Archives for March 2015

Gas Catalytic IR – The 3:1 Rule

This article was first published in Powder Coating magazine, November 2014

Gas Catalytic IR – 3:1 Rule Provides Key to Success

Gas Catalytic IRThe use of Gas Catalytic IR technology in the finishing, curing and drying industries has now become so well accepted that more and more companies are not asking:  “Will it work for me?”, but “How soon do we make the change?”. The understanding of the advantages of the technology has improved dramatically over recent years, but it is worth reviewing  the most quoted rule of thumb, relating to Gas Catalytic IR, the 3:1 rule, and looking at a couple of examples that demonstrate why it is often quoted.

What is the 3:1 Rule?

Stated simply, the 3:1 rule says that for every three minutes it takes to cure a part in a conventional convection oven, it will require only one minute in a Gas Catalytic IR oven. So, for example, parts that normally take 30 minutes to cure conventionally, only take 10 minutes in a Gas Catalytic IR oven.  Obviously, it is not exact across a wide range of parts; some take less time (thin sheet metal parts for example) and some take slightly longer (heavy, geometrically complex parts). But the 3:1 rule is a good place to start when considering the most appropriate curing technology to use. Why is the 3:1 Rule so Important? The most obvious answer has to be the fundamental fact that it demonstrates that less energy is required. But sometimes overlooked is the additional fact that the reduced gas consumption has a further level of control which is achieved by the use of zones and PLC controls. But, it does not stop there. A further look into the “knock on” effects, show that for a given track speed, less time in the oven, means a shorter oven is required; smaller form factor means more efficient use of manufacturing space. So the opportunity for overall manufacturing cost reduction becomes a reality.

Read the rest of the article here


IR Pre Gel Oven Case Study

Pre Gel Oven Case Study


GEA Searle Pre Gel Oven

The Going Gets Tough……

When Ryan Davis (Production Manager at GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems) went home one evening a couple of years ago, after a normal busy day, he was pleased to put his feet up. Little did he know that, overnight, an unforeseen event would occur that would ultimately lead to the installation of a brand new powder coating system that he didn’t know he needed.

Ryan works for GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems, a global company that manufactures heat exchangers. The Fareham facility produces air conditioning and refrigeration units for industrial and commercial customers worldwide. The company has a well earned reputation for quality products, delivered on time, in a very competitive market. The company is a World Class manufacturer, which is undoubtedly due in part to the adoption of Lean Manufacturing techniques in 2010.

The unforeseen event?

The manufacturing plant in Fareham, Hampshire suffered a fire that destroyed 40% of the site. The sudden complete loss of their painting and powder coating plant was potentially catastrophic, but in true British Bulldog spirit, the whole team rallied together and put together a plan to ensure that the inevitable disruption was kept to a minimum. Local sub contract powder coaters stepped up to the plate and helped to keep production flowing until GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems could restore the manufacturing capability at the plant.

One of the first things that Ryan did was to call Angus Trenholme of Junair Spraybooths Ltd., GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems had successfully worked with Angus on many previous painting and powder coating projects, so it did not take long for a specification to be put together, quoted and ordered.

Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel Oven – Part Of The Solution

Being a Lean Manufacturing company, GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems took this opportunity to update their powder coating capability; the shortlist of requirements was straight forward:

  • Minimum 6,000 parts  per week (mainly galvanized panels, 200⁰C cure polyester powder)
  • Improved quality
  • Reduced operating costs
  • Smaller footprint
  • 1.6 m/min track speed with potential to increase to 2 m/min and eventually 3 m/min
  • Reduced maintenance

A tall order!  Angus, contacted Vulcan Catalytic Systems (now Heraeus Vulcan), and asked us to design a suitable Pre Gel oven for the new powder coating system. The main purpose of the Pre Gel oven is to reduce the overall cure time by raising the powder temperature up to 200⁰C very quickly, so the powder flows and starts the curing process. Whilst we designed the oven and supplied the IR technology, Junair pulled together the rest of the project which involved new Pre Treatment plant, drying oven and powder application equipment. Junair Spraybooths Ltd. – GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems – Case  Study.


The Gas Catalytic Pre Gel oven that we designed consists of two sections, with 10 individual heaters and three separately controllable zones in each section. The fully reflected design ensures maximum efficiency and the PLC controls are configured to optimize energy savings by automatically dropping into the energy saving  “Low Fire” mode when there are breaks in production.

Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel ovens from Heraeus Vulcan offer a proven, flexible solution that can enhance any conventional convection oven (advantages of Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel Ovens – Read more…). The main advantages are:

  • Increased line speed
  • Increased capacity and productivity
  • Reduced footprint
  • Reduced cross contamination of powder

The final system has now been up and running since December 2014. Ryan reports that he is very pleased with how it is working. Already significant improvements are being recorded, especially in energy consumption. The improvement in quality has been proven by the results of controlled Salt Spray tests, which will mean fewer warranty claims and a reduction in the Total Cost of Quality.

“We now have a highly efficient, high quality paint finishing process. From the start to finish of the project Junair Spraybooths Ltd. did a great job. In particular, using Vulcan Catalytic Systems (now Heraeus Vulcan), for the design and supply of the Gas Catalytic IR oven components has proven to be a great decision. The improvement in finished product quality and reduced operating costs has exceeded our expectations.”

Ryan Davis (Production Manager, GEA Heat Exchangers – GEA Searle Systems)

Ryan has a new problem to deal with now! The increased capacity now means that he has to look at ways of improving the loading and unloading parts onto and off the track. Ah, the joys of Lean Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement. Good luck Ryan!

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