Q. We are thinking of installing a new small parts powder coat system. Some of our executives are asking why we are not tearing down and moving to our facility a sister site’s 12-year-old system that’s 300 miles away and has a 4 × 6-ft part window formerly used to paint larger frames. One topic they are stuck on is that they want to hang a full part window of small parts perpendicular to the conveyor and process them that way to increase line density. I think I know why myself, but can I hear from an expert as to if that is a good idea or not, and why?
Also, I understand that you cannot judge the condition of the system, but do you have any thoughts on a paint system moved from one factory to another, given age, technology, maintenance and future headaches? Thanks Rodger! J.K.
A. The goals for racking parts for powder coating do include good density. They also include good positioning for powder coating. There is a point at which the issue of good density and the issue of good positioning for powder coating part ways. If you rack too deep across the rail you cannot reliably coat the parts near the center and you cannot maintain uniform film build. A four-foot-wide opening is not good at all for small parts. Get your density in the other two dimensions, vertical and direction of travel. It is a very bad idea to rack too deep across the rail. You cannot reach the center and do a good job of coating.
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As far as moving the system, the first issue to consider is how well it fits the parts that you want to run. In your case it sounds like it is not a good fit. The condition of the equipment and the technology also play a part in the decision process. It may just have natural wear that can be easily repaired. If it was not a good quality system to begin with, it has not gotten better with age. On the other hand, if it was well built to begin with it, may still have a lot of value. What you need to do (beyond the fit issue) is evaluate the cost to move it and make it work. Then try to determine how many years of life you can expect to get from it. The cost should be half as much as new and the life should be at least 12 years or it is not worth it to move the old stuff. And give some thought to your future growth and the opportunity to take advantage of emerging technology.