Go On Green

Posted on Monday, April 1, 2013

By Sharon Spielman

In January 2011, McCain Inc., headquartered in Vista, Calif., invested roughly $20 million to expand its manufacturing capabilities in the United States, including the addition of one of the most high-tech powder coating operations in Southern California. The venture has given the company a green light to cruising forward into new markets.

McCain was founded in 1987 as a traffic signal manufacturer by Jeffrey L. McCain when he grew weary of the delays in his electrical contracting business on account of unreliable and inconsistent product delivery from suppliers, according to Trisha Reddan, marketing manager at McCain. “What began as a modest signal shop, quickly expanded to include many of the components essential to making intersections work, including traffic cabinets, traffic controllers, signs, and control software,” she says.

In 2006, McCain made a strategic decision to allow other companies to leverage its decades of manufacturing expertise and formed its contract manufacturing division. Met with near instantaneous success, McCain’s contract manufacturing division has grown steadily and found a niche in providing quality and cost-effective solutions to companies with medium to high volume manufacturing needs. With the addition of its newest plant in January 2011, the company now operates in excess of 300,000 square feet and employs more than 500 people in North America.

“The manufacturing division is McCain’s fastest growing business segment, representing 20 percent of our business today,” Reddan continued. “With U.S. manufacturing making a comeback, we see great opportunities for continued growth and expect the manufacturing division to ultimately represent 40 to 50 percent of total revenue.”

A large part of McCain’s success is based on using state-of-the-art equipment that helps control costs, while providing products of a consistently high quality in short lead times.

McCain Manufacturing has been involved in the manufacture or powder coating of parts and products from a diverse range of industries including automotive, defense, gaming, alternative energy, information technology, safety, and entertainment. Reddan offered that some of her favorite projects include bus-sized (over 40') cloud-computing containers, production lighting, parts for Coast Guard Humvees, slot machines, carwash attendants, train harnesses, and an innovative and vivid green cell-phone recycling unit.

Auto, Batch, Go!

McCain Manufacturing is the name given to the outsource manufacturing division of McCain Inc. In 2012, the company expanded its North American powder coating operations dramatically. Housed at McCain’s 100,000 sq-ft, LEED-certified manu- facturing facility—just down the road from the company’s headquarters—the two cutting-edge installations include an automated conveyor and large-scale batch powder coating system.

The automated, overhead I-beam conveyor system brings together the latest technological advancements in the industry, including a seven-stage pretreatment wash, electrostatic application, and curing process. The high-throughput system also features dual coating capabilities that save time and money by applying multiple coats in half the time. Components too large for the automated system are treated in the batch system, where experienced personnel apply each coat by hand using power pulse technology.

Specifically, the automatic powder line includes a Gema Magic Cylinder quick color change booth (12,000 cfm) with an OptiCenter Powder Management System, 12 OptiFlex automatic guns, three OptiFlex2 Manual Wall Units, Roll-on Roll-off platform and IR package. The batch system that was installed includes a Gema SMART Production Booth (18,000 cfm), conveyorized line, OptiColor-8 color (two units, one for each painter), two OptiFlex2 Wall Units, seven hoppers and one vibratory box feed base, and two recovery units (9,000 cfm)—both spray to waste. The system is capable of running hundreds of colors, textures and finishes. “Generally speaking, we use between 25 and 40 colors in a 12-month time span,” Christine Jersey, COO at McCain, says.

“Our automated overhead conveyor system, which is just one of our three powder coating systems, is comprised of components from Tellkamp Systems and Gema,” she explains. Parts begin by being completely cleaned and dried to remove oils, grime, grease and dirt using McCain’s proprietary seven- stage pretreatment system (which uses a combination of washes, such as alkaline and zirconium, deionized water washes, and a sealer). Parts then move through a series of additional components which may or may not be used based on the desired outcome, according to Jersey. Those additional components include an automated Gema booth, Tellkamp IR oven, a second manual booth, and finally a curing oven. “Having two paint booths on the line allows us to apply a primer and final coat, coat and clear coat, etc., without having to run parts through the system two times. For parts that may have tricky components, they can be painted in the automated booth and touched up in the manual booth, to ensure an even application across all surfaces,” Jersey says.

McCain’s commercial-grade powder coating is available in many colors and textures for parts of all shapes and sizes, including aerospace and defense products, automotive materials, medical equipment, metal enclosures, solar systems, telecommunications, and more. Progressive techniques and superior finishes ensure a resilient, long-lasting finish that extends product life expectancy by shielding the surface from conditions such as chemicals, scratching, weather, harsh use and impact. With rigorous quality and test procedures, McCain’s state-of-the-art systems meet or exceed the standard requirements of nearly all end-use markets. The company just exceeded 6,000 hours in their AAMA certification process. They are automotive standards compliant, military standards friendly, and they utilize Six Sigma statistical quality control.

“McCain has always been a pioneer in developing technology,” Joe Hoferer, manufacturing sales representative at McCain says. “Our powder coating systems continue the trend by using advanced equipment and machinery to deliver exceptional speed and capacity uncommon to the region. Combining technology with skilled artisans and technicians, we offer consistent, high-quality powder coating to our customers.”

The expanded powder coating operations are the latest value-added services being offered at McCain’s fullscale manufacturing facilities. In addition to powder coating, McCain’s North American manufacturing division offers sheet metal fabrication, CNC machining, die casting, plastic injection molding, thermal forming, and turnkey assembly, complete with engineering and design services.

Karen Walters, marketing coordinator at Gema, says, “I have been to countless powder coating facilities and McCain is one of the nicest and cleanest facilities I have seen—very impressive state-of-the-art technology throughout the entire operation.”

Sharon Spielman is editor of Powder Coated Tough magazine. She can be reached at 847-302-2648 or via email at sspielman@powdercoating.org.