The new installed paint line in Davenport will help HARDI North America be more flexible to customer requirements, improving lead times with all suppliers. Additionally, painting right before requirement by production, will reduce the need for paint repair that is currently needed on many parts due to shipping and handling damage.
At the end of June 2011, HARDI North America signed purchase orders to add 15,000 square feet of building, in order that a powder coating paint line could be installed. The second week of July, 2011 drawings were finalized and on July 25th the ground was broken for the building expansion. In late October, parts for the paint line began to arrive, and installation of the system started. On January 23rd, painting operations were begun.
Currently, all domestically fabricated components are painted in this new state of the art facility. By the end of March 2012, major components for NAVIGATOR trailers will begin to arrive from the Danish Norre Alslev main plant without paint, and these will be added to the paint line processes. Additional components will be changed over and by September 2012, we expect to be in full production with all parts coming in without paint.
Efficient material flow
The line is 50 feet wide by 200 feet long, set up in an oval. It starts with the load/unload station, where 24 foot long load bars are lowered onto a cart. Load bars are pulled to the side to complete unloading of painted parts and reloading with raw parts. Once a new load bar is raised back into the line, it is processed through the automatic shot blasting cabinet. Here the parts move through a 10 foot long cabinet with 8 wheels spinning at high speed throwing very small steel shot at the parts. Once through the cabinet, they station into a fully enclosed blow off/touch up cabinet. Here excess shot is removed from the parts and prepared for the wash. The load bar is then released into the single cabinet, 5-stage washer. We have an alkaline wash, clean water rinse, RO (reverse osmosis) pure water rinse, Oxsilan pretreatment and final RO rinse. With spray and drain times, it takes about 21 minutes to fully prepare a load bar to continue.
Management of the process in the oven is important for securing high quality
From there, the load bar enters a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes of dry off. We then have 1 cooling station and 1 masking station. At this point, the parts have moved over and are now going back the opposite direction, rounding the oval. Load bar then enters the environmental room and powder booth. Even though we have large openings in the environmental room the positive air pressure created by two air make up units, keeps the temperature and humidity at a constant level inside. This assists good powder flow to the guns and prevents clumping. Inside the powder room, we have a negative pressure created by the two reclaim units. This keeps all the paint inside the room, for ease of reclaim and clean up. Once painting is completed, parts are released into the IR (infra-red) gel zone. This heats the surface of the paint, so it will begin binding to itself, prior to entry in the high air flow convection oven. Parts then stay in the oven for about 1 hour to finish curing the paint. Once out of the oven, they cool in two stages prior to the load/unload station. It takes approximately 4 hours for a load bar to go from load back around to unload.
As mentioned, full production will be up going by September 2012. All in all - focus at quality standard is one of the core values in HARDI, and the paint component is an important value for satisfying customer demands.