Archives for July 2017

Heraeus Assists Metsa to Improve Output, Quality and Reduce Operating Costs

Heraeus Assists Metsa to Improve Output, Quality and Reduce Operating Costs

 

Propane tank manufacturer Metsa, is a family-owned and operated propane tank manufacturing company. For more than 50 years, they have been involved in the sale and distribution of propane tanks, so Heraeus completely understands the high level of quality and specifications required on every pressure vessel.

Increased Sales, Insufficient Space and the need for Quality Improvements

Due to US expansion, the company was running out of room in the powder coating department at a time when sales were increasing.
The existing process required hand applied powder coatings that were cured using a propane powered, batch convection oven system. Unfortunately, this oven was only partially curing the larger tanks due to uneven air flow which caused large temperature differentials from top to bottom of the tanks. The problem occurred especially around the heavier collars and angular support feet.

Potentially, this could lead to quality issues in shipments, poor resistance to sunlight and even color variances.

With the increased level of business and competition, shorter lead times were being demanded by distributors along with a marked increase in output and overall quality improvements of the cured coating.

Change from Batch to In-Line Powder Coating

The decision was made to change the batch process into an in-line system. Space was at a premium, and with a required line speed of
.75 – 1 m/min, depending on product size, the oven length was a major factor in the decision making process.
Testing was initiated at the Heraeus plant in Buford GA. and it was quickly determined from testing of full scale 115 kg tanks, that a dwell time of 15 mins would be required for the catalytic IR oven and small tanks would cure in 10 mins.
A 10m IR oven was designed to meet the line speed requirement and an overhead conveyor was installed. The existing powder booth was re-configured to fit the in-line system.

Process Benefits of the new line

The use and control of the 10 zones along the length of the oven permitted precise temperature control from the bottom to the top of the oven as well as from entrance to exit. This exceptional level of zone control allows extra intensity to be applied at the bottom of the tanks where the extra angular metal feet are located. This completely eliminated the under cured and over baked areas
Due to the fact that the longwave IR is emitted in a half hemisphere – (see diagram), there are many waves of IR radiating from the panel from the multitude of catalytic reaction sites. The ray trace shows the radiation from a group of heaters (see diagram), ensures an even distribution of radiation that encapsulates the entire tank.

Additional benefits that ensured an 18 month return on investment.

Besides achieving an evenly, well cured powder coating, there were a number of additional benefits that have been realized since production started:

  • By switching to Natural Gas from Propane, the monthly operating costs dropped from $4,000 to $1,000.
  • Faster cycle times over the batch process reduced not only operating costs but production volume has increased with no increase in labor overheads.
  • Maintenance costs were substantially reduced – there was a constant maintenance factor on the old burner system and cleaning the batch oven to stop powder contamination from one batch to the next.
  • Faster cool down time – because IR heats the coating, the entire tank does not have to reach the cure temperature. This allows for reduced dwell time in the IR oven and ensures that the tanks cool much more quickly than the old process.
  • With the faster cool down, external fittings could be added to the tank while it was still on the production line. Previously the tanks were moved outside as they took so long to cool down.
  • Reject rates have been significantly reduced, which frees up the blasting/cleaning system from processing the quality rejects.

All of these gains permitted a ROI of less than 18 months on the oven and line upgrade costs.
The CEO of Metsa, Humberto Garza, remarked:

“What is really important to METSA is to have the peace of mind that we build stellar products. Great attention to detail is given in selecting the best materials and equipment to ensure the best quality and design for each of our tanks. Heraeus was an instrumental partner in setting up our revolutionary and automated paint line. We look forward to working with them on other projects.”

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Life Fitness doubles its production due to gas catalytic infrared

Life Fitness doubles its production due to gas catalytic infrared

Two gas catalytic ovens from Heraeus are helping Life Fitness in Illinois, USA to double production and save costs.

The new system was installed quickly during scheduled facility down-time and was operational in less than a month.
Life Fitness has been offering high quality fitness solutions for 45 years to benefit both facilities and exercisers, using a wide range of cardio, strength and group training products. The fitness equipment is coated with powder lacquer, which is cured by heating. The predicted growth in their product line and coating schemes required a significant expansion of their powder coating operation with only a limited increase in plant size. Until now the curing process was achieved exclusively with a convection oven. Some parts require two top coats and these are rehung after the first coat to facilitate the second coat and cure. In order to integrate single and double coated parts into the continuous flow line, whilst preventing powder contamination, pre-planned gaps are required to re-hang parts requiring a second coat. This process had always been an ergonomic issue as no mechanical lifts are available due to lack of space. The line was operating at 2.4 m/min, but effectively with the double application, the part yield for two coat parts was only 50%. One option was to add another convection oven to cure the first coat before applying the second coat. Since floor space was at a premium this was not going to be a feasible or a cost-effective alternative.
The smartest solution was to add two Gas Catalytic IR Pre Gel Ovens from Heraeus. After successful tests were carried out in our Buford facility, a two-line system was launched. Today, two lines run parallel, one for parts with one coating and one for parts with two coatings. Each line has a gas catalytic infrared oven and a corresponding paint booth. For the final curing, the lines run through the existing convection oven. This system achieved the desired 2.4m/min. line speed along with the option of going to 3m/min. More importantly, even though the line speed has not changed, the output of the powder coating plant has doubled. The introduction of Gas Catalytic IR technology from Heraeus has ensured additional savings on Natural Gas and Electrical costs. The adoption of the latest technology has also attracted local Utility grants which has helped to reduce the overall capital spend.
Adam Pederson, Manufacturing Engineer of Life Fitness, says: “I have been truly impressed with final result we achieved by working with Heraeus. The process of planning, testing and implementation has been smooth and we now have a very effective powder coating system which incorporates the latest technology.”

Features

  • Curing of powder coating on fitness equipment
  • Output of plant doubled
  • Energy and cost savings

Technical Data

  • Installation of 2 gas catalytic infrared pre gel ovens
  • Two-line system as some parts require double coating
  • Line speed from 2.4m/min. to up to 3m/min. if desired

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Vulcan Catalytic Systems © 2012–Present  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Admin
Website Network Setup Toni Mills Graphic Design | Content & SEO - Chris Chapman