AM General Corporation converted from a low-solid/high-volatile organic compound (VOC) coating to a high-solid/low-VOC coating for their civilian Hummer paint process. This switch was made because AM General is committed to reducing VOC and hazardous air pollutant (HAPs) emissions to the atmosphere. The switch was not accomplished easily. High-solid/low-VOC coating techniques are not the same as low-solid/high-VOC coating techniques. This difference created finishing problems that resulted in much rework in order to achieve the required Class A finish. AM General is committed to the high-solid/low-VOC coating and contacted the Indiana Pollution Prevention and Safe Materials Institute (IPPI) in May 1996 to request assistance in applying the high-solid/low-VOC coating. This request resulted from AM General's participation in IPPI's Pollution Prevention session at Purdue's Industrial Waste Conference in May 1996.
AM General Corporation is located in Mishawaka, Indiana, and employs approximately 970 people. The company manufactures Hummers, arguably the world's premier, off-road, four-wheel drive vehicle for civilian and military use. The name Hummer is derived from the US Army's acronym for the vehicle, HMMWV, which stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. The paint process for the civilian Hummer must produce a world-class, automotive finish quality and this was the process for which the company requested assistance.
AM General manufactures and assembles the Hummers at the Mishawaka location. The civilian Hummer is manufactured on the same assembly line as the military version. The mechanics are the same, but due to safety requirements, the civilian version requires certain modifications. The fully assembled, civilian version is painted in a separate process because it requires a Class A automotive finish. The paint used for the civilian model is the high-solid/low-VOC coating and is the subject of this report.
The conversion from a low-solid/high-VOC coating to a high-solid/low-VOC coating greatly reduced VOC and HAP emissions to the atmosphere. AM General is committed to maintaining these reduced emissions and is interested in reducing them further. Proper application of the high-solid/low-VOC coating will achieve both objectives.
Mastering the difference in the application technique of the high-solid/low-VOC coating (verses the low-solid/high-VOC coating) is the challenge. The high-solid/low-VOC coating is not as forgiving as a low-solid/high-VOC coating. Operators traditionally tend to apply more paint than is required. This over-application not only increases cost and rework, but also increases VOC and HAP emissions.
IPPI contacted the Iowa Waste Reduction Center's Spray Technique Analysis and Research Training Program (STAR) at the University of Northern Iowa and requested their collaboration in the analysis of the paint application technique. STAR personnel visited AM General and proposed a spray paint operator training program. This proposal was accepted by AM General and is scheduled for early October 1996.
The program will consist of a review of the paint application techniques currently practiced by the operators and will include training for increasing efficiency through improved paint application techniques. This will be accomplished through videotaping current practices, reviewing these videotapes with operators, and an application of high-solid/low-VOC coatings education program.
POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND COST BENEFITS
It is estimated that the training will increase efficiency by 10%. Increased efficiency is estimated to accomplish the following:
The high-solid/low-VOC coating usage will be reduced by an estimated 10%. Current usage is 9000 gallons per year. A 10% efficiency increase will result in a yearly savings of 900 gallons at a cost of $85.00 per gallon. The training will not reduce waste management or energy costs. Therefore:
Total estimated savings $76,500
AM General's conversion to a high-solid/low-VOC coating was not easy, nor was it without cost. The high-solid/low-VOC coating is more expensive than the low-solid/high-VOC coating. Improving paint application techniques is estimated to increase efficiency by 10%. This is estimated to result in a savings of 900 gallons of paint per year, which will achieve $76,500 in savings. AM General is committed to using the high-solid/low-VOC coating to reduce VOC emissions and achieve pollution prevention in their civilian, automotive paint finish line. 1 (c) Purdue University Research Foundation, 1996