Air knife solution eliminates dust contamination in powder coating process

The client

Abcor Industries is the largest wood powder coating operation in the western hemisphere. Its solution eliminates the need for edge bands, backers, adhesives and solvents, enabling different ergonomic shapes to be sealed more effectively than laminate or edge banded parts.

Putting people and the planet first, Abcor has a reputation for hiring veterans, people on probation and parole, as well as those working a part-time retirement job. Committed to sustainability, its powder coating process has a carbon footprint almost four times lower than that of high-pressure laminate. It is over four times less than that of solvent-based paint. Combined, this makes its wood sealing and coating solution a world-beater.

Providing powder coating to many of the world’s premier contract office furniture companies, Abcor Industries coats everything from desks and conference tables to shelves, filing cabinets, and waiting room furniture. Abcor also manufactures furniture for the fast-food industry, retailers, point of sale displays, work truck accessories, school desks, healthcare furniture, and many more.

The challenge

Committed to its solvent-free powder coating process, Abcor Industries requires a contamination-free surface, which is vital when electrostatically coating wood.

Its challenge is that static charge generated during the raw material’s preparation – be that through CNC, sawing or sanding – causes ambient dust to stick to the surface of wood parts. Leading to imperfections in the powder coating process, the presence of dust results in product rejection during the quality assessment, necessitating expensive reprocessing. Abcor Industries needed a fault-free solution to address this issue that could flawlessly clean down and deionise wood parts before powder coating.

Early solution

To overcome dust contamination, Abcor utilised a deionising air wand to clean individual parts before coating. This required staff to physically deionise each item individually. A manual and laborious process, inconsistencies were common, resulting in the need to rework parts where dust contamination was missed, costing the business tens of thousands of dollars each year.

The solution

Having proved that deionising worked in eliminating static, Abcor Industries approached ACI to provide a total, fault-proof solution to cleaning down and deionising surfaces due to be powder coated. The result was the development and implementation of an integrated air knife system that cleans down and takes the static charge out of parts to be powder coated. Opposing 157.5 centimetres long air knives, each mounted with static elimination bars, the ACI system integrates seamlessly into Abcor’s production line. Fed by an ACI EP10A blower unit with a 20HP motor, the air knives are suspended on a frame so that products ranging from 5-33 centimetres wide and up to 152.5 centimetres tall can pass through with ease, running at a production line rate of 305cm per minute.

The Outcome

ACI’s air knife solution has eliminated dust contamination in Abcor Industries’ powder coating process. Increasing efficiency and production scheduling, the ACI air knife system has led to an increase in capacity, while also freeing up staff that had been responsible for manual deionising. These staffs are now able to work on the company’s sanding and paint line.

Putting an end to part rejection due to dust contamination – which accounted for 10-15% of all items in production – the installation of ACI’s automated air knife system is projected to save Abcor in excess of one hundred thousand dollars in its first year, and that comes after accounting for the purchase and installation costs of the air knife equipment.

KEY BENEFITS

  • 100% of parts to be powder coated are cleaned and deionised 100% of the time
  • Parts reworking due to contamination has been eradicated
  • Automation of the process has enabled two full-time employees to be repurposed
  • Installation costs covered in the first three months
  • Annual savings over $100,000
ACI Air Knife solution
ACI Air Knife solution

“Using ACI’s air knife technology, we’ve put an end to the costly headache of product rejection,” says Jonathan Meyer, Assistant Production Manager at Abcor Industries.

“It’s been an absolute game-changer for us, generating increased efficiencies. We now have a 100% throughput and a 100% first-run yield. That’s enabled us to up our production scheduling while freeing up two of our existing staff members to work on other production lines within the business.

“Looking back, what appeared to be an expensive solution to a perennial problem, has turned out to be one of the best investments that we’ve ever made, covering its own cost in less than three months, and saving us upwards of $50,000 in the first six months alone.”

Visit Abcor Industries website