Emerging Standards for Automotive Assembly Plants: The Need for a Systems Approach 1999-01-0994
New environmental emissions standards for automotive assembly plants are currently under development, as mandated by the U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The implementation of these standards, anticipated to be finalized by the year 2000, will drive changes in both the technology and the operational procedures at the plants. While innovative paint technologies such as waterborne or powder paints can potentially improve plant environmental performance, introducing these materials into the production process can impact existing equipment and procedures. Understanding where and how to make these changes most effectively is a major challenge. Automotive assembly plants must balance reduction in emissions and production costs with maintaining the quality of the vehicle finish. Research conducted on the environmental performance of assembly plants in the U.S. shows that a systems perspective and supplier expertise can be more effective than merely substituting materials or changing process technology.