BASF's Coatings division has opened a new laboratory for automotive OEM coatings at its site in Munster, using a lab dosing machine developed for BASF.

"BASF cooperates very closely with all major automotive manufacturers worldwide to develop advanced coatings technologies," said BASF Coatings Division president, Dirk Bremm.

"Through the digitisation of processes, optimised use of resources, and automation, we can respond more efficiently and address our customers' needs."

Since 2014, BASF has invested EUR24m (US$28m) to overhaul an existing laboratory building for this purpose, which included adding an extra storey. The building now features four laboratory levels with offices and lab workplaces which are all digitally linked.

A lab dosing machine which BASF says is "unique in the coatings industry" was specifically built for the lab in Munster. BASF collaborated with machine manufacturer Fricke Dosing + Filling Systems from Minden, Germany, to develop the machine.

At 12metres long and weighing eight tons, it can manufacture standard formulae from more than 300 liquid raw materials. 

All job orders and associated experiments within the lab are digitally stored and documented.

"The Lean Lab in Munster is our pilot project," said BASF Coatings division product development Europe, Wolfgang Reckordt.

"Since late 2017, we have been gathering experience we can use for introducing the Lean Lab at other sites in Europe: in Wurzburg, Germany; Guadalajara, Spain; and Clermont, France.

"Lean Lab is our new European standard and will open up many possibilities for us to intensify product development and respond flexibly to new challenges."