Winter White is still one of the most popular colours for Volvo trucks, but an increasing number of the 300 or so trucks that leave the plant in Umeå every day are painted in different colours.
“There have recently been a large number of different colours and we are seeing more and more metallic and clear varnish. Metallic is my personal favourite. There’s a blue variant which is extremely attractive,” says, Quality Control Operator, Yvonne Määttä.
Before the cab is checked at the inspection station, it has to pass through a wide range of stages. After being dipped in the corrosion protection paint, primer is applied to the cab before the time comes for the robots to spray on the topcoat. The paint is then left to harden for 45 minutes in a large oven.
Even if the actual painting process is fully automated, many different people and functions are involved in working on colours. Some of them work at the paint lab, one floor up at the plant.
Among other things, new colours are developed at the lab and this is where customer requests also end up. Because, even though Volvo Trucks offers its customers no fewer than 800 different variants, new requests and wishes are received every week.
“We have, for example, received samples on a piece of fabric, mobile phone shell or nail polish. In most cases, we are able to offer customers colours that are very close to the ones they want or else we can develop a totally new colour. Only in very rare cases are we forced to say no. That’s when the colour doesn’t have the necessary properties,” explains Andreas Bask, Paint Lab Manager.
Before a new colour is introduced into production, it is subjected to rigorous tests and checks.
Volvo Trucks’ customers set rigorous requirements for their trucks and every step in the painting process is important in order to ensure quality and make sure that the customer is given the precise colour he or she has specified.
“We conduct a close dialogue with all the functions that are involved in the process. Even if we all have different focal points, everyone is aiming for the same thing – to ensure that the end result is as good as it can possibly be.
Volvo Trucks is a premium brand and customers expect the paint to last for a very long time,” says Andreas Bask.
The Volvo Group cab plant in Umeå has also invested heavily in improving both the internal and external environment. With advanced cleaning technology for air, new solvent-free materials and modern painting equipment, the plant is currently one of the world’s cleanest paintshop within the automotive industry.
The Volvo Cab Competence Center is located at the plant in Umeå. This means that the plant provides support for the development of new product concepts for cabs, as well as innovative and profitable production technologies within stamping, assembly and surface treatment. Umeå is also the introductory plant for new technologies and materials. It supports other plants in the Volvo Group with know-how and technical support when it comes to matters related to processes and product issues related to manufacturing.