Production time is a pain point we encounter with OEM operations as diverse as the market itself. How can we produce equipment quicker, so we can pack it, ship it and sell it more quickly? So the thinking goes. But not all OEMs have a good understanding of how much impact the right coatings experts can have on all this.
Often, inertia rules in the coatings buying process. Companies know what they’ve done in the past and continue to do it in the present. They rarely stop to consider how coatings advisors could be addressing inefficiencies in other portions of the business. Coating costs and production speeds are seen as a world apart.
But coatings can play a part in slashing production times, and it all starts with quicker cure times. Waiting around for coatings to cure feels like wasted time. Forced curing coatings in ovens is a frequently used strategy for OEMs. But we still do encounter customers using air-dry, solvent-based Alkyds in their production process. Due to their low sticker price, OEMs assume they’re doing the right thing for their bottom line. They may be, but when costs are carefully considered and the numbers are run, the output that’s sacrificed by applying a product that requires the slow absorption of oxygen to dry sometimes ends up costing an operation more.
Finding a better way
An alternative strategy would be paying a little more for a coating where the drying process can be catalyzed. Over the long run, small increases in efficiency from reduced drying times will easily trump a higher cost-per-unit coating.
There are many such solutions that can be recommended to decrease production time. Many of them will be unique to each OEM’s operations and can only be spotted by a careful inspection of facilities and operations. In some cases, for instance, the type of steel used in production can reduce prep time and speed up overall production. If the difference in price between hot and cold-rolled steel is less than can be gained from less prep time, then it may be a smart decision to spend more for the cold-rolled steel. Anti-weld spatter coatings can shave off time that would otherwise be spent grinding the steel substrate smooth before a coating is applied. Sometimes, a different coating that requires a commercial blast instead of a near-white blast, with otherwise similar properties, can be substituted to decrease substrate prep time.
These are examples where a coatings expert may be able to recommend process efficiencies to OEMs that have relatively little to do with the coatings products themselves. But there are certain efficiencies to be gained by finding the optimal coating. You just need the right industrial coatings consultant to point you in the right direction. Assessing the right coating for the job needs to be one of the core industrial coating services offered by any given coatings consultant. More than a personal touch, that attention to detail can reduce production time and add real value to OEM companies.
Mike Reed is the General Manager at US Coatings, a provider of industrial coatings and linings.