Case 1: Custom Coater Needs Easy Proportioning

A large southern Minnesota custom coater was under pressure from one of their larger clients to consistently deliver finished products within 24 hours. The job required the use of a polyurethane coating with a pot life under 1 hour so proportioning equipment was critical to their success. Maintenance problems with their aging proportioner were increasing as more demand was placed on the equipment by their growing business.

Midway’s Sales Engineer, Brian Kretsch met with the custom coater and listened to their concerns and requirements. They needed a more reliable and robust proportioner that would be used primarily with one color. They also required assurance they were always on ratio and equipment simple enough so two shifts could operate without problems.

Brian recommended one of Graco’s new, simplified ProMix Units and offered a demonstration. He used Midway’s demonstration unit to show the customer Graco’s advanced and simplified electronic proportioner, the ProMix Easy unit. The customer ordered a unit after the demonstration.

The customer has been well served by the Pro Mix Easy. He has seen virtually no downtime; a significant improvement over the old proportioner. The unit is simpler to use overall compared to the old equipment and assures the customer his resin/catalyst mix ratio is always within specifications.

Brian has followed-up the sale and initial start-up training with extensive re-training of both shifts using Graco’s excellent training CD. The custom coater’s President commented: “Brian has just completed a training course for our painters and it was very useful and informative. Even though we have had start-up training, this information brought new insight and understanding of our equipment and it will help us prevent problems in the future”

The customer’s President further stated: “The entire process has been very professional. From the cooperation of Rich (Midway’s Service Manager) in letting us use one of his pressure pots, Mark (Midway’s Sr. Project Manager) helping with the installation and start-up and Brian always helping us at every step. I am grateful to Midway and their people for the parts they all played. I would be very pleased to have you use me as a sales reference.”

The customer was so impressed with the new Graco proportioner and Midway’s service, that he has since purchased a second ProMix Easy for another primary color.

Case 2: Big Savings with Epoxy Using Graco’s ProMix II

Two years ago a Midwest machine manufacturer began a gradual change to plural component paints. The transition to epoxy from single component paint was driven by their customers’ demands for a more durable finish. As volume usage grew, costs continued to climb. They had been hand mixing (hot-potting) the epoxy and with 8 colors to choose from the painter was spending an average of 50% of his time mixing paint and cleaning equipment. The customer was filling a 55-gallon drum every two weeks with solvent and wasted paint, and an additional painter would be needed on the night shift to keep up with production requirements.

Midway’s Sales Engineer Terry Elhardt and the engineering group considered several options and recommended what they felt was the most cost effective solution: two Graco ProMix IIs. They also recommended a gun flush box for each unit to conserve time and reduce solvent usage.

After examining ROI information, the customer purchased the recommended proportioners along with circulating pumps, tubing, hose, regulators and filters. Midway installed all of the equipment, including tubing for added colors, and provided signage to clearly mark each tubing drop with the type of material; resin or catalyst.

The new coating process improvement paid for itself in 11 months. The customer has experienced significantly reduced solvent and paint usage, eliminating the wasted overage that resulted from hand mixing and constant clean up. Another night shift painter was not needed because the day shift painter was able to increase his through-put by over 50% with no time wasted mixing paint and manually cleaning equipment.

The customer has noticed a more consistent viscosity and finish because paint is mixed on demand and is always fresh. When hand mixed, the viscosity would vary depending on the duration of the mix time.

The Director of Manufacturing stated he was “very pleased” with the equipment and the savings he experienced. “This project was the least of my worries” said the customer. “It went very smooth and I am pleased with Midway’s excellent support. The installation, training and overall support were very good.”

Extraordinary service saves the day! (a letter from Larry Van)

I want to express to you my most sincere appreciation for the remarkable service recently provided by Mike Spartz and Dave Lapinski. Our manufacturing operation for UV curable coatings has certain products dedicated to a specific pump for fluid transfer and filtration. It was late in the day, or should I say early in the evening, when the pump failed. The timing could not have been worse! It was critical that we supported the coating needs of one of our customers and we desperately needed to replace the pump to complete the manufacturing process for their product. MIDWAY CAME THROUGH FOR US!!

I contacted directory assistance for Mike Spartz’s home phone number. Mike answered and set the wheels in motion. Learning that a replacement pump was available, Mike and Dave Lapinski went to the office late at night to pick the pump up and deliver it to our sales rep, Mike Muehl. Mike Muehl and I actually linked up at Hinckley , MN the following morning at 7:00 – 7:30 am . The pump was in action by 9:00 am , permitting us to deliver product to our customers’ courier at 10:00 am as we had prearranged.

I can’t begin to express how thankful I am to be extended such service. I can honestly say that I have never experienced this level of dedication. You have two very valuable and remarkable individuals that you can be proud of and a customer in Van Technologies that could not possibly be more appreciative.

Thank you, your team and especially Mike Spartz and Dave Lapinski (I hope that I have correctly spelled Dave’s name and my apologies if I have not).

Most Appreciatively,
Van Technologies Inc.

Lawrence (Larry) C. Van Iseghem
5791 Bergquist Road
Duluth , Minnesota 55804
PH: 218-525-9424
Fax: 218-525-5594

Case 3: Automation Doubles Production, Improves Quality

A Midwest manufacturer of specialty products presented Midway’s Sales Engineer John Lund with an interesting challenge. Their finishing process had become a bottleneck for production and they had made the decision to invest in automation. Key goals were to substantially increase finishing capacity and gain better control over mil build while reducing labor costs and lifting requirements.

A significant challenge to Midway’s engineering group involved the system layout. The customer’s existing finishing operation required two people: one person loaded and unloaded and another person manually sprayed. They wanted a system layout that would reduce the labor requirement to one person. A key factor besides the labor savings was a need to reduce the lifting requirements to allow increased capacity without additional lifting. Finally, the system needed to fit into a relatively compact area within the plant.

Midway’s engineering group and John Lund met several times with the customer to discuss key parameters and requirements. In the give-and-take sessions, an efficient “U” shape conveyorized layout was designed which made it possible to have one person load, unload and perform necessary system adjustments and periodic maintenance. The final configuration included an in-line downdraft spray booth, an in-line oven, a special flat-line conveyor and a reciprocator inside the booth that moved one HVLP spray gun across the moving products.

The results are outstanding. The system fit into the available space and performed to the customer’s requirements. One eight-hour shift with two people has been reduced to one person operating the automatic system four to five hours per day. Production through the spray area has doubled with excess capacity still available for future expansion, while lifting requirements have been reduced as needed. Mil build is more consistent resulting in improved quality and cost control.

The company’s President and the Operations Manager have both expressed satisfaction with the new automated system.

“There were no surprises,” said the President. “The startup was flawless and every thing went the way Midway said it would. We are very pleased with Midway’s work and the way the system has performed.”

The new automated system is a critical step in this company’s important quest to remain competitive against all competition, foreign and domestic.

Case 4: Automatic Dispense Saves Time, Reduces Maintenance & Production Costs

A Midwest equipment manufacturer needed to improve their engine fill process. They were using an off-the-shelf pre-set dispense valve which operators triggered and held until the dispense was complete. They needed a simpler, more accurate method to dispense oil and anti-freeze into engine cavities.

Because the hand held valves would wear (especially the anti-freeze dispenser), engine cavities were often under-filled or over-filled. Each engine was tested and the customer’s Quality Test Center frequently needed to either vacuum out excess oil or fill to proper capacity. In addition, valves typically needed service every two to four weeks, and repair costs were high. The customer needed to reduce repair bills and costs associated with overfills.

A Midway sales engineer brought Midway’s engineering group in for discussions with customer personnel, and a custom system was recommended, consisting of two automatic dispense stations, one for oil and one for anti-freeze. In Midway’s proposal, an operator would program an exact volume into each station for the respective fluid and engine model, insert a small valve into the engine cavity, press a button and perform other work while the exact amount of fluids was metered into the engine cavities. The recipe would be recorded for future repeatability.

The customer purchased the system and has been very satisfied with the results. Midway installed two programmable batch controllers, each having nine recipes for different specific volumes of fluid. The operator first attaches the oil non-drip valve to the engine by screwing into place a metal cap with the valve inserted through the cap. Since the oil is more viscous, it is dispensed first. He or she then pushes the oil dispense button and while the oil is dispensing, the same process is repeated with the anti-freeze dispenser. Each dispenser shuts off automatically once an exact volume is dispensed.

Because of the cap attachment the anti-freeze is now pressure fed as opposed to being gravity-fed. This has resulted in more accurate and thorough fills, eliminating trapped air that formerly contributed to inaccurate fluid volumes in the engine.

By all accounts, the system is a resounding success. It is easier and safer for operators, and has been consistently accurate. Maintenance and over/under fill costs have been significantly reduced.

“The new system is ergonomically more friendly,” states the Manufacturing Engineer who purchased the system. “The operators don’t have to hold the valve. Because the operator can be doing something else during the fill operation we are consistently saving two minutes per unit. Those minutes add up. We are very pleased with the system’s performance.”

The system has been presented to other engineers within the plant resulting in more ideas for similar process improvements. Midway’s engineering group welcomes any such metering and dispensing opportunities and challenges!

Case 5: Solvent Costs Reduced by 50%

A Midway customer was exploring ways to improve their painting operation. This Minnesota equipment manufacturer had assembled a cross-functional team to work proactively to identify alternative technologies and processes to improve the environmental performance, quality, cost and productivity of spray painting. The team targeted solvent usage.

A Midway sales engineer and Midway’s engineering group met with team members to analyze the existing solvent flush process and discuss options for improvement. The company was using three older mechanical proportioners on two shifts, and each painter was flushing his gun different lengths of time. There seemed to be room for improvement!

We recommended an automatic solvent-air chop flush system that would alternate solvent with blasts of air to give the flushing process a more effective “chopping” effect inside the hose and tubing. The system could be pre-set to flush a specific amount of solvent every time one of the painters needed to flush his gun and was designed to work with all three proportioners.

The system has been a resounding success. Now when a painter needs to flush he pushes a start button and holds the gun trigger open (gun flush boxes were considered but rejected by the customer because of the added cost). An indicator in the booth shows the painter when the gun is flushing and when the flush cycle is complete.

Because of the air chop, the customer immediately reduced solvent usage by 50%. In addition, static mixers were flushing much cleaner and were lasting longer. This resulted in better blending of the resin and catalyst and the customer has seen an improvement in their finish quality. The biggest benefit, however, was a significant reduction in solvent and waste disposal costs.

The new flush process is being used by the customer as part of an environmental award application and is being promoted in other company painting operations.

The Chemical Technician involved in the project said it was a great way to abide by new emissions regulations. “And to really save solvent, this type of system is a must,” he added. By all accounts, the customer is satisfied with Midway’s work and the successful results.

Please contact your Midway Sales Engineer or our engineering group (800-279-1401) to discuss ideas for improving a fluid dispensing process or application you may have!

Case 6: Dramatic material cost reduction with cartridge fill process.

One of Midway’s Wisconsin customers found a big material savings opportunity. They were buying a large amount of silicone in cartridges and knew they could save money by buying in drums. With Midway Sales Engineer Mike Spartz, the customer investigated options.

First, the concept of a centralized ram-mounted pumping system was tested, pumping out of 55-gallon drums to two application stations. The application process needed a higher degree of flexibility than the pump, hose and gun setup could provide, so Mike brought in Midway’s engineering group. We moved to plan B; filling and refilling cartridges from the same 55-gallon drum pump system.

The customer’s silicone application process involved two operators at one workstation, both needing the flexibility and ease of use a cartridge gun offered. By altering the pumping system used in the initial test, Midway and the customer devised a method by which cartridges were refilled quickly and automatically.

The joint design effort involved significant contributions by both Midway and the customer’s process engineer. Midway provided the ram-mounted pumping equipment, a PLC, valving, regulation and hoses. The plant engineer created the fixture that allowed a cartridge to be refilled without removing it from the gun. He also added safety features and a photo eye so the gun could be placed in the fixture and automatically filled to an exact volume while the operators were using the other two guns.

The customer bought one system to prove the process would work. The customer had three air actuated hand cartridge guns for the two operators at their workstation. While two guns were in use, the third gun was placed in the fixture and its cartridge was automatically refilled while the other two guns were in use. The operators staggered their use of the third gun and always had a filled cartridge gun ready for continuous application.

The new process was a dramatic success. The system paid for itself in 5 weeks in material savings alone. Reusing the cartridges and automating the fill sequence saved even more time and money. The customer realized the best of both worlds; drum pricing combined with the flexibility and ergonomics of manual, air-operated cartridge guns.

The customer was very satisfied with Midway’s efforts to work with him to find a way to reduce material costs. “The system worked very well right from the start,” commented the engineer involved. The process was so successful, the customer purchased 6 more systems for other areas of the plant.

If you are using hand-held cartridge guns, contact your Midway Sales Engineer or our engineering group (800-279-1401) for ideas about reducing your material costs!

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