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Paint shops going green.

Paint shops are one of the main focus areas as the industry strives to reduce emissions and environmental impact. Italian automotive paintshop specialist, Geico, is setting the trend by developing a "self-sufficient" paint-shop as part of its efforts towards "going green".

According to Geico paint-shops consume around 70% of electrical energy and 80% of heat energy necessary for vehicle production. Painting a vehicle body produces about 235 kg of C[O.sub.2], but this estimate only takes into account the measurable electric, heating and refrigeration consumption. Also, the energy consumption of a paint-shop of 300.000 job/year is about 250 GWh. This is the same amount needed to power a city of 50,000 inhabitants.

Geico's self-sufficient paint-shop aims to cut down the energy used in regular paint shops using the "kaizen approach," a traditional Japanese approach to business that has been modified all over the world to suite different business environments. Translated, "kaizen" means "improvement/become good through change."

The paint-shop project is being undertaken by Geico's Pardis division which is dedicated to finding more eco-friendly and energy-smart solutions. The company has supplied top-notch car manufacturers around the world with complete automated paintplants for nearly half a century. The energy-saving paint-shop project comes at a time when Europe is moving towards an energy saving policy by launching its 20-20-20 Directive which aims at a 20% reduction of energy consumption and C[O.sub.2] emissions and a 20% increase in production of energy from renewable sources.

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Geico comes from the original Italian branch of CarrierDrysys which was established in 1905. Geico comes from the original Italian branch of carrier-Drysys which was established in 1905 and quickly became the largest multinational company specializing in original coating plants for the vehicle industry. In 1976, Giuseppe Neri, an expert in system engineering for the vehicle coating process and managing director of Drysys Equipment Italiana of Carrier-Drysys Group, initiated a management buy-out operation and established a new company called Geico S.p.A. Increasing globalization pushed Geico to join the Comau Group in 1997. In late 2005, Arabnia-Neri family made a reacquisition of Geico remaining though in good relationship with Comau. Over the next few years, the challenge for Geico was to position itself as a supplier of complete paint plants.

In a benchmark move in 2006, Geico secured the exclusive use of Haden and Drysys' intellectual properties, patents and trademarks. Two years later, in 2008, it became the world's sole owner of the intellectual property. Geico's verticalization of technology strategy was accompanied by a switch from a Mediterranean perspective to a global one, with the foundation of allGeicoproject, a global network of direct branches and strategic partnerships, which guarantees its geographical presence and increases projects capabilities.

In just three years, allGeicoproject has grown to include thirteen corporate members employing more than 1,200 employees, out of whom 500 are highly qualified engineers. It has also doubled its annual revenues to more than 350 million Euro. "Geico is a strong, innovation-oriented business constantly integrating new technologies and methods. This is why Geico paint plants are extremely reliable, flexible, and attuned to the customer's budget and needs," says the company. "Having been in this business for nearly fifty years, Geico has a profound knowledge of total coating processes and all the associated complexities. The experience gathered enables Geico to manage projects of any size and complexity effectively, quickly and with great responsibility. Geico completes its solution with training and up-grading programs for the staff."

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GEICO prides itself on developing solutions suitable for every kind of process, body and production capacity with the best available technologies to ensure protection against corrosion. GEICO proprietary systems ensure an innovative approach in terms of final quality achievement, clean environmental policy and low consumptions.

Automotive Industries (AI) spoke to Dr. All Reza Arabnia, president and CEO of Geico, and asked him about the new developments in the design and installation of new turnkey plants.

Arabnia: The main challenge has become the lead time. The actual industry's dynamics make it difficult for vehicle producers to have clear strategies for their new investments. Once a decision is made though, they want it almost immediately! This has challenged us to redefine our supply chain processes as well as redesign parts of the plant.

AI: What are the advantages of modernizing existing paint plants such as Fiat's Mirafiori and tell us about the renovation at this plant.

Arabnia: The plant needed to be modified in order to become more environmentally friendly and comply with the new European regulations. It was modified for water-based application in order to drastically reduce hazardous emissions.

AI: Do you think Fiat's renovation at Mirafiori and the upgrading of its existing facilities is a good business strategy--taking into account the current economic situation where companies are looking to cut costs?

Arabnia: I believe that investments which are relatively easy to pay off will not have a negative impact on cost control, and will actually add value to the company in terms of its upgraded technology and improved environmental impact. Fiat has become proudly "obsessed" with quality and that has created another perspective in evaluating their investments which is quite a refreshing and modern approach in the industry. I am sure this shall be a great edge for them in the near future.

AI: Tell us about some of the contracts you have been awarded such as the JML Miracle award for the Ford contract and the Genix and VW India contract.

Arabnia: JML Miracle is a Chinese partner of the allGeicoproject and was awarded a new contract from Ford Motor Company to provide different types of conveyor lines for the assembly shop at its truck plant in Wayne, Michigan. The plant will produce 400,000 bodies/year, that is 78 jph.

Genix is Geico's representative in Korea for paint-shop projects. It has recently completed the new Volkswagen plant in Pune, India. This is a truly great success story of another member of the allGeicoproject with a first class customer such as VW India. These awards, as well as the success of our partner, Falcare in Brazil are the result of our allGeicoproject. As an international team, allGeicoproject has been able to secure so many projects that its annual turnover has more than doubled in just three years. We believe that this has been possible thanks to our commitment and dedication to understand effectively our customers' needs worldwide.

AI: What kind of growth is Asia witnessing in original coating plants for the automotive industry?

Arabnia: Simply amazing! What has happened in India and China for the last three years is phenomenal. One particular characteristic of the Asian vehicle producers is that they are mostly licensees of European, American, or Japanese car producers, However, they remain independent in their investment decisions, allowing them to be autonomous. They aren't dependent on decisions from headquarters during difficult economic times. At Geico we believe very much in these markets' actual and future performances.
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Title Annotation:innovation; All Reza Arabnia from Geico S.p.A
Author:Knox, Jon
Publication:Automotive Industries
Article Type:Company overview
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Sep 22, 2009
Words:1165
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