The small, Lower Bavarian town of Viechtach is enriched by a large, state-of-the-art and highly innovative site expansion of its largest employer, REHAU. The company, which operates internationally, has invested almost 60 million euro in its Automotive division. This was in the form of a new, environmentally friendly painting plant together with additional logistics buildings with assembly units on a total area of over 16,000 square metres. Plant 11, which was constructed in 1986 in the industrial zone of Oberschlatzendorf, has therefore just doubled its output capacity and should in the future serve the production sites of prestigious automotive customers in almost the whole of Europe with painted external components – including BMW, Porsche, VW, Ford, Audi, Skoda, the French PSA group and Honda.
"With the investment, we are making a vital contribution to maintaining and extending our position as a well-known automotive supplier with first-class painting competence," Markus Grundmann, Board Chairman of Automotive, confirmed two years ago at the ground-breaking ceremony. This promise has now been realised. With a symbolic press of a button, REHAU Vice President Dr Veit Wagner, Deputy CEO Dr Stefan Girschik and Plant Manager Stefan Tetek started the new production line to the acclaim of Minister Brunner, the political office holder present, and numerous representatives of large automotive customers.
The polymer specialist put much of its own know-how into the concept and design of the painting plant, to raise overall performance to a new level. "In terms of jobs, performance, energy use, sustainability and intelligence – above all meaning the Industry 4.0 milestones in digitisation – we are right at the front," confirms Helmut Ansorge, Automotive board member and one of the technical initiators of the plant.
The plant, which works anhydrously in component cleaning, uses the CO2 already present – which has a sustainable impact on the environment (please also read our accompanying press release, "Major gain in the environmental balance"). The other results that benefit the environment are also significant: major improvements in the energy balance, less colour loss in the case of colour changes, lower waste volumes, optimal gas use in the flame treatment of the parts to improve paint adhesion there, clear focus on greater digitisation of the work processes, and finally use of big data to continuously optimise the painting process. "Ultimately, we can achieve added value from all these measures and thanks to the international plant network with our Czech colleagues," Ansorge says, "which helps us to secure the jobs in Viechtach."
With the new painting plant, an area of two million square metres can be painted every year, which is equivalent to around 280 football pitches or 8500 bumpers per day. This is purely theoretical, as production and assembly in Viechtach have long comprised considerably more rear spoilers than bumpers, i.e. these are provided for inclusion in the production line of the car manufacturer.
Here, Ansorge is able to draw on an "extremely experienced team," as he confirms. He appreciates the down-to-earth nature and trusting cooperation of his troops, which consist of young engineers and of old hands who were involved with planning the first painting plant back in 1986. "Getting the doubled capacity up and running is a real coup," he extols. By name, he thanked his managers from process engineering, Jörg Braun and Olaf Eckardt, and their teams: "With these experienced managers in my process engineering and their employees, such technically demanding projects can be handled successfully on time and on budget, in close cooperation with the supplier." The company is thus securing and creating important jobs in the region. Around 30 to 35 new jobs should be added in the next two years.