First Time’s the Charm for Powder Coating Integrator
It’s no easy chore to take over a large business with the task of doubling its sales, but that’s exactly what Hartzell Air Movement President Sean Steimle did when he joined the Piqua, Ohio, company from another heating and air firm in early 2012. To make it happen, Steimle relied on a company that was a newcomer to the integration business, but a long-time veteran in the powder coating industry.
Hartzell—a manufacturer of industrial air moving solutions serving a variety of markets throughout the world since 1875—had just opened a new Singapore manufacturing and sales office in 2011, so expectations were high on the Hartzell team to build business relationships and continue to deliver quality products for the HVAC industry.
The addition was intended to help grow Hartzell’s custom-made axial and centrifugal fan business, particularly for semiconductor manufacturers, mining, wastewater, and other heavy industrial applications.
“Our fans are installed in very corrosive environments and we are constantly looking into ways to increase their lifespan for our customers,” Steimle sys.
The company’s expansion plans included a new powder coating operation at the company headquarters, which recently underwent a $6.8 million renovation project that added a bevy of new coating equipment and a “high-bay” facility that features a 23-foot under-hook crane height and a new 900-sq-ft sandblast room.
The task of putting all of this together for Hartzell fell to Sustainable Technology Solutions—a startup in the integration industry, but a long-time powder coating expert.
Chris Wright at Carolina Custom Clad, an industrial production shop located in Rock Hill, S.C., that performs pretreatment processing, thermal stripping, media blasting and powder coating, recently started Sustainable Technology Solutions as a custom integrator.
Wright and his father, Chuck, founded Carolina Custom Clad in 1997 after decades of experience in the custom coating industry. Chuck ran a coating shop in upstate New York for more than 30 years before joining his son in the Carolinas, at a shop that specializes in large products with a line that can accommodate sizes up to 10 by 10
by 30 feet.
“After all these years working in the coating industry, I had always wanted to try to be a system integrator,” Chris says. “Who better to know how a system should be set up than a guy running a shop every day?”
Chris’s own shop has three lines, and all the features of a modern powder coating facility, including an I-beam rail system, a powered bridge crane, a chemical wash system, a dry-off oven, media blast and manual application equipment. He also has an automated conveyorized line with a five-stage washer and a specialized “hybrid” conveyorized/batch line.
“Over the years, we’ve used a lot of different equipment and tried many new things,” he says. “There came a day when I decided to offer my knowledge to others. The background I have in running a shop I think really lends well to setting up the right equipment and then getting everything functioning in a very efficient way. It’s what we do every day at the shop.”
Well-Known in Powder
The Wrights are a well-known name in the powder coating industry—Chuck was one of the original supporters of involving custom coaters in the Powder Coating Institute, and Chris is a former PCI board member.
“That was one of the benefits of being on the PCI board; I did get to interact with a lot of people and a lot of suppliers,” Chris says. “It really made me aware of a lot of things that were going on in the industry.”
Chris had a previous connection with Hartzell, and he was quickly hired on to help design the new powder coating system, as well as work with equipment manufacturers and suppliers to get products installed and ready to run.
His main task: provide the blast, paint and transfer systems.
Pieces of a Puzzle
Although Sustainable Technology Solutions is a distributor for Wagner Industrial Solutions for the Carolinas and provides technical services for all powder coating applications, Hartzell also wanted to install two manual powder coating guns from Parker Ionics in Westland, Mich.
The other parts of the puzzle included ovens from Rapid Engineering in Comstock Park, Mich., and wash equipment from PEM Corp. in Mankato, Minn.
Rapid Engineering LLC specializes in building air management and industrial process and finishing equipment, which included the large batch ovens Hartzell needed.
“Our rep worked with them on the design based on their process and needs,” says David Roberts, director of sales for Rapid’s industrial process and finishing equipment.
Rapid’s dry-off ovens are designed with energy-efficient, air-impingement, high-velocity ductwork that shears moisture from the part at lower temperatures and reduced drying times, which Roberts says helps reduce operating costs.
The large ovens with conveyor slots are designed with energy efficient burner boxes, controls and ductwork, he says, but also with minimal turbulence promoting, so that even oven temperatures will balance for high-quality drying and curing results.
“They also have a fully-modulating burner system with a 25-to-one turndown ratio that results in increased energy efficiency and reduced ‘thermal shock,” Roberts says.
STS installed PEM’s SprayWand pretreatment system, a P-300 model that was set up a separate alkaline cleaner injection system, a phosphate injection system and a fresh water rinse feature.
John Kapsner, president of PEM, says the system can replicate a seven-stage washer and has the flexibility of a manual system.
“It produces the same high-quality results of high-end, multi-stage pretreatment systems, at a fraction of the cost,” he says. “The P300 is the only system in the industry that can apply chemicals at either heated or ambient temperature and at high pressure for maximum cleaning.”
The fixed orifice injectors can deliver precise chemical metering for maximum performance and savings, says Kapsner, and the downstream injection provides better, faster cleaning. Plus, the pump components are not exposed to chemical, he says.
Chris says it was important to work with companies that he has a lengthy relationship with, especially when it came to his first integration project.
“It gives you great peace of mind to know who you’re working with and what type of equipment they can provide you with,” he says. “I’ve known a lot of these companies and their people for a long time. And they know me, too, and the quality of work I demand.”
The addition of the powder coating operation increased product consistency and quality control, says Tom Gustafson, Hartzell’s CTO. The company also likes that the process is gentler on the environment compared with liquid paints, since it doesn’t contain any solvents.
“Our powder coat paint booth has many advantages,” says Gustafson. “The process is inherently safer and cleaner than other paint lines and the powder covers our products better, even in tiny crevices as well as around edges.”
Steimle says the new powder booth also improves production efficiency due to its quicker curing process. And he likes that the powder coating doesn’t involve additional premixing, stirring, solvent additions or viscosity adjustments, all of which equates to less product variation and better quality control. “This curing and cross-linking process bonds the powder coating to the surface of the substrate and creates a very durable and long-lasting finish,” he says.
For information on Sustainable Technology Solutions, visit ccc-sts.com; Parker Ionics, Parkerionics.com; Rapid Engineering, Rapidengineering.com; and PEM Corporation, Pemnet.com.
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