Stopping Paint Line Bottlenecks

New Exel system on paint line improves efficiency by 95 percent


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Dave Antonioli just might be the most popular guy at AUMA Actuators these days, but that wasn’t always the case.

AUMA has manufactured valve actuators for more than 45 years and is a major supplier of electric actuators and manual operators to the industry. As a member of the paint line staff, Antonioli for years would mix paint material that had a one-hour pot life, forcing him to constantly start and stop production, and therefore affecting the loader and unloaders, the shipping department, and, ultimately, the sales team.

“It was a lot of measuring, pouring, dripping, spilling, wiping and cleaning,” Antonioli says. “We used many liners, cups and stir sticks, and we threw them away daily.”

Those weren’t the only things he was throwing away. Antonioli estimates he was wasting about two gallons of paint a day through flushing and cleaning, at a cost of $100 each day. He says he also was going through about 1.5 gal of solvent each day for the start/stops, as well as wasting a total of about three hours each day, having to stop about 16 times a day for about 10 minutes each time to change and clean parts of the system.

Suffice it to say, AUMA Actuators knew it had a problem and wanted to fix it. Tony Scacchitti, manager of manufacturing engineering, called in Tom Brown, a regional manager for Exel North America, to discuss what could be done to improve the situation. Exel manufactures Kremlin Rexson paint finishing systems. Brown, in turn, huddled with Mark Miklos, a sales representative for Sherwin-Williams, whose paints AUMA was using, and they mapped out a plan for improvement.

Brown recommended the Kremlin Rexson PU3000 electro-mechanical system, which incorporates a unique “plug and play” concept for mixing two component paints. Its “pulse-free control” technology is said to deliver pulsation-free performance for improved quality of mixing and application. Brown says the system also has electronic, variable-ratio pumps that ensure accurate, reliable mixing and controlled fluid delivery, and the control panel can be remote mounted or machine mounted.

“If a company uses hot-pot or hand mixing, and has infrequent color changes, this is the perfect machine for them,” Brown says. “On average, the PU3000 will save (or add) about 50 minutes of production time each day.”

The results for AUMA have been dramatic and have earned Antonioli his friends back.

Since the changeover, with hardly any stoppage or waste from cleaning up, Scacchitti says the waste amounts to about $9 a day or about $200 a year. That’s a humongous cost saving of 95 percent compared with the previous system.

The PU3000 system has an automatic component management system for the base coat, catalyst and solvent. It features an automatic flushing and material generation system, and the “pulse-free control” technology means plus or minus one percent mixing accuracy and plus or minus one percent repeatability.

Previously, Antonioli would open a new bucket of material each morning and begin mixing by hand, using an electric mixer, for about five minutes. He would then measure and blend the resin, thinner, accelerator and catalyst materials for another five minutes.

“Each was measured in a cup, poured into a container, mixed, and then poured into the gun pot,” he says. “The cups and sticks were cleaned with solvent and re-used, when possible, or tossed out. This process was about 10-15 minutes each time.”

Antonioli would mix about a two-quart pot, and the material would last about one hour. He would repeat these steps about 10 times a day per shift, and so would the second-shift painter. At the end of the day, they would flush the gun and fluid line, clean the pots again, and then manually carry thinner to the booth to clean the gun and lines.

With the new system, those days are gone.

“The PU3000 takes the guesswork out of the pot life,” Antonioli says. “If I forgot the time I mixed the material, I had to guess on the pot life expiration. To avoid issues, we would toss it and remix material, adding to waste.”

Now Antonioli checks the paint levels each morning and, if needed, opens a new can and puts it on an agitator. He also checks the paint viscosity and adds thinner if needed. Sherwin-Williams provides the resin with the formula ready to spray. There is no accelerator or catalyst added, and the thinner is only added if out of range.

“The material has been coming in perfect,” Scacchitti says. “We only add a little thinner as needed, only occasionally.”

AUMA still uses about 5 gal of paint a day, but it isn’t throwing much away. Instead, the material is being used more effectively, as the paint staff now only flushes the system at the end of the shift and not for breaks or lunch as it had before.

Antonioli says the company only flushed the gun three times in the first month of use due to pot life concerns, whereas it had been doing so up to two times per day in the past. According to Scacchitti, throughput is difficult to compare since the speed of the AUMA paint line itself hasn’t changed and the parts are large and the conveyor slow. Production, therefore, is steady but limited to what is produced and ready to ship.

“But, we have noticed that there is less product waiting to be painted,” Scacchitti says. ”Painting is definitely not the bottleneck anymore.”

Another thing that Scacchitti says was immediately noticeable after switching to the Kremlin system was the quality of the paint finish.

“There is consistency between shifts,” he says. “Before, it was possible to mix differently or use the wrong reducer, and parts were shinier. This system has reduced human error and gives consistency to the finished product.”

Besides not being the holdup in the company’s operations every day, Antonioli says there have been other improvements in his work environment, too.

“The best benefit is I don’t breathe in chemicals now,” he says. “There’s no paint on the arms, hands and body. My clothes are cleaner. The chemical exposure has been cut to almost nothing, and that is the best benefit.”n

For information on Exel North America, Inc. - Kremlin Rexson Paint Finishing Systems, visit kremlinrexson-sames.com/en/usa.




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