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.

Pre-Gel-Oven

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!

Lean MDF Powder Coating – Case Study

Lean MDF Powder Coating Oven

Happy Customers!

If there are still sceptics out there about Lean Manufacturing, the please read this Lean MDF Powder Coating Case Study!
Some time ago we were contacted by Bells Powder Coating in Massachusetts. They had just gone through a Lean Manufacturing Program, and the savings allowed them to invest and expand. They chose to move into powder coating MDF, and bought a specialist Gas Catalytic Infrared oven from Vulcan Catalytic Systems (now Heraeus Vulcan). Here are a few of the Before and After comment from Bells Powder Coating:

Before:

  • “Half a million $ in lost revenue”
  • “Another half million $ in work going offshore”
  • “We needed to get a handle on costs right away”
  • “Competition was intense”
  • “We wanted to move into hot new markets, like powder coated medium density fiberboard (MDF)”
  • “Return on investment was too long”
  • “At about $98,000 per year, our natural gas bill was a huge expense”

After:

  • “Increased productivity by 7%”
  • “Reduced costs by $70,000”
  • “Winning business back from China”
  • “Able to take a second look at launching the MDF product line”
  • “The Vulcan Catalytic (now Heraeus Vulcan) oven alone saved us $27,000 per year”
  • “15 companies interested in our powder coated MDF, through word of mouth alone”
  • “I haven’t even begun to advertise yet!”

Lean MDF Powder Coating

The added benefits of the MDF Powder Coating oven from Heraeus Vulcan, which is perfect for use in a Lean Manufacturing environment, means the benefits are multiplied, as they can make best use of the Lean advantages that an oven from Heraeus Vulcan can offer.

Wait till we tell them about the advances in single coat technology for MDF.

But I suspect they already know!

Heraeus Vulcan Leads the way

Heraeus Vulcan are the undisputed experts in MDF powder coating, having built the two largest, high production ovens in the world. Recent full production trials in Slovakia, ran faultlessly, with 0% defects. The trial only came to a halt when part production could not keep up with the powder coating line, and they ran out of parts to powder coat!

Please contact us for further information.

 

Lean Powder Coating – Focus on Curing Technology

Lean powder coatingLean manufacturing is here to stay. It has been around for over 50 years and many companies have really started to implement Lean in a big way. Very often the results are  immediate and when implemented correctly, gains continue to be made. Long term commitment and  implementation delivers  far reaching changes that ensure future competitiveness in an ever changing, more competitive business landscape. This article focuses on how Lean Manufacturing philosophy applies when considering  powder curing technology. In particular gas catalytic infrared versus convection curing. It will be of interest to any company with powder coating ovens and is intending to or is already following the Lean path.  Other aspects such as powder application, quick color changes and powder reclamation are extremely important but  are already being addressed by the major providers in this field (Gema, Nordson, Wagner etc.).

Identifying the Lean Wastes – Continuous Flow and Batch Production

There are two main production systems for powder coating; continuous flow and batch production. The Lean wastes are generally common to both, except that there are other significant differences which require careful investigation and will be covered in a later article. This article focuses on the major differences between the leading technologies in curing, from a Lean Manufacturing perspective.

First let us consider what we are trying to achieve by reviewing the seven (eight including Energy) wastes identified by Lean.

The main aim is to reduce the following Lean Wastes within any manufacturing plant.

  • Transport (moving products unnecessarily)
  • Inventory (Work In Progress over and above what is actually needed to complete orders in hand)
  • Motion (people or equipment moving or walking more than is required)
  • Waiting (People or energy consuming processes waiting for parts or parts waiting for people or energy consuming processes)
  • Overproduction (production ahead of demand)
  • Over Processing (doing more to the product than is required)
  • Defects (the effort involved in inspecting and fixing defects or scrapping parts)
  • Energy (Unnecessary use of energy in the production process)

 Implications for Lean Powder Coating

When the 8 wastes identified above are applied to conventional gas fired convection curing ovens, the following issues become obvious:

Issue Lean Waste
  • Initial oven start up can take up to an hour
  • Waiting, Energy
  • Conventional ovens are not responsive to breaks in production and run at full load without any parts curing
  • Waiting, Energy
  • In order to reduce oven operating times, there is a tendency to produce ahead of demand
  • Over Production, Inventory
  • Conventional ovens have high airflow causing powder blow off and cross contamination
  • Defects
  • Convection ovens are inherently inefficient (5% – 7% of heat produced is used to cure powder)
  • Energy

So, it is clear that there are significant drawbacks to using conventional gas fired convection oven in a Lean Manufacturing environment. They are inefficient, unresponsive to changes in production load or requirements and tend to be either on and consuming energy or off with no intermediate control available.

The Lean Powder Coating Curing Oven Solution

Lean Powder Coating Oven

Lean Powder Coating Oven

If convection oven curing is not the correct technology for companies serious about Lean, then what is the correct technology? Infrared technology has been available for over 20 years and is available in two forms.

Electric Infrared

Electric Infrared ticks all the Lean boxes in terms of controlability, but has two major drawbacks. Firstly cost; electricity is around four times as expensive as gas and can generally be ruled out on this fact alone. Secondly, the infrared that is emitted is short wavelength, which is not as easily absorbed by organic materials such as powder.

Gas Catalytic Infrared

Gas catalytic infrared is truly the lean powder coating solution:

  • Catalytic infrared hits the “sweet spot” when it comes to absorption by organic materials
  • Catalytic infrared is controllable.
    • During production breaks the oven can be put into “Lo Fire” mode (20% of maximum output)
    • The oven can be split into individually controlled zones to suit parts
    • Each zone is infinitely variable between 20% – 100% output
  • Size. A gas catalytic infrared oven has a footprint around 50% that of a convection oven.
  • Efficiency. Gas Catalytic Infrared is around 85% efficient at converting energy into usable heat.
  • Cure time is generally one third that of a convection oven.
  • Less air movement within the oven means less powder blow off and improved finish quality

So in conclusion it is clear to see that gas catalytic infrared technology addresses all the Lean Waste issues that are raised by the use of a conventional convection oven, and why those companies involved in powder coating and wish to go Lean, should give serious consideration to a Gas Catalytic Infrared solution.

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