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BASF opens modular lab for automotive OEM coatings at its Münster site

BASF’s Coatings division has opened a new laboratory for automotive OEM coatings at its site in Münster, Germany.

The modular “Lean Lab” concept aims to ensure optimised, digitalised and transparent processes and efficient use of resources in the laboratory area throughout Europe.

Discrete working processes of the lab employees and the use of standardised and automated processes allow BASF to meet future market requirements quickly and flexibly.

In line with this, the workforce in Münster is supported by a lab dosing machine that was specially developed for BASF and is the only one of its kind in the coatings industry.

“BASF cooperates very closely with all major automotive manufacturers worldwide to develop advanced coatings technologies. Through the digitisation of processes, optimised use of resources, and automation, we can respond even more efficiently and address our customers’ needs,” says Dirk Bremm, president of BASF’s Coatings division.

Since 2014, BASF has invested € 24 million to completely overhaul an existing laboratory building for this purpose, which included adding an extra story.

The building now features four bright and airy laboratory levels with spacious offices and state-of-the-art lab workplaces that are all digitally linked.

Discrete work processes are intelligently designed to foster customer-specific product developments, manufacture paint samples and perform application tests.

An optimised logistics concept also ensures that all materials for daily work – and for this work only – are available, which positively impacts resource efficiency.

A lab dosing machine that is unique in the coatings industry and was specifically built for the lab in Münster facilitates work and assures quality.

BASF collaborated with machine manufacturer FRICKE Dosing + Filling Systems from Minden, Germany, to develop the machine. At 12 meters long and weighing 8 tons, it can manufacture standard formulas from over 300 liquid raw materials.

All job orders and the associated experiments within the lab are digitally stored and documented, which promotes transparency, reproducibility and knowledge transfer among the individual sites.

“The Lean Lab in Münster is our pilot project. Since late 2017, we have been gathering experience that we can use for introducing the Lean Lab at other sites in Europe: in Würzburg, Germany; Guadalajara, Spain; and Clermont, France,” said Wolfgang Reckordt, Product Development Europe Automotive OEM Coatings at BASF Coatings division.

“Lean Lab is our new European standard and will open up many possibilities for us to intensify product development and respond flexibly to new challenges,” he added.