Liquid Coatings Q&A: Conveyorized Paint Operations

When to conveyorize your liquid coatings operation.


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Q. At what point or volume of production does it make sense to conveyorize my painting operation?

A. First, examine your variables. What is your production? Do you have expenditure to justify the need for a conveyorized system? Second, how much time does it take to transport parts between the processes? Are you spending more time moving parts than processing? Is your shop set up for a smooth process flow, but you still fall behind? Are carts taking up your floor space?

There are some benefits of moving product from process to process: there is more time spent on the process and the product moves on a timed basis, ensuring it is in the right spot at the right time.

Choosing a conveyor requires a thorough examination of the line and a cost proposal—some lines will be more expensive than others.

There are many different types of conveyors:

  • Roller conveyors. These can either be manual or free rolling if your parts, trays and racks can sit on rollers and roll freely downhill. A chain-driven live roller, on the other hand, will power the production.
  • Tow line. Can you tow your carts or wheeled products?
  • Powered carts. These are very basic carts with little control that move from point to point on a timer or with a push to start moving.
  • Inverted power and free. These conveyors carry parts, racks and carts, and even entire vehicles.
  • Overhead conveyor. These conveyors are either free rolling or manual and are powered by a monorail that moves a set distance and stops for a period of time. This is a more automated process for batch operations.
  • Overhead hoists.
  • Programmable hoists.
  • Square transfer/walking beam.

 

There are other types of conveyors, but more basic solutions are more affordable. The decision depends on a shop’s individual processes.

The least expensive option is the free rolling/manual conveyor. This option may enable you to get more parts on a rack. In addition, it takes up less space, makes moving parts quicker and enables lines to load more into an oven. Maximizing your racking or loading will help to improve production.

Other questions to ask before deciding on a conveyor: First, can you load a monorail conveyor system and keep it moving at 3 feet per minute? If you can’t, then batch may be your best bet, so consider ways to improve your batch system. Are your parts/production capable of continuous production? And can you afford new equipment? Most batch equipment can’t be used in a continuous system. A conveyorized system can cost from $500,000 to over $1 million, depending on your goals for the system. And finally, if business makes a downturn, can you downsize staff or other areas to accommodate the cost of the equipment?

Years ago, a customer and I analyzed his production needs. Their production was right in the midst of a decision between heavy batch and conveyorized production. The investment difference was roughly $100,000 for batch and $230,000 for the conveyorized system (equipment only). Both required roughly the same investment in facility and operating costs, but the powered system (using a conveyor and bigger equipment) provided four times the production. In this case, the customer went conveyorized. 

 

Marty Powell is a territory manager for Global Finishing Solutions. Contact him at mpowell@globalfinishing.com or at 800-848-8738.

 

Originally published in the May 2016 issue.

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