Lean Series Part II: Reduce Inventory Waste in Your Paint Production Process

It’s About What It Really Costs You!

Waste is defined as anything other than the MINIMUM amount of time, equipment, tools, material, parts, people, and space required to ADD VALUE to the product.

Inventory waste in the Finishing Industry would most likely be related to raw materials, WIP (work in progress) or finished goods stock that is held, not having value added to it. Equipment, tools, people and space would also come in to play. Inventory waste is stock and work in process in excess of the required amount needed to produce goods “just in time”.  Unnecessary inventory that accumulates before and after processes is an indication that continuous flow is not being achieved.

Large batch sizes, lack of balance in work flow, long changeover time, incapable processes and not adhering to procedures may all cause excess inventory in your finishing process. Every piece of inventory you hold has a physical cost associated with it. There are also less obvious costs that cut directly into your profit including the transportation and movement of this inventory, the space required to store it, the administration keeping track of it, the cost of writing it off if it becomes obsolete, and even the cost of insuring it.

An IntelliFinishing (alternative to power and free) automated finishing system for powder coating or liquid coating is very responsive to Lean manufacturing, and focuses on optimizing product flow throughout the finishing process while adding value to your products and to your productivity measurements.

Ways an IntelliFinishing Automated Paint System Reduces Inventory Waste for a Lean Process

  1. Reduce WIP:
    With a turnkey finishing system provided by IntelliFinishing, batching product is no longer necessary.  The IntelliFinishing system has immediate response when adjusting to process changes and production flow providing continuous improvement in your finishing processes. It can even be extended to point of use, allowing your parts to travel from paint to assembly to shipping, improving your workflow. Our lean system allows for pre-programmed recipes that automatically change process speeds and dwell times specific to the part and part family.
  2. Flexibility to Close Production Gaps:
    Buffering is the ability to collect products that can be delivered at a different rate than received. Many times, power and free conveyor systems are designed with buffer zones. IntelliFinishing has the ability to move parts off of the line for additional masking, while allowing faster processed parts to continue through the system. While buffering space is available with an IntelliFinishing completely automated system, it is usually not necessary. Routing can be optimized based on system availability.
  3. No Need to Batch Because of Recipes:
    IntelliFinishing’s smart controls allow you to input recipes with the unique application requirements for each part family.  As different parts are loaded onto the system each recipe dictates process changes throughout the system on the fly, improving not only your efficiency, but also the quality of your parts.
  4. Reduced Number of Parts to be Reworked:
    IntelliFinishing’s unique chainless conveyor completely eliminates the chance for lubricant from a chain to drip onto parts. Also, part recipes and the ability to move in forward and reverse decreases the chance of parts being over-cured or under-cured.
  5. Reduced Bottlenecks:
    With the addition of smart controls to your paint line, IntelliFinishing gives you the capability to review your production data to determine the root cause of a bottleneck and take action immediately. You have the ability to “catch up” with an IntelliFinishing system because you can speed up on demand, whereas monorails are limited to one speed only and power and free requires a separate chain to run delivery speeds.
  6. Reduce Downtime (Scheduled or Unscheduled):
    IntelliFinishing allows for spurs to easily be incorporated into the design of your system with the forward and reverse direction of travel inherent with the conveyance technology. Spurs can be used as cooling areas, maintenance areas, inspection areas, or to re-sequence parts on the line.
Overhead Conveyor Spur Video

Spurs are easily incorporated into the design of an IntelliFinishing complete paint system. The forward and reverse direction of travel that is inherent with the conveyance technology is perfect for cooling, maintenance or inspection areas, or to resequence parts on the line.

We Give You the Option to Compare and Choose

Visit our website at www.intellifinishing.com and compare the IntelliFinishing options to monorail or power and free traditional systems. See the differences, and learn how to choose the right conveyor for your production needs. There is always much more involved than just the price of a new system. Why not have a system that gives you some of that cost back in savings?

Lean Series Part I: Reducing Transportation Waste in your Paint Production Process

How You Gamble With Your Paint Production Processes: 11 Ways To Be A High Roller

Transportation Waste is defined as the unnecessary movement of people or parts between processes.

Automated conveyors are usually not the first thing lean coordinators for manufacturing think of when they are developing a Lean strategy, but it can have a huge effect on Continuous Improvement.

I hope lean organizers (in any production facility which processes finished parts) consider the following information when beginning their lean journey.

Lean conveyance in manufacturing paint processes is more than moving parts from one place to another; it’s about eliminating unproductive waiting time by delivering parts to meet customer or station demand.

An IntelliFinishing complete finishing system is responsive to Lean manufacturing, focusing on optimizing product flow throughout the finishing process.

At IntelliFinishing, our unique Complete Powder Coating or Complete Liquid Coating System has the ability to compliment your Lean Manufacturing processes and eliminate waste in your facility, adding value to your products and your productivity measurements.

When thinking of an automated paint system, I hope you compare the benefits of all the types of conveyor systems available to you. See how an Intellifinishing system stacks up against monorail and power and free. Of course, I want you to choose our IntelliFinishing system if it is the best fit for your needs. Each conveyor has value for the processes in a manufacturer’s finishing system. The value added to your particular Lean expectation is dependent on what your requirements and end goals are.

Ways an IntelliFinishing Complete Paint System Reduces Transportation Waste for a Lean Process

If you are looking to cut transportation waste, an IntelliFinishing automated paint system may be what you are looking for. Here are some of the areas where you could be rolling “snake eyes” with every toss of the dice, (when you start up your production line for the workday), with an IntelliFinishing System.

  1. Batching product is no longer necessary and results in a reduction in WIP (work in progress):
    The IntelliFinishing system has immediate response when adjusting to process changes and production flow providing continuous improvement in your finishing process. It can even be extended to point of use, allowing your parts to travel from paint to assembly to shipping, improving your workflow. Our lean paint system allows for pre-programmed recipes that let you change process speeds and dwell times specific to the part and part family.
  2. An IntelliFinishing system offers layout flexibility and grows with your production:
    Several of our customers have added additional phases after their systems were installed, and efficiencies were recognized. Second and Third phases were implemented when necessary, instead of over-investing in the beginning. We equate this as “jackpot” for our customers!
  3. Independent zones and carrier controls:
    Our carriers can stop and start throughout the entire system, without stopping the rest of production, which saves you money! “Cha-ching!”

    Independent Zones & Carrier Controls

    Carriers can stop and start in a process without affecting the rest of the line.

  4. Single Piece flow or One Piece Flow is attainable:
    An IntelliFinishing complete finishing system for manufacturers can attain single piece flow because it uses recipes to produce consistent and repeatable results. Our systems also have less than 1% downtime meaning you will be able to set and meet your required takt times.
  5. Friction driven conveyor eliminates downtime due to chain issues: 
    Imagine a conveyor system that has a footprint that equates to one mile in length, filled to capacity with parts for the paint process (you are playing with a full deck!). Now imagine that somewhere within one of the zones there is a chain jam. If you work in production you probably have the ability to pinpoint exactly how long it takes to shut down production, find your pry-bar or heavy duty come-along (or whatever tool you have in place) to release the jam and physically pull the carrier in reverse to a buffer zone; perform the required maintenance; inspect the chain links as stated in your maintenance manual; all before you can restart production. As we have seen in plants, sometimes the jam fixes itself once the torque releases and operators will spray paint the section where the jam occurs and wait for that section to pass through the platform to inspect the chain for damage. Think about how many people on the paint line this affects and add in the costs of their downtime. “You got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em”. If this is something that happens frequently, you need to get more information about IntelliFinishing Automated Finishing Systems as soon as possible. 

    Friction Driven Conveyor - No Chain

    Our alternative to power and free conveyor has no chain. Reduce your maintenance, your floor space and downtime.

  6. No wasted space on return chain because there is NO chain:
    Return chain is a huge waste taking up valuable floor space. It can be a nightmare when troubleshooting. An IntelliFinishing Turnkey Finishing System’s unique “wild card” feature, is the ability to travel in forward AND REVERSE with no wasted movement such as a return chain that is empty having to travel through the whole footprint to get back to its original starting point. An IntelliFinishing system uses deadhead turns and spurs if parts need to be re-routed or receive extra processing.
  7. Reduced downtime:
    Or what we like to refer to as the “Royal Flush”. No chain. No jams. No operators waiting for production to restart. No de-dogging. Less maintenance.
  8. Point of use:
    An IntelliFinishing System gives you the ability to incorporate your work stations where you need them for your product flow. Masked parts can be unmasked at workstations located together for point of use in the production process to continue on their way immediately. You are in control to develop your personal lean strategy and what design works best for you when you “lay your bets on the table” with an IntelliFinishing design.

    Click to Enlarge - Point of Use - Complete Finishing System

    We can create a Lean layout for your finishing system that incorporates point of use into your production process. Click to enlarge.

  9. No wasted movement of conveyor:
    Our IntelliFinishing system, used by top manufacturers, offers your production line the ability to save on everyday wear and tear, plus maintenance costs, by not continuously running. If a part, or trolley is not present in a zone, the conveyor doesn’t run. We’re serious about saving companies as much as we can, unlike those other “jokers”.
  10. Reduction in floor space: 
    IntelliFinishing “ups the ante” when you require a system that WILL fit into your available space, and we have proven it. One of our customer’s was told there was NO way they could fit an automated finishing system into the small space they had available. Our IntelliFinishing complete finishing system was designed just for that space, installed into that space and has been producing finished parts for more than two years! We have decreased floor space requirements by up to 43% in some instances (this was a large system install).
  11. Uses shuttles and deadhead turns:
    The use of shuttles and deadhead turns eliminates the need for large radius turns in your conveyor system, again resulting in reduced floor space. Our unique shuttle negates the need for huge turns to accommodate large part maneuverability and allows for easy expansion with no production downtime when you are ready to expand. We are “all in” when it comes to helping our customers save time, money and manpower when choosing a finishing system.

    Space Saving Shuttle Video

    Shuttle and deadhead turns eliminate large radius turns resulting in reduced floor space usage.

Choosing a Conveyor

Conveyors for Finishing Systems

The selection of a conveyor for your powder coating system or liquid paint system at your manufacturing plant should be based on the features and benefits of each of the conveyors, part and process requirements, as well as your business goals.

There are three types of automated overhead conveyors typically used in finishing systems:

  • Monorail conveyors
  • Power and Free conveyors
  • IntelliFinishing conveyors

The layout should be configured to move parts from the loading point in the fabrication area through the finishing system to the unloading point in the assembly or shipping area. The goal is to minimize wasted movement, damage to the parts and personnel while providing the desired finished quality.

Monorail Conveyor Description

Overhead Monorail Conveyor

A monorail conveyor is simple and efficient but lacks flexibility.

Overhead monorail conveyors have the load-carrying and the drive functions combined in one element—the endless chain. The chain is guided by a rail system based on either an I-beam or an enclosed track. A take-up unit ensures that the chain is pulled tight as it leaves the drive unit. A caterpillar drive or sprocket drives the chain. Parts are suspended from the chain by special attachments or load bars. This conveyor can follow only one path. No other paths or spurs for masking, maintenance, labeling, loading or unloading are typically part of a monorail conveyor system.

Advantages: simple, efficient, low initial cost, best used for a single type of part and process

Disadvantages: no layout flexibility for part variety or process changes, any line stop or breakdown stops entire conveyor, no ability to stop for a process (masking, touch-up, labeling) without stopping entire conveyor, chain maintenance, take-up unit adjustment and monitoring, lubrication can cause issues with the quality of the parts, noisy

Monorail Conveyor

Power and Free Conveyor Description

Picture of power and free

Power & Free conveyors use a two-rail system and pusher dogs to allow for more flexibility than a monorail system.

Overhead power and free conveyors are two-rail systems. The trolley is the load-carrying element and is located below the chain. The trolleys use the lower “free rail” and the chains are in the upper “power rail.” Pusher dogs establish the connection between chain and trolley and can be engaged (dogging and de-dogging) and disengaged as needed. The “free rail” can be equipped with switches, lifting stations or stops to allow the trolleys to follow different paths, or be lifted or lowered, stopped or moved at different speeds throughout the system. The entire conveyor system is PLC-controlled.

Advantages: flexible layouts for variety of parts and processes, stop and start, multiple speeds, reduction in personnel since parts may be stopped, trolleys can be buffered, part tracking, integration to ERP, process recipes

Disadvantages: higher initial cost than monorail conveyor, any line stops or breakdowns stop entire conveyor, more layout options require more chain, return chain, speed changes require multiple chains and drive motors, chain maintenance, take-up unit adjustment and monitoring, lubrication can cause quality problems, part swing since there is no accelerate or decelerate, no ability to reverse direction reduces layout options, no ability to reverse when there are problems requires complete chain to be stopped, noisy

Dog Magic Chain Conveyor (Daifuku North America)
Power & Free Conveyors (Daifuku Webb)

IntelliFinishing Conveyor Description

IntelliFInishing Spinning Tube Friction Drive Conveyor

An IntelliFinishing conveyor system provides ultimate flexibility using a spinning tube friction drive requiring no chain.

The IntelliFinishing conveyor provides even greater flexibility than power and free because the movement of the trolley is performed with a spinning tube by a small motor. Each section or zone of an IntelliFinishing conveyor may be independently controlled with a variable frequency drive (VFD) and the entire system is PLC-controlled. Data handling and smart controls with recipes for a variety of parts provide even greater flexibility and automation. With “no chain”, driving the system, many of the issues like maintenance, noise, chain jams, take-up problems, lubrication ruining finished parts, de-dogging, floor space for return chain, etc. are not an issue for an IntelliFinishing automated finishing system. The trolley (propelled by the spinning tube) moves forward and reverse which provides more layout options and decreases production stoppage and downtime when compared to power and free conveyor system.

Advantages: flexible layouts for a variety of parts and processes, stop and start, multiple speeds, can stop individual motor sections independent of each other allowing remainder of conveyor system to run, reduction in personnel since parts may be stopped, trolleys can be buffered, part tracking, integration to ERP, process recipes, accelerate, decelerate, reverse, minimal maintenance and no chain lubrication, reduction in floor space, lower energy and resources since processes run only when a part is present, expandable, modular and moveable, more adaptable for lean manufacturing

Disadvantages: higher initial cost than monorail conveyor, more options may cause increase in costs because of drives and motors, limitations on inclines and declines, larger elevation changes require lift sections

IntelliFinishing System Overview
IntelliFinishing Shuttle for Large Parts
IntelliFinishing Paint System at Raytheon

 Advantages of Overhead Conveyors


  • simple
  • efficient
  • low initial cost
  • best for single part/process
Power & Free

  • flexible layouts
  • stop & start
  • multiple speeds
  • buffering
  • part tracking
  • integration to ERP
  • process recipes

  • flexible layouts
  • stop & start
  • multiple speeds
  • buffering
  • stop sections without stopping whole line
  • part tracking
  • integration to ERP
  • process recipes
  • accelerate
  • decelerate
  • reverse
  • minimal maintenance
  • no lubrication
  • reduction in floor space
  • expandable
  • modular
  • moveable

Disadvantages of Overhead Conveyors


  • no layout flexibility
  • chain maintenance
  • take-up adjustment
  • lubrication
  • noisy
Power & Free

  • higher initial cost (vs. monorail)
  • chain maintenance
  • take-up adjustment
  • lubrication
  • noisy
  • more layout options require more chain
  • return chain
  • part swing

  • higher initial cost (vs. monorail)
  • limitation on incline & decline

Join IntelliFinishing at The Powder Coating Show 2015

IntelliFinishing will be at The Powder Coating Show 2015 - See Us at Booth 201

Visit IntelliFinishing at Booth 201

The Powder Coating Show 2015 is the ultimate learning experience. The 2015 show is in Louisville, KY, May 6-7. The show offers educational sessions and the chance to talk to industry experts. Download your FREE Guest Pass so you can join as at Booth 201.

Check out all of the upcoming events and tradeshows IntelliFinishing will be attending including:

ProMat 2015
March 23-26
Chicago, IL - McCormick Place South
Visit us at IntelliTrak’s Booth #4507

AeroDef 2015
April 20-23
Dallas, TX - Hilton Anatole
Booth #334

IntelliFinishing is a turnkey finishing system provider using the latest technology that is lean and more cost effective than traditional systems, provides options that others cannot, and uses a significantly smaller footprint.   Our patented systems include:

  • Conveyance
  • Washers
  • Ovens
  • Controls
  • Booths
  • Platforms, etc.,

Quick installation. Approximately half the time to install compared to a traditional system.

Scalable. React to market conditions by expanding or contracting your workload.

Flexible. Handle a variety of sizes of parts with diverse finishing recipes efficiently.

From design to install, IntelliFinishing provides a turnkey installation that is focused on quality and efficiency for your automated finishing system.

Limiting Downtime in Manufacturing

Downtime is one of the leading causes of wasted resources within manufacturing, but where companies fail is when they chalk up their losses to the cost of doing business. Issues happen in various forms, and while some can’t be avoided, taking a back-seat approach to how you respond can resort in losses for your company. If you can’t eliminate downtime completely, you can certainly focus on doing the next best thing: limiting it as much as possible. When it comes to limiting downtime in the manufacturing industry, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

The Real Costs of Downtime in Manufacturing

In order for your company to fully grasp the importance of limiting downtime, first take a real look at how much it can cost. To find the estimated average cost that one hour of downtime is causing your organization, you need to take a look at factors like employee costs per hour, the fraction of employees affected, the average revenue per hour and the fraction of revenue being affected.

Let’s look at an example: say you manufacture a product with 100 employees, each employee makes $25 per hour and you produce $10,000/hour of product. Now, imagine your conveyor is down for 1 hour every week because of problems with the chain. When this happens, it affects 80 percent of the people on the line. Using the above formula, you would take the employee costs per hour ($2,500*.8) and add it to the average revenue per hour ($10,000) = $12,000/hr. Multiply this by 50 weeks in a year and you have lost out on $600,000.

Reducing Downtime of the Automated Paint System

picture of IntelliFinishing conveyor

Conveyor is propelled with spinning tube – no chain

Solutions like the finishing system that IntelliFinishing provides are focused on helping businesses limit downtime on conveyor systems. The IntelliFinishing solution alone decreases the typical amount of unscheduled and scheduled downtime by using technology approved by the automotive industry which typically requires a 99% up-time.

With traditional conveyance, like power and free, the chain and take-up and moving mechanical parts such as stops and pushers are frequently the cause of downtime. IntelliFinishing’s conveyance has eliminated these items because it has NO chain, therefore eliminating this point of failure.

No more chain elongation causing a jam at the take-up. No more problems backing up a conveyor since our conveyor is capable of moving backwards. No more chain results in much less downtime.

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