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Industrial Gas Catalytic Infrared Systems

Lean Manufacturing & Powder Coating

Lean Manufacturing Powder Coating Ovens
https://catalyticovens.com/heraeus-assists-metsa-improve-output-quality-reduce-operating-costs

Lean Powder Coating - Focus on Curing Technology

Lean 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.

Lean Waste

Definition

Transport​​​​

Moving products unnecessarily

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

Over Production

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 - Conventional and Batch Powder Coating

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

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


Energy - The Big Waste in Conventional Convection Ovens

When the 8 wastes identified above are applied to conventional gas fired convection curing ovens, the main problem is always going to be 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

The Gas Catalytic IR 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 controllability, 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 IR 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 from Heraeus will  address 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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