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.”

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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

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Powder Coated Timber in the Construction Industry

Powder Coated Timber in the Construction Industry

How Gas Catalytic IR technology from Heraeus has enabled a unique breakthrough in the construction industry

 

Powder Coated Timber

It is often said that brilliant ideas are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Jeff Stewart, co-founder of Climate Coating Ltd, found his 1% whilst watching a large wooden wall being painted single handed by a weary decorator. If it were a steel section wall, Jeff would have powder coated it, so why not try powder coating timber to see if it worked? Then the 99% perspiration kicked in and Jeff joined up with Kyle True from the timber industry, and the rest, together with ground breaking technology from Heraeus (formerly Vulcan Catalytic Systems) is history. One of the primary problems with powder coating a timber substrate is its heat sensitivity. The time required to cure powder in a conventional hot air oven (20 – 30 minutes) would cause significant damage to the timber. The creative solution was to use Gas Catalytic IR. The IR waves are easily absorbed by the powder which will now cure (7 – 10 minutes), without overheating the substrate. The result is a patented process that is having a big impact in the construction industry.

As the world population continues to increase, the need for sustainable, low waste, energy efficient commercial and residential buildings has become a necessity. The founders of Climate Coating Ltd. in New Zealand have pioneered and patented innovative methods of creating powder coated surfaces on plywood, MDF and plasterboard. The majority of these products can be fitted without any further finishing requirements and are available pre-cut to size and in many colours. They include:

  • Pre coated plasterboard for walls and ceilings
  • Decorative MDF board for commercial fit-out
  • Moisture resistant exterior grade plywood
  • Pre primed exterior finishes that do not need to be finished for up to 3 months

So how do Climate Coating Ltd.’s products contribute to the drive for sustainability? The answer is multi layered and is evidenced not just by the product itself and its place in the market, but also by the innovative, energy efficient method of manufacture.

Product Advantages

The advantages of pre-finished products themselves are self-evident. By creating pre-finished and pre-sized materials that are commonly found in every type of construction, the reduced need for wet trades (brick laying, plastering and painting) has a significant impact on building lead time. Delays due to weather, material supply and waste are all but eliminated. Consider the number of half used tins of paint and wasted bags of plaster that are commonly seen on building sites! The products are also ideal for the pre-fabricated building industry.

Manufacturing Advantages

Dig down deeper, and further very significant advantages can be discovered. As Climate Coating Ltd pre-finish the board materials in a purpose built factory, the efficiencies of having a precisely controlled process means that waste is virtually eliminated and a consistent level of quality control is achieved which far surpasses that which can be accomplished “on site”.

One of the vital elements of the production system is the use of Gas Catalytic IR ovens to efficiently cure the applied powder on the chosen substrate. The system, designed in conjunction with world leaders Heraeus (formerly Vulcan Catalytic Systems) has proven to be a wise choice. The systems produced by Heraeus have proven to be the most controllable, energy efficient powder coat curing solutions available today.

The powder curing system details are as follows:

  • Two coat system
  • 2 PLC controlled Gas Catalytic ovens (2 section preheat and 5 section main cure)
  • 300m2 per hour output
  • Space saving design has small footprint
  • Programmable to control the heat output horizontally and vertically through the oven
  • Perfect cure obtained by using only the exact amount of required Infra-Red.

What Climate Coating Ltd say about Heraeus:

“Having the world leading industrial IR process heating guys on board from the outset was an inspired choice on our part. Their in-depth knowledge and experience was key in enabling the Climate Coating Ltd concept to become a reality”

Kyle True (MD Climate Coating Ltd [climatesurfaces.com])

Key Product Points

  • Sustainable, no VOC’s produced in manufacture
  • Extremely high level of quality control that is unachievable “on site”
  • On site wet trades eliminated
  • Ideal for pre-fabricated buildings

Key Gas Catalytic IR powder curing points

  • Measurable and consistent process
  • Highly controllable (PLC) and adaptable
  • High quality finish
  • Energy efficient process
  • Small footprint

Powder Coating Oven Makes Light Work

Gas Catalytic IR Powder Coating Oven

Custom Light Fixture Manufacturer Chooses Gas Catalytic IR

Lumetta, based in Warwick RI, manufactures custom designed light fittings for the hotel and restaurant industry. Previously, the powder coating of the steel and aluminum products was out-sourced. Although quality was good, damage in transportation and a weeks processing time meant that a different approach would be required if end user lead time was to be reduced. Lumetta decided it was time to get their own Powder Coating Oven. The two oven solution suggested by Heraeus required a Gas Catalytic IR dry off (after washing) and a Gas Catalytic IR final cure
oven (after powder application) together with an overhead conveyor to allow continuous flow. The complete system takes up less than 3,000 sq ft and requires only two operators. Lumetta can now fabricate, powder coat and ship on the same day, if required. Faster inventory turns, lower costs and very happy customers are just a few of the advantages of adopting Gas Catalytic IR technology from Heraeus.

“The flexibility that the new Gas Catalytic Ovens has provided us with means that we can now de-gas our die castings as well as powder coat our main volume product. The move to continuous flow from batch
production has resulted in shorter lead times and reduced operating costs. The ability to react quickly to customer’s needs is transforming our business. Our costs have been significantly reduced whilst producing a high quality product. Everybody is a winner including the most important person, the customer!”

Bill Pritchett (Owner of Lumetta)

Gas Catalytic IR Powder Coating Oven Reduces Costs

Powder Coating Oven For Saw Blades

Cutting Edge Company Doubles Business

Die Cast Connections of Chicopee MA, custom coats hundreds of thousands of hacksaw and reciprocating saw blades every week by using a powder coating oven. With business forecast to double, a move from a hand spray, batch oven type of production to a continuous, conveyor layout was required. Even though the coating on a cutting blade will wear off with use, the need for a good quality powder coated finish is essential to enable:

  • Screen printing of brand logo
  • Product presentation within retail packaging
  • Damage free transportation

“A 30 ft Gas Catalytic IR Oven from Heraeus proved to be the answer. The system is capable of curing yellow, black, green, white and silver powders within a 4 minute cure cycle. An added requirement is the need to pass die cast products through the same oven to eliminate out gassing. A task which the new Gas Catalytic IR oven handles with ease.”

Beth Zastawny (Owner of Die Cast Connections)

Gas Catalytic IR from Heraeus – New Video

Gas Catalytic IR from Heraeus New Explanatory Video

Gas Catalytic IR emitters convert natural or propane gas into medium – long wavelength Infrared by means of a special platinum catalyst. The only other byproducts are Water, in the form of vapour and Carbon Dioxide. There are no noxious gases such as Nitrogen Dioxide or Carbon Monoxide. This flameless catalytic reaction produces a surface temperatures of 175 ° C to 480 ° C . The radiation intensity is continuously controllable by the use of PLC’s  within a range of 20%-100% of the rated output.

This video explains how gas catalytic IR heaters from Heraeus work. If you would like more details, please contact us.

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