Chrysler and Fiat’s manufacturing systems will merge early 2014 when the carmakers open a 935,000-square-foot paint shop opens at Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in suburban Detroit. According to Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri, the paint shop will be almost identical to those that Fiat uses around the world.
The common paint system at Chrysler and Fiat sites will trim manufacturing complexity as well as add flexibility for quick model changes. The paint shop is part of $1.1 billion that Chrysler is investing in its Detroit plants. The paint shop is expect to handle 998 vehicles daily on two shifts using 112 Fanuc robots.
The painting process starts by applying the e-coat, a substance that allows primer and paint to stick to metal. It will be followed by a rust preventative and then by the powder-coat primer. Lastly, two coats of paint -- the base coat containing the color, and the clear coat will be applied.
Chrysler is investing about $850 million on the paint shop, located in a new building on the grounds of the Sterling Heights site. The new paint shop is linked by two enclosed overhead conveyors to the main production line. Chrysler expects the paint shop to starts its operations in the first quarter of 2014.
The new shop will replace a shop that Volkswagen of America built in 1980. According to John Powell, Chrysler's senior manager for paint facilities, planning and launch, the new paint shop is designed to get rid of contamination, require minimum maintenance and provide maximum production flexibility. To eliminate contamination, 95 percent of the air is recycled at the shop. [source: Chrysler]