On the African continent, the centre of vehicle manufacturing and one of the largest hubs for the automotive industry is South Africa. Here, car production is reliant on a few renowned global OEMs who invest in the production of top quality and high-performance vehicles.
The Surface Treatment global business unit of BASF’s Coatings division, operating under the Chemetall brand, supports OEMs in South Africa with innovative pretreatment technologies. With a comprehensive service network of dedicated and skilled technical sales team, Chemetall South Africa is close to its customers, supported by a modern state-of-the-art production and laboratory facilities.
To achieve excellent quality in the surface treatment of vehicles, the pretreatment of metal surfaces prior to the coating plays a crucial role. As a premium supplier, Chemetall is a solution-oriented partner for customers with the goal of enhancing processes sustainably with the highest quality and safety standards. Chemetall provides tailor-made pretreatments for the automotive industry, fulfilling the requirements and needs of car manufacturers globally – including South Africa.
Thought out solutions and reliable quality
At a large OEM production site in Rosslyn, near Pretoria, Chemetall has customised the pretreatment process to the individual on-site requirements of the customer. Stella Bauerochse, Sales Director at Chemetall South Africa and a surface treatment expert in the automotive industry, explains: “The modular pretreatment process of choice for the renowned car manufacture’s production is GardoFlex. At this site, the technology combines the traditional benefits of conventional zinc phosphating with optimised process components to meet requirements in the global automotive industry.”
Tshepang Mohale, Sales Representative at Chemetall adds: “With GardoFlex, our metal pretreatment is very stable. Thanks to this process, we have effectively treated high volumes of aluminium on car bodies. To further enhance the process, we are investigating a low-temperature application which allows significant reduction of energy consumption, while improving the carbon footprint.”
GardoFlex technology delivers reduction in process costs, by lowering operating temperatures down to 35°C in the zinc phosphating bath. Experiences in the global automotive industry have shown that, depending on the throughput, additional energy savings can be realised. As OEM manufacturers in South Africa strive for energy-savings and sustainable solutions, the partnership with Chemetall assures that all process elements are optimally aligned. Additionally, the technology provides distinctly longer bath life, meaning lower water consumption, lower effluent volumes and less maintenance, leading to resources savings. The reduced coating weight and finer crystal formation on the metal surface require less replenishment efforts and lower chemical consumption.
With these advantages, GardoFlex helps OEMs achieve sustainability levels that outperform the standard. Furthermore, Chemetall offers an effective demulsifying process for degreasing baths which, in turn, brings further benefits in terms of bath shelf life and maintenance costs, adding to the positive effect of the overall process.
A determining factor for the selection and implementation of GardoFlex at the line in Rosslyn rests in the fact that the technology can be used in existing plants and usually does not require any alterations. There are no limitations on aluminium throughput, which is a requirement from OEMs. An increased aluminium content on car bodies or automotive components is in high demand today and one of the major global trends within the OEM industry.
“GardoFlex provides a complete, homogenous and smooth phosphate coating of all metal surfaces including multi metal substrates, which supports the subsequent paint appearance of the primer-less paint process,” explains Stella Bauerochse. “Further benefits of GardoFlex are the combinations with its silicate- and boron-free demulsifying degreaser stage and activation which provides an extended bath shelf time of several months.”
From Rosslyn in the north of the country to Port Elizabeth at the south coast: the South African automotive industry is represented by several OEMs. In June 2019, Chemetall initialised the pretreatment process transition of another important line to GardoFlex. “By dropping the degreaser and phosphate bath temperatures by 15°C each, our customer was able to gain considerable savings per annum in energy costs,” says Stella Bauerochse. Additionally, very positive feedback was provided by the waste water treatment site. “Since the implementation of the GardoFlex process, challenges related to boron content in the process have been eliminated,” Stella Bauerochse concludes. The customer also experienced a significant reduction of sludge in the process. Due to such positive results from the GardoFlex implementation, the OEM decided to convert the chassis production line to the same technology.
For every process step in zinc phosphating, Chemetall offers integrated technologies that are complimentary – from cleaning/degreasing, to activation and phosphating, and through the final rinsing step. These modules are specifically combined to suit each individual production line and condition. This helps to increase the process efficiency and raise production throughput and yield. Renowned car manufacturers rely on the GardoFlex technology by Chemetall and benefit from the high quality and optimised process which meet the most exacting quality standards of the global automotive industry – from South Africa and the Sub-Saharan market to the world.
Chemetall in South Africa
From its site in Boksburg, South Africa, Chemetall supplies customers in South Africa and Sub Sahara with innovative pre-treatment solutions. In order to increase customer proximity, Chemetall recently invested in the future of the site by expanding with a state-of-the-art new warehouse, a laboratory including a pilot plant, as well as modern offices.
“We are continuously strengthening our footprint in order to serve our valued customers in this region. We have a dedicated and proud team committed to South Africa and its people,” says Christopher Hoffmann, Managing Director Chemetall South Africa. The site in Boksburg is located at the East Rand of Johannesburg, approximately 20 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport, and has very good traffic connections.
The Boksburg site expansion is only one of Chemetall’s investment projects around the globe. Chemetall investments go beyond: in Pinghu near Shanghai, China, Chemetall has recently started the construction of a new surface treatment production site, which is expected to commence operation in the first quarter of 2021. In November 2019, Chemetall completed the expansion of its production site in Langelsheim, Germany, inaugurating a new laboratory and office building, as well as the expansion of the aircraft sealants production.