A Complete Transformation
Flogas, established in 1984, are one of the leading Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG Gas) providers, supplying Propane and Butane to domestic and industrial users across the UK. Flogas have a large number of depots nationwide enabling them to offer high quality products at a competitive price.
Flogas are committed to undertaking regular reviews of their operations to identify improvements that can be made. At their site in Staveley, Flogas refurbish thousands of gas cylinders each week, these cylinders range in size, colour and weight.
In order to ensure continued operational excellence, Flogas took the decision to review its existing wet paint facility. Working with key suppliers Junair Spraybooths and Gema UK, Flogas identified that an upgrade to a new and improved powder coating paint line would offer significant advantages.
Simon Eldridge, Cylinder Supply Chain Manager for Flogas commented, “Our main objectives for the new powder coating paint line was to increase the productivity and also increase the quality of our paint finish. After careful consideration and review, we decided to award Junair the contact to design, manufacture and install the new paint line. This decision was made due to the fact Junair were able to project manage the whole installation including all building works and removal of the existing paint line, however more importantly our decision rested on Junair’s proven technical ability and extensive experience in this area. Junair organised a number of site visits to their existing customers which allowed us to see the equipment we were going to be purchasing in operation also it demonstrated the quality of their equipment. The design Junair provided met all of our objectives and as with any facility improvement we worked with Junair to identify opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint and provide an enhanced working environment for our operatives”.
The new powder coating paint line combines a number of processes. Once the gas cylinders have had the valves removed and undergone an internal inspection, they pass through an automated shot blasting process which removes any existing paint or debris, then the cylinders have a hot metal zinc spray automatically applied. The cylinders pass through a de-gassing oven, fueled by LPG of course. This oven heats the cylinders to over 200°C to expel any air entrained during the zinc spray process. Removing the air means that once the cylinders are painted they will be free from surface defects and provide a more robust and reliable paint finish. The cylinders are then cooled to the optimum, consistent temperature for painting.
The cylinders then pass through a powder coating spray booth where powder paint is applied using automatic electrostatic spray guns. As the bottles enter the booth a light beam sensor detects the size of the bottle allowing the reciprocators to automatically change the stroke length, and to automatically adjust the position of the fixed top and bottom spray guns to ensure full coverage. The system can detect when there are no cylinders on the line, and this is then communicated to the spray guns so no paint is applied which reduces wastage. The spraybooth features a plastic construction to allow maximum transfer efficiency, and has a large mono cyclone for powder recover and recycling. Complete colour change takes around 5 minutes, and overall paint usage efficiency is in excess of 95%.
The final process is curing the coating on the cylinders. This process uses an Infrared oven which is also powered by LPG and is controlled by an advanced touchscreen control panel. The control allows specific cure profiles for Flogas’s different cylinder sizes, allowing each cylinder to have the optimum cure with the most efficient settings. The oven has 12 separate heat control zones, and the control system monitors and detects any production line pauses, if the line is paused the system puts the oven into Eco mode. Once in Eco mode power is reduced to 20% to save energy and the risk of products over curing. The oven however is also responsive enough so that once the line is back up and running the oven is ready go within 30 seconds.
Due to the weight and size of the cylinders a continuously moving overhead conveyor system transports the cylinders through the complete paint process. The conveyor system incorporates adjustable speed rotation in the paint booth and ovens to optimise the paint application and curing. The system will be handling up to 4 tonnes of product every hour. Using an overhead conveyor system also maximises the facilities floor space. A powered manipulator arm assists workers to maneuver the cylinders on and off the conveyor systems.
Simon also commented “We are delighted with the results of our new paint line. We have seen an overall cost reduction achieved by reduced paint costs, a reduction in maintenance costs as the new equipment is much more reliable and also a reduction in the amount of labour required on the production line. The new powder coating spray booth gives the cylinders a much improved surface finish, and is also more reliable than the previous wet paint spraybooth. Throughout the complete installation Junair managed the whole process from start to finish. We were able to lean on their in-house expertise to ensure the project was completed to the highest standard, to specification and on time. I would have no hesitation in recommending Junair”.