Throughout two and a half years of a worldwide pandemic and varying levels of lockdowns and travel restrictions, a project team across four countries collaborated to establish a new production facility at the Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) plant in Kariega.
This R235-million project came to fruition recently when the ultra-modern wax flooding facility began operating here – simultaneously improving the efficiency and environmental impact of the wax flooding process for locally-built Volkswagen Polos and Polo Vivos.
The wax flooding process, which serves to protect Volkswagen vehicles from corrosion in the cavities of the vehicle body, is now performed in a building covering 5 350m² across four levels, in the plant’s former electro-coating facility. This same process is what enables Volkswagen to sell vehicles with a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.
The process of wax flooding follows after the body of a vehicle has been painted, as certain cavities in the body are inaccessible during the painting process. First the vehicle body is put on a hanger and heated to 60 degrees Celsius in a pre-heating oven, to prevent the wax from solidifying too quickly when it is injected. Next, the body is lowered onto a wax flooding frame where wax (heated to 110 degrees) is injected and flooded into the cavities. Finally, the vehicle is tipped at a 15-degree angle to allow excess wax to run off for re-use. The wax used for the process is shipped from Germany in the form of tablets weighing 4,26 kilograms, which are melted down on site.
Using this new facility has not only allowed the VWSA plant to increase the volume of vehicles moving through the wax facility, but also the environmental impact of the process. The new facility uses 25% less energy for heating, and – as it uses liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) – has reduced CO₂ emissions for the process by 55%.