posed a mental challenge that the BASF Coatings group and the Ford Saarlouis engineering crew could only master in close cooperation, in other words: genuine teamwork. The color's popularity attests to its success.

One thing is clear for Joachim Pink and Roland Goepfert: "Our partnership is based on trust and requires a great deal of creativity as we strive for consistent development and pursue the goal of shaping our future together."

Jeff Leone, BASF's Global Account Director for Ford, is continuing to pull out all the stops for Ford and cheers on his team every day. "We received the World Excellence Awards for top performance in the areas of cost, quality, and delivery. We're sticking with our partners and friends at Ford. We are committed to being the premier provider of solutions for the automotive industry, not only by delivering superior products, but also by providing innovative technological solutions and application processes." Ford and BASF Coatings are partners that will continue to give all they've got together.

Source: BASF

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