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Lear Corporation

Year Submitted: 2006

Process: Painting/Coating

Industry: Manufacturing - Auto Parts

Wastes Reduced: solid waste: paint and plastic

Location: Iowa City IA

No. of employees: 115,000

Contact: Ben Hanson

Phone: 319-338-9281


Lear Corporation desired to reduce the amount of virgin plastic purchased by altering its production schedule and to reduce paint usage by using more efficient practices.

P2 Application:

Production Costs Weighed - A program was created that would weigh all costs of production and determine the optimal number of parts to produce daily to lower costs and reduce waste while still meeting demand. Previously, manufacturing was based on Just-In-Time production, which created a large amount of start-up scrap but virtually no inventory cost.

Paint Training - Paint training was obtained through the Iowa Waste Reduction Center. Previously, Lear's painters were trained by each other and little control was imposed over the amount of paint used to coat the parts. With proper training and the implementation of mechanical controls, such as flow restrictors, acceptable coats were formed with much less paint. New Paint Process - A vinyl electrostatic paint process was designed to greatly increase transfer efficiency, the ratio of the amount of paint covering the part to the amount of paint used. Lear utilizes robotic arms to paint parts faster and with less paint than human painters. However, the robotic arms still have relatively low transfer efficiencies, leading to a significant amount of emissions and a large production cost. Lear is in the process of creating and implementing the first electrostatic paint line for a vinyl part. Electrostatic painting would increase the efficiency significantly, greatly reducing both cost and emissions.

Grinder and Saw Efficiency - More efficient use of grinders and saws was implemented to increase the amount of scrap plastic reused. Lear currently reuses a significant amount of scrap plastic by grinding it and then feeding it back into the process. Due to multiple colors and types, not all scrap can be ground, and is instead sold as scrap at a large loss to Lear. By more efficiently using grinders and saws, more product could be reused, hence lowering the amount of new material purchased and lowering the amount of material scrapped.

Details of Reductions

  • 109,200.0 - Pounds of   plastic
  • 2,250.0 - Gallons of   paint
  • 7,100.0 - Gallons of   paint
  • 174,800.0 - Pounds of   plastic

Additional Information :

Lear Corporation ranks 131 in the Fortune 500 and has 280 plants in 33 countries with more than 115,000 employees. It is the first company capable of being the sole provider of interior automotive components. Lear Iowa City specializes in the production of armrests, door panels and dashboards for several automakers, and has a history of pollution prevention and recycling programs.

Source: P2Ric

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