In order to stay competitive, coil coaters are continuously working to implement leaner operations with the goal of optimizing the throughput in their coating systems. These objectives would seem to be in direct contrast to the marketplace, which is demanding more frequent deliveries of smaller and smaller batches – often of custom colors – which all suggest less efficient operations.
Enter SCS’ innovative coating technology, the Profile Correction Module (PCM).
In our recent blog, "Increase Run Time: Add the PCM to Coil Coating Fluid Process," we noted that the PCM reduces downtime by:
- Shortening the cleaning cycle
- Reducing setup times
- Reducing trials
- Reducing rework/recoating
And since reducing downtime is the first step to increasing throughput, especially in short-run operations, let’s examine these from that perspective.
Shortening the Cleaning Cycle
Obviously, reducing the time it takes to clean between colors increases the available run time. This is key to increasing throughput. The PCM shortens the cleaning cycle by reducing the paint volume in the pan. This is accomplished by converting the pan from being a paint supply reservoir into a catch-basin.
This simple, yet significant change, allows the volume of paint in the pan to go from a “fill” to a “film”. This shortens the color change cycle by reducing drain and fill times. In addition, the pan can be redesigned to make it easier and quicker to clean, further reducing the cleaning cycle.
Reducing Setup Times
In order to reduce setup times, especially in a small batch, repetitive manufacturing operation, it is essential that recipes are easy to replicate batch-to-batch with a high degree of confidence in the outcome. The PCM achieves this objective by supplying the paint to the pickup roll through a carefully controlled metering gap.
Because this is a mechanical gap and held consistent relative to the pickup roll, it is highly repeatable – which makes it easier and faster to implement the desired setup. Faster setups mean more time to coat, and that means higher throughput.
Trials consume a great deal of line time – often 20 minutes or more each.
If you can reliably and repeatedly setup the coater to produce the same results time after time, trials are no longer necessary – at least on repetitive jobs. We know that the defined setup, or recipe, will produce the desired results batch after batch, so there is no need to test.
Given this scenario, trials are only necessary for new, unproven jobs – like those custom colors that are becoming so popular. And fewer trials means more time coating, which always represents an increase in throughput.
Another great side-effect of repeatable setups is the fact that quality is assured right from the start of the run. This is accomplished by the center nip-feed to the metering gap, which reduces edge-to-edge film variation and also pre-shears the coating before it is passed to the applicator nip.
This takes advantage of the non-Newtonian (thixotropic) properties of virtually all coatings, making the applied paint viscosity more repeatable than a traditional pan-feed system.
Don’t Skip the PM’s
There is always that tendency to put off that next scheduled maintenance “…just for this one important order…” but this is a slippery slope. If you are attempting to optimize your uptime and throughput, the last thing you want to do is to skimp on your PM’s. As we noted in the blog post cited above, “…scheduled PM time…is necessary to prevent a catastrophic breakdown in the middle of a run.”
These are complex mechanical systems and a well thought-out and executed preventative maintenance is essential to assure that the line always runs when it is supposed to. Besides, why run risks hoping that disaster won’t strike? There is more available run-time to be gained through the process improvements cited above – without any detriment to your schedules, production, PM, and otherwise – than could ever be gained by short-cutting your maintenance schedule.
Watch our free PCM Webinar to learn about how this innovtive technology can help your business.