Manual or automatic system? That is the question… or almost.
For many companies in recent years, the choice between one or the other painting system has been by no means simple. On the one hand, there is the maximum flexibility of a manual system that can adapt to parts of any shape and size, evolve according to the company’s needs and keep energy costs down. On the other hand, there is the maximum productivity of an automatic in-line system that allows the company to expand, reduce processing times and save on personnel costs.
Two seemingly distant worlds, but what if they could be brought together by exploiting the best of each? That’s how Eurotherm came up with the design of a Cartesian manual powder coating system integrated with an automatic parts transfer system with advanced operating logic.
Eurotherm’s manual plant with automatic logic for Balfor srl
Balfor srl is an international company that designs and manufactures several high quality, high performance woodcutting and sawing lines.
The need was to replace the old and obsolete liquid coating system at the Manta (CN) facility with a new powder coating system. In fact, the company’s constant study and research had highlighted the need to powder-coat their products so they could bring to the market woodcutters and saws that would guarantee the longevity and robustness of every smallest component.
Among the various requests, the new system had to be able to double the production rate compared to the old system, while maintaining the same management flexibility and respecting the need for energy savings typical of a manual system.
By mutual agreement, we thus devised a solution that combined the flexibility of a Cartesian manual system with the productivity of an automatic line.
How does the system work? A perfect mix of automatic and manual processing
The logics’ management is very variable, depending on production requirements and the type of product to be coated. Optimisation of the processing steps, however, already starts in the last stages of production: the various parts to be painted are placed on a special conveyor system (called ‘under gondola’) progressively as they are produced.
In the loading area of the painting system, the under gondola with the parts already hanging is placed under the transfer gondola, thus reducing the loading of parts to a few minutes per gondola.
During the loading phase, the treatment cycle to be carried out and the type of colour is assigned to each gondola, and from here on the logic takes over, which automatically manages the complete production sequence.
The system is also optimised to perform the work-pieces’ surface preparation in complete autonomy at nightime. This means the logic washes and dries in sequence all the parts hanging on the gondola, so that, the next morning, the operators can find the parts positioned in the gondola warehouse ready to be painted and cured in sequence by colour.
The only operations to be carried out by the personnel are therefore:
- loading/unloading of the parts
- the powder coating phase in manual mode.
Afterwards, the pieces are taken to the assembly department for final assembly and testing by the woodcutters.
The 4.0 painting system communicates the work progress in real time to the Balfor srl management software and, thanks to the integration with the other production departments, allows the production chain of each individual machine to be followed.
The advantages of an integrated manual powder coating system with automatic logic
A manual powder coating system integrated with the logic of an automatic system combines the best of both worlds, allowing high flexibility for a high production rate.
Other advantages are:
- Reduced volumes, as the machines are manufactured with the same characteristics as manual systems. They are inserted compactly into the line and the sliding doors save additional space within the company.
- High energy savings, as the drying and baking ovens in the air stream are equipped with heat insulation doors and are switched on when required. In addition, the hot degreasing of the washing cell is heated by solar panels with heat exchanger.
- High production flexibility, as parts of different sizes can be painted at the same time, and each gondola can be painted in a different colour from the previous one.
- High production rate, as the automatic parts transport system and advanced logic allow the entire production chain to be programmed, as well as a high workload to be managed with reduced personnel.
- Advanced customisation, as the production cycle can be customised from hand to hand, depending on production requirements. In addition, all machinery is customised to accommodate all products in the Balfor srl catalogue.
- 1 Lifting station for loading/unloading
- 1 5-stage washing cell (osmosis passivation + passivation on exit)
- 1 Drying oven
- 2 Manual powder painting booths
- 2 Curing ovens
- 1 Double automatic transfer unit
- 1 Overhead conveyor