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Bringing Powder In House – Batch vs Auto System

Bringing Powder In House – Batch vs Auto System

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Deciding to bring your powder coating in house is a big decision.  In most cases, it’s completely justified.  Having control of your own quality and lead times, nevertheless the money you can save on freight are simply bonuses.  Once you calculate your cost to apply powder in house versus what you’re paying, it often becomes a case not of something you “want” to do but of something that you “have” to do.  So, what happens when you get to that point?  Before you can begin the equipment quoting process, you have to determine if your needs are in Batch or in Automated powder equipment.  In order to answer that question, there are 4 things you really must consider first:

SIZE DOES MATTER

Part sizes plays a huge role in determining  whether you need a batch or an automated powder coating system.  The part size is the biggest determining factor in the actual equipment size.  How large will the oven be?  How big will the turns on an automated system have to be in order to allow the part to turn?  Larger parts are often more conducive to a large batch system than an automated system because as part size increases, so does cost.  Thus……..

I’M HAVING AN OUT OF MONEY EXPERIENCE

Let’s talk honestly for a moment.  The SINGLE biggest contributing factor to any business decision is RISK versus REWARD.  And RISK is often times the amount of financial investment required to get started.  Be honest with yourself and be honest with your equipment specialist about your budget – – ON THE FRONT END.  There’s no need to chase a million dollar answer with a $100,00 budget.  It’s a waste of time for everyone involved.  But also don’t make assumptions.  Even though I used the number “a million dollars” above, it doesn’t mean that all auto systems are that expensive.  Price ranges vary immensely.  Every powder coating system, batch or automated, should be a custom fit, designed specifically for your needs.  Remember, anyone providing you with a quote that is simply throwing out sales “points” and not asking you questions is simply a salesman.  Look for someone who asks YOU questions.  Always buy from a resource, never a salesperson.

I NEED MY SPACE

Available floor space is also a major consideration when choosing between batch and automated powder coating systems.  Automated systems, because of the constant part movement, usually take up 3 to 5 times the space that a batch system would take up.  Let’s look at it this way:  Let’s assume that we have a part that requires a 30 minute cure and the part is 10 ft long.  We could roll that part into a batch oven that is 10′ long inside, close the doors, and pull it out 30 minutes later.  If we take the same part and put in on a conveyor system that’s running 5 feet per minute, the length of conveyor required inside the oven would be 150 ft.  That means either a 150′ long oven, a 75′ long oven that has a double pass of conveyor, a 50′ long oven with a triple pass of conveyor, and so on.  And the shorter we make the oven as we add passes, the wider it gets.  Be sure to tell your equipment specialist (THEY SHOULD ASK!!) about floor space restrictions.  AND DON’T FORGET THAT CEILING HEIGHT!!

MY CUP RUNNETH OVER

The other major consideration when evaluating batch versus automated is going to be your production requirements.  Often times a batch system simply cannot provide the throughput needed for daily production.  You have to take the part size, determine how many you can put in a batch oven at a time, calculate the required cure cycle, and then see if production needs can be met.  Look at different ways to rack your parts.  Ask your powder representative about powders that begin to cure at lower temperatures which may allow you to cut down the cure cycle.  Ask your equipment specialist for different options.

 

These are only a few of the many considerations that should take place when you are looking to bring powder in house.  The biggest thing is to TALK TO AN EXPERT.  If you build widgets for a living and you’ve established yourself as a widget building expert, anyone who wants to start building widgets would be a fool not to come to you.  Sure, they could go online and find someone who probably builds widgets in his garage and calls himself a “Widget KING” because he sells sandwich bags of widgets on EBAY, but the truth is that his expertise and quality probably nowhere approaches what you could offer.  I tell my seminar attendees often, ” Be careful who you follow because they can either lead you on the Stairway to Heaven or the Highway to Hell”.

Keep in mind also that there are THOUSANDS of ways to skin a cat (sorry PETA).  There are semi-automated systems.  Combination batch and auto systems.  Things you’ve probably never considered combined with tons of misinformation online can create a confusing situation.  Slow it down, take a breath, and find someone that can provide you with real solutions to your needs.

Joey

JOEY GOLLIVER IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE TOP POWDER COATING AND BUSINESS TRAINERS IN THE WORLD.  OVER THE PAST 25 YEARS, HE HAS TRAINED THOUSANDS ON OPENING POWDER COATING VENTURES AS WELL AS BRINGING THEIR POWDER COATING IN HOUSE.  HE CAN BE REACHED AT JOEY@POWDERX.COM OR YOU CAN VISIT HIS COMPANY WEBSITE AT WWW.POWDERX.COM

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