The IBC plant in Luton, England, which makes the Vauxhall Vivaro and Renault Trafic panel vans, is to receive a £3.4m makeover in paint production facilities.

The GM-owned IBC operation plans a paint shop investment which will improve capacity utilisation by increasing the rate of production by 4.5 vehicles an hour. GM says the outlay means the Luton plant can now build to its planned 86,000 annualised capacity during the normal working week, leaving weekends free for routine maintenance and for building more vehicles should the demand go even higher.

Since start of production last year the throughput in the paint shop has more than doubled from 7.8 vehicles per hour to 16 vehicles per hour. The latest work, carried out during the summer break, will increase this to 20.5 vehicles per hour. With the plant working three shifts this equates to 367 Vivaro and Trafic vans a day in addition to 65 Frontera recreational off-road vehicles, all processed through the same paint shop facility.

The increased throughput results from decoupling the conveyors, effectively dividing the entire paint process into five adjoining sections. The impact of any downtime, resulting for example from a paint robot needing some routine adjustment, can therefore now be localised. This also means that even more time can be spent maintaining the vehicle’s car-like build quality, which has been a major contributor to its success.

The new facilities were installed during the plant’s traditional three-week summer break, which also provided the opportunity for a major ‘deep cleaning’ operation, whereby all the dip tanks and paint booths have been thoroughly purged and the air-conditioning plant meticulously over-hauled.

Commenting on the new layout and further planned investments as part of GM’s long-term manufacturing plan, Edmond Roy, paint unit manager, said: “This latest paint shop investment will further help secure jobs and the future of the Luton plant. It underlines our commitment to concentrate on van production at Luton. We will follow this up later in the year with additional spend on the latest automated spray technology.”

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The majority of Vivaro and Trafic production from the Luton site is for European markets.