Forklift Attachment Manufacturer Meets Increasing Demand with Cutting-Edge IntelliFinishing System

It’s a familiar tale for many manufacturers – demand is increasing, which is good – but that demand can have a significant impact on the efficiency of an unprepared operation.

Without the tools to efficiently meet it, quality, lead time, and more can fall by the wayside.

Cutting-edge manufacturing finishing system solutions are an answer to this challenge, but it often takes an expert partner to help organizations navigate complicated system solutions and find the best course of action for their unique needs.

Recently, for a forklift attachment manufacturer, in business for over 75 years, that partner was IntelliFinishing.

The Challenge: Keeping Pace with an Increasing Number of Parts

The customer had a simple problem – it needed to paint an increasing number of parts, and the legacy finishing systems the organization had in place, both automatic and manual, weren’t up to the task.

The customer also needed to be able to paint a wide variety of parts, from just a few inches long to 20 feet long, four feet tall and four feet wide and parts weighing up to 5,000 pounds.

That variety called for a robust, cutting-edge finishing system – but also one that would fit into a relatively small footprint, as the customer’s plant offered limited space for the installation of a new solution.

The Solution: An IntelliFinishing Finishing System

While the customer explored many traditional finishing system solutions, in the end, none provided the flexibility and power within a tight footprint that the organization required.

Enter IntelliFinishing.

Over the course of several years, IntelliFinishing guided the customer through several draft layouts and budgetary options to help the company fit a new system into its overall budget. Even after approval was secured, IntelliFinishing continued to work closely with the customer to tailor a system to their exact needs and specifications.

In the end, the customer invested in a cutting-edge finishing system from IntelliFinishing that eliminated the operation’s entire need for manual spraying and leverages a conveyor and two shuttles that help keep the system’s footprint tight.

These shuttles allow parts to move from process to process without any track turns, which would have taken up far more total system space. The friction tube conveyor also allows parts to move forward or backward. With this feature, the customer is able to move parts into paint booths and then back out of the booths, rather than through the booths, saving more floorspace. 

The system also allows the customer to have two different paths for products through the system. All parts that fit the smaller shuttle part window (under 12 feet in length) serpentine through the system. They start at load, move clockwise left to the small shuttle, then move laterally to the wash line, where they move to the right through the three-stage wash, then across the larger shuttle and into one of two booths. 

After being spray painted, the parts then use the larger shuttle to back out of the booths and transport up the system to the cure oven. Items are then moving from right to left through the cure oven for the carrier designated amount of time. Times in the cure oven are recipe-driven based on the part and the optimal paint cure specifications. After curing, these parts then move to the smaller shuttle and up to the unload lane before the empty carrier moves back via the larger shuttle to the load lane. 

An alternative path through the system is used for larger or other odd parts that would not work well on the smaller shuttle. With these types of parts, all travel is limited to the large shuttle. The customer can load parts as long as 20 feet using this path. This path through the system starts with loading on a separate spur to the large shuttle within a manual, three-stage, plastic-wall-enclosed wash bay. After manual spray wash and rinses, these longer parts travel via the large shuttle straight to the customer’s larger paint booth. 

After being painted, the items back out of the booth, are placed onto the large shuttle and then move up to the cure oven lane, moving from right to left. However, these large items do not flow through the cure oven. They simply dwell for their custom amount of time in the cure oven, then back out of the oven (in the opposite direction as items would normally flow) back onto the large shuttle. They then return to the manual wash spur for unloading.

The Result: Greatly Expanded Manufacturing and Finishing Capabilities Ready to Scale

With the operation’s new IntelliFinishing automated finishing system, the customer is now able to paint all of its parts with the same system, meeting its expanded throughput needs. Items now cure for a time that is based on the color and material mass specifications rather than via an ambient cure that could take days. 

Besides saving valuable footprint and inventory floorspace, the company is also able to track parts through the system and rush products as needed to meet customer delivery and expedited delivery expectations. Due to the automatic wash, the customer is able to prep its products in a consistent manner and apply a better, longer-lasting finish.

“One thing that was important to us was to work with a company that would be flexible with us and who would consider our ideas on how we might want to process different parts or needed to flow products,” said Bill, the Engineering Staff Manager. “We found that IntelliFinishing continued to work with us and was a great partner in modifying the system and controls to meet our unique product finishing needs. They also were very committed to staying with us from A to Z in the installation project and remained onsite after we were up and running for weeks to help tweak the system and handle any sporadic issues the system required as we learned its full capabilities.”

To learn how IntelliFinishing can design and build an automated industrial finishing system with proven technology to address your unique operational challenges and goals, contact us today!

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