Powder Coating—Simpler and Smarter

Article From: Products Finishing, from Wagner Systems

Posted on: 12/1/2000

Because MetoPoxy's powder coating booths were not meeting new environmental standards, it searched for the best solution. What it found was a booth that exceeded its environmental standards and more . . .

Established in 1984, MetoPoxy (Montreal, Canada) is a division of J.P. Metal America. In addition to spraying a variety of metals used in store displays for its parent company's clients, MetoPoxy also serves a broad range of other manufacturers. From doors and windows on buses and trucks to a range of indoor and outdoor products, more than 100 customers rely on the job shop's expertise. So, when one of its two powder booths no longer met environmental standards, the company undertook a serious search to find the best solution that could grow along with its business.

Several vendors suggested purchasing two additional booths, but MetoPoxy had neither the space, time nor personnel to handle so much equipment. General Manager Virginio Basile envisioned a single system that was smarter, simpler and superior to anything he had experienced. After seeing Wagner's Automatic Booth Cleaning (ABC) system on-line at several European sites, he was convinced his vision had become a reality.

The booth's automatic color change capability was the determining factor. "Color changes are part of the routine here," said Mr. Basile, "varying by season and numbering anywhere from 25 to 55 per week. We had been using a booth where you have to change the plastic walls, not clean them. The real difference is the booth—automatic vs. manual."

The spray booth is designed for applications that require multiple color changes. The system shortens cleaning time and significantly reduces manual labor associated with the cleaning process. Booth construction allows charged particles to be repelled by the interior walls and concentrated on the product being coated. This ensures minimal powder deposits. Less powder circulates, resulting in quicker, more effective coating. Any residual powder is continuously recycled to the cyclone powder recovery unit.

MetoPoxy is proud to have the first installation of this system in North America. Unique to its operation, the new system was placed alongside the manual booth, presenting a clear comparison. According to Mr. Basile, the new racking process and spray booth automation have made it possible to double the line speed. The company is realizing a 20% powder savings and dramatic waste reduction, with the manual booth generating 15% and the automatic system a mere 7% waste. Color changes that had been taking 30-40 min are now accomplished in 15 min or less. The orange peel effect that had been a major concern before the automatic spray booth was installed has now virtually been eliminated. And, touchups are a problem of the past.

Since the system was installed, MetoPoxy has made some operational changes for the better. Shifts have been reduced from five to three. With the automatic guns, fewer people are needed in the powder coating stage. But, with product moving through at a faster pace, these workers were put to great use in the loading and unloading areas. Yet, even with all the reorganization, sales have risen 10%, and predictions of future earnings run even higher.

MetoPoxy personnel described the booth as "operator friendly." All shifts were trained within 3 weeks. And, even though the system is sophisticated, Mr. Basile believes there are fewer complications with regard to human error. "We used to have 15 painters with manual guns and lots of problems with breakage and repair. We even went as far as to lock up each gun separately in order to keep track of who was touching what. Now, even though more guns are involved, they're automatic and their parts are interchangeable. They stay in place, and, with minimal human contact, the chance for accidents has been greatly reduced."

Should problems arise, Wagner support is on-call around the clock. "Service is very important," noted Mr. Basile, "especially when you're running multiple shifts. Whenever we need something, our local representative is here, informed and ready to solve whatever issues come up."

MetoPoxy took a bold step in upgrading its powder line. The company's confidence in its own business and its equipment choice has given it measurable results in just months of operation. "The finished product is much better than before. Product is out quickly and in high numbers. And, most important, our customers are happy. It was an investment well worth making, and I anticipate we'll recoup it in far less time than was originally calculated. Bottom line is that it worked so well that we just replaced the other line with another automatic booth."

 

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