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This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

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4 Benefits of an Automated Powder Coating System

Perhaps you’re considering purchasing an automated powder coating system but need more convincing first. That’s understandable, especially since these products can be pricey and require some dedication to set up to your liking. However—learning about some of the most compelling benefits of automating your powder coating process could convince you it’s time to buy.

1. Enhanced Productivity

Many manufacturers and other professionals who rely on powder coating find themselves in positions where their current output levels are insufficient to address the needs of existing customers and pursue growth.

Bringing automation to powder coating can provide the necessary productivity boost because it increases the finish's efficiency and uniformity. Even the most conscientious humans often get tired or distracted, resulting in minor but noticeable finish issues. However—once people program an automated powder coating booth the system works with limited or no oversight.

In other instances, decision-makers will choose to automate certain parts of their process, seeking specific benefits. One company installed an automatic unloader to complement its vertical powder coating line. Such additions keep production running smoothly by securely transferring parts of all sizes and shapes, ensuring they don’t fail. Another benefit was increased productivity due to the ability to handle more items on the production line within the same amount of space.

Updates like these keep workers safe during their shifts because automation reduces the need for manual handling. People who feel their well-being is a priority at work are likely to give their best and enjoy clocking in each day.

2. Increased Speed

Many people buy automated powder coating systems to finish jobs faster without sacrificing quality. The automation aspect of this equipment enables efficient, even coverage on parts of various sizes.

One company has an incredibly robust powder-coating operation that handles more than 100,000 metal parts per day. Automation and a strategically built racking system were key components in helping the company rise to the challenges of coping with that demand.

A racking system can help parts move smoothly and consistently through powder-coating lines, boosting overall output. However, people must optimize the positioning so components are at the right heights and remain secure during movement around the factory.

Technicians must also adjust the automated spray guns to achieve the best coverage for parts with challenging shapes. For example, components with tight angles and the insides of long flanges can be tricky.

This company’s process typically involves handling powder-coated parts in blocks of 500 to 1,000 at a time. Its setup also allows working with up to four colors simultaneously, and the system has quick-changeover capabilities for increased speed. That has allowed the business to go from six manual sprayers to two. It’s also helpful that powder coating cures faster than liquid processes, accelerating time frames even more.

This is a great example of how an automated powder coating system does not necessarily mean giving humans other tasks. People can still play valuable roles in ensuring this step is done. Automation will likely change how it happens.

3. Improved Sustainability

Company leaders are increasingly exploring ways to make their operations more sustainable. They know it’s essential for maintaining competitiveness over the long term. Fortunately, powder coating is already an eco-friendly process. It produces less waste than other methods and does not contain harsh chemicals or solvents.

Adding automation to the process can be even better for the planet. One company opened a powder coating plant that uses 80% less water than a previous location. Its powder coatings also include eco-friendly chemicals, and workers recycle excess materials. Moreover, this plant has energy-saving furnaces.

The ultramodern production approach also allows for numerous digital and automated processes that further conserve resources. Most of the plant’s items consist of metal frames of various sizes. Clients can also request custom colors to meet their needs or preferences.

Additionally, representatives said they might make the plant available for contract manufacturing agreements and have already had relevant discussions with several partners. If that happens, the setup could cause a ripple effect that helps other companies reach sustainability goals.

4. Faster System Training Times

The steps for getting started with an automated powder system largely depend on the complexity and brand of your setup, as well as its size and capabilities. However, some people from companies specializing in such technologies realize many potential purchasers do not want to go through a time-consuming process to train the system. Fortunately, that’s not a requirement for all automated options.

Leaders at one metal fabrication company were interested in automation but needed to explore the options first. Since the company started in 1976, its executives have had to make various changes to remain relevant in a competitive marketplace. The business faced various production bottlenecks while trying to fill the needs of original equipment manufacturers in several industries.

Decision-makers knew the conventional programming of finishing robots proved too time-consuming  for the company’s workers. It took them a few days to create a new program offline, then at least a week to tweak it in the production environment.

As they looked for a better way, company leaders discovered an Italian robotics company specializing in self-learning robots. These machines could detect intricate gestures without relying on teach pendants or offline programming. Each robot learns in a free-floating mode, recording all the minute details necessary for excellent results. The team was so impressed with the results that they initially ordered two robots but ended up getting six.

Besides the short training times, the robots also tackled the excessive moisture often problematic in powder coating operations. The machines have built-in features that allow them to suction or blow off standing water, which helps maintain proper coating adhesion. That’s a vital step in quality control that should help clients feel more satisfied with the overall results. That makes them more likely to return and recommend that business to friends.

Will You Use an Automated Powder Coating System?

These are some of the many perks industry leaders experience when purchasing automated powder coating systems. Taking that step typically involves making significant time and money-related investments. However, as these case studies show, pursuing automation puts companies in excellent positions to prove they can meet clients’ current and future needs.

Emily Newton
Emily Newton
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine celebrating advances in science and technology.

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