BASF and DuPont Performance Coatings have received 2004 Automotive News Premier Automotive Suppliers' Contribution to Excellence (PACE) Awards for technology developments related to automotive-coatings materials and application processes.

BASF was recognized for its ColorCARE system, a software-based tool that helps ensure precise color match between new vehicle bodies and add-on parts. Dupont won the award for its "wet-on-wet" coatings system that allows two-tone styling in one pass through a paint line for Ford Motor Co. pickup trucks.

The BASF system was developed in Ludwigshafen, Germany. With the help of the system's analytical software, a technician at an assembly plant can continuously monitor the color match between vehicle bodies and add-on parts, such as bumpers and mirror housings, as the units move along the line. When the system detects a deviation, further "build-out" of the vehicle can be stopped, and the cause of the color deviation can be eliminated by adjusting the paint or application process.

Add-on parts are manufactured by suppliers that paint the parts at their own facilities and deliver them to manufacturing plants for assembly on new vehicles. Often, a difference between the color of an add-on part and the rest of the vehicle body is sufficient to require refinishing. By helping eliminate color deviations at the factory, the ColorCARE tool has been shown to reduce end-of-line refinishing costs for companies such as General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen, BASF says.

DuPont says its wet-on-wet system involved its coatings-product development efforts and process innovations carried out by Ford. The process is reported to have delivered cost savings and accelerated assembly-line output for Ford's popular F-250 and F-350 pickup trucks made at the company's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

The process allows vehicles to receive two enamel colors in one rather than two trips through a paint booth and oven. DuPont says the process reduces the amount of tape, plastics and paper typically used as masking in the two-color painting procedure. In addition, vehicles painted with the process require less handling, reducing the chance that dirt and other contaminants can chip or scratch the paint. The paint also eliminates the need for additional basecoat and clearcoat layers.

In the process, a conventional exterior body primer is applied to the box and upper panels of the vehicle that will be painted with the main color, while a specialized primer developed by DuPont is applied to lower sections that receive the accent color. The second primer enables the color accent coat to be applied over the wet prime layer with no loss of chip protection, corrosion protection and durability.

The PACE Award was established in 1994 by Automotive News and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young to honor automotive suppliers that have embraced innovation or reinvented themselves to meet the needs of the automotive industry.