Success on Display

Posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Edited By: Sharon Spielman

Installing a new powder coating line allowed this Tennessee-based display manufacturer to streamline the production and efficiency of its finishing line.

For more than a century, the 300-plus employees at American Display & Fixture, a division of Marketing Alliance Group in Chattanooga, Tenn., have been manufacturing wire, steel and wooden display parts. The company is reported to be an industry leader in the production of visual merchandising and product displays for a variety of large retailers. As the demands of customers increased, so did the need for a finishing solution that would successfully rise to the challenge.

"We powder coat all of our steel parts because it is durable and cost effective. The range of colors and finishes are endless with powder coating, and our customers demand quality," says Dion East, project manager at American Display.

After looking at a number of different suppliers, American Display decided to work with Nordson for a powder coating solution. "It is a very competitive industry, and we are always looking for new ideas and innovations that can lead to efficiencies in production," says East.

"Our powder facility at the time was holding us back," explains East, who managed the installation of the new system from start to finish. He says installing the Nordson system was a huge step into the future for their operation. Originally working with a system that was slow and often bottlenecked, the team was eager to work with their new supplier to install a line that would increase line speed and overall efficiency. The company ultimately installed a ColorMax® 2 powder spray booth with Encore® automatic and manual spray guns.

Upgraded Accommodations

At the Chattanooga facility, sheet metal and tubing is laser cut, formed, welded and powder coated in-house via multiple production lines. "One of our biggest motivators was efficiency. The industry demand was for larger pieces. We had to streamline our process to save time and money, and the Nordson system took care of that," says East.

On the previous line, which would only accommodate parts up to 28 inches wide, large parts needed to be disassembled before being powder coated, and then put back together. The spacious design of the new booth (which will accommodate parts up to 60 inches wide and 10 feet long) eliminates that step and also allows for several color changes per day, increasing turnaround.

American Display has a custom-designed system from General Automatic Transfer (GAT). The washer is a four-stage system. "We partnered with Chemetall to provide us with a cleaner/ phosphate and an electronic monitoring of the chemical levels that works great for us," Easy says. GAT also built a custom dry-off and cure oven. "We have 20 feet of IR oven followed up with convection to cure our ever-changing parts at 30 feet per minute max."

Regarding the old powder coating booth, East says, "The old booth simply didn't have the capabilities when it came to coverage and reclaim rate. The savings (with the new booth) are significant."

The powder coating booth is equipped with 12 Encore venturi automatic guns and two Encore LT manual hand guns, which are used to coat hard-to-reach areas after the part has moved through the booth. East says that the manual guns are hardly ever required, as most of their parts are being sufficiently coated automatically. "The coating quality of the…guns is unparalleled," he says.

The booth is not only more efficient; it actually conserves material. Rather than spraying to waste, the booth is able to reclaim all of American Display's 40-plus unique colors and averages a color change time of less than 10 minutes compared to over an hour with their prior system. "I can't say enough good things about Nordson and the entire process," says East. "The improvement has been obvious. We are extremely happy with performance."

New Capacity, New Opportunities

The new system expands American Display's capacity to bring in additional work from a larger customer base. Marketing Alliance Group has a new OEM division, Alliance Metal and Plastics is the division that was created to produce OEM parts for other manufactures. "With our increased capacity in the sheet metal, tubing and powder coating departments and our molded/ extruded plastic division, we are ready to become a preferred supplier to the OEM industry. We can cut, stamp, form and powder coat in-house, turnkey," East concludes.

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