By Liz White, UT staffNovo Mesto, Slovenia-Partnering for BASF's automotive coatings business means getting right into its customers' car-making plants and taking charge of various aspects of the coating process. And another radical aspect of BASF's involvement, highlighted by Jacques Delmoitiez, senior vice president at BASF AG, who heads BASF's strategy of helping customers be more successful, is that "BASF is not paid for the amount of paint used [for the 180 000 cars made annually in Slovenia] but for each perfectly painted car body." Delomoitiez outlined this approach, called 'value chain integration' at a 14 April meeting at Renault's plant in Novo Mesto, Slovenia-which makes the Clio model for most European countries. Renault operates a Lead Supplier System, and at the Slovenian plant, called Revoz, BASF, as lead supplier in coatings, is involved in the day-to-day management of the paint shop. It works, with 28 BASF staff, on a three-shift system, to "optimise the painting process," said Dr Thierry Herning, key account manager for BASF Coatings for Renault. Simon Franko, team leader of the BASF unit at Revoz, explained that the BASF group purchases around 70 chemical products for the paint shop and is responsible for storage of all chemical products. The BASF unit deals with chemicals logistics for the paint shop, and the preparation of both its own and other tier 1 suppliers' materials. It handles transfer of chemicals from storage to production line, and preparation of materials for use, including the pre-treatment and electrodeposition coat, the topcoats-primer/surfacer, base coat (colour layer), clear coat, and any repairs. Paint materials form only 20 percent of the cost of the car painting process, Franko pointed out, with the rest of the cost from the process, waste, plant and equipment, energy, human resources and so on. BASF has reduced material consumption at Revoz from a unit value of 15.2 per car body to 12.0, by optimised material production, using more efficient application, homogenised film production and larger colour blocks in runs, Franko pointed out. Getting it right first time is important, and BASF has improved the rework rate by stable product quality, good defect analysis, dust and fibre reduction, new cleaning methods for the circulation system, and improved filtration, according to Franko. While it is hard from the outside to see how such a partnership operates, Delmoitiez pointed out that, "rules must be established first, targets on cost reduction," and also "a formula is established for sharing costs." It is a "win-win situation" for both parties, according to Marcel Brouiller, president of Renault Revoz, since Renault has fewer cars needing repair and BASF cuts unit costs and saves product. The Revoz plant uses polyurethanes in coatings, "for example in the primer, where a very important role is in stone chip resistance," Herning said. PU-based clear coats are also used at Revoz, he said, adding that, "formulating is our know-how." BASF uses various resins in its coatings, epoxies, polyesters and acrylics, but Herning pointed out that "PUs are important in cost, not so much in volume:" they can form a large part of the cost of the paint, he said."