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Mobile Apps for Powder Coating

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017

Harnessing the interactive capability of our mobile devices, there are several applications (apps) that bring the powder coating world closer together and allow access to information for new projects as well as to solve problems with old ones.

Mobile technology has transformed the way we live our everyday lives. Smartphones allow the user to search for a good movie, watch the trailer, read dozens of reviews, navigate their way to the theater, and even pay for tickets. Now, this ability to search for information, gather data, interact remotely, and connect to other devices is beginning to change powder coating as well.

This article reviews some recent mobile apps intended to help prospective powder coaters better understand the benefits of the technology, and help existing users operate more efficiently.

While the introduction of powder coating apps is fairly recent, and this survey may not include all of the apps that are available, the pace of app development is accelerating so that more exciting developments are likely to be just around the corner. The apps world is also very dynamic, so some apps may come and go, or be updated to new versions from time to time.

Apps to Find, Purchase Powder Coatings

A number of mobile apps are designed to describe powder coating products and provide technical information and pricing quotes.

AkzoNobel’s powder coatings business has introduced an Interpon® app that allows customers to purchase powder coatings directly from their mobile phones or tablets. AkzoNobel customers can browse the entire collection of ready-to-ship and RAL products. App users can search and sort these products by color, chemistry, technical specifications or performance criteria. The app then provides access to product data sheets and pricing for over 400 products in the AkzoNobel powder coatings catalog. According to Steve Kiefer, AkzoNobel’s North America business director for powder coatings, the app (available for both the Apple and Android operating systems) provides a powerful interactive mobile tool to access product information and make purchases 24/7.

Arkema Inc. has deployed the Rilsan® Fine Powders mobile app to connect powder applicators with customer service and technical experts, to access detailed product literature and helpful videos, and to download technical data sheets. Prospective users can submit requests for follow-up information, receive primer and powder recommendations, and request customized price quotes. An online questionnaire allows Arkema’s engineers to understand each customer’s specific project requirements to provide a targeted, informed recommendation about which primer and powder products best fit the user’s needs. App users can then submit a request for a price quote directly to Arkema’s customer service team. For existing projects, the app’s technical support function provides a quick troubleshooting guide. Applicators who are having technical problems, or need individual advice, can get fast answers directly from engineers, which helps cut down on valuable lost production time and defects. An illustrated troubleshooting guide provides suggested fixes for common problems and advice for improving powder coating efficiency. The Arkema app also provides access to an extensive library of videos, literature and product data sheets.

Jotun Powder Coatings has developed the iRise mobile application, a sales tool for making presentations to Jotun’s clients. The app provides an easy-to-navigate showcase of successful projects from commercial buildings to iconic landmarks that use Jotun powder coatings. Each case study describes how Jotun technology helped the end-user achieve their goals. App users can choose from among a large selection of projects to get detailed information, including the specific powder coatings used, the owner and applicator details, and the year the project was completed.

Other mobile apps are being independently developed to help smaller custom coaters run their businesses. For example, the Powder Coating Sales Order—Deluxe Mobile App (https://www.gocanvas.com/mobile-forms-apps/4046-PowderCoating-Sales-Order-Deluxe) offers a simple tool that helps powder coaters track orders that use a range of industrial coating products. The app replaces paper forms, making this information accessible from any smartphone or tablet. App users can track orders and powder coating jobs, including customer contact details, email address, company location, order number, details of goods ordered, and more. Once completed, the sales order form can be converted to a standard company invoice and saved for their records.

Calculators and Other Tools

Another breed of mobile app helps powder coaters calculate various useful numbers.

For example, the Powder Coating Institute (PCI) has launched a mobile version of the popular powder-to-liquid coating comparison tool. This calculator is a simple but effective tool for evaluating and comparing the material costs for powder and liquid coatings. After entering some simple information (such as the percent volume of solids, specific gravity, application or reclaim efficiency, product cost and applied thickness) the app calculates and compares the cost of each type of coating, and offers a visual comparison of the powder and liquid material costs. It can also be used to evaluate powder coating materials individually or side by side. Aside from these helpful calculations, the PCI app also offers information about the advantages of using powder coatings, upcoming technical and training events, and links to additional resources that can be accessed directly from the app.

Parker Ionics has launched a similar powder coating calculator that features easy-to-use touch screens to calculate powder coverage (in square meters per kilogram or square feet per pound) and calculates the cost per pound (or kilogram) of powder.

A calculator designed by CWS Powder Coatings of Duren, Germany, performs several additional calculations to help applicators optimize automated powder coating lines. By entering key parameters such as the price of their powder, conveyor and reciprocator speeds, the app calculates the user’s applied cost (in either price/square meter or square meters/kilogram of powder), powder consumption per part, reclaim efficiency, production rate, and powder use per spray gun.

Go-Go-Gadgets

The most advanced mobile powder coating apps developed so far allow you to connect to various devices that gather data, monitor or even control powder equipment in real time.

For example, the EdgeScout remote monitoring technology from RRAMAC Connected Systems offers a mobile app designed to monitor industrial OEM equipment like washers and cure ovens. The system can send system operators and supervisors an email or text alert when there is a system fault or a key parameter falls outside a preset operating range. The app provides graphic dashboards that permit staff to monitor critical parameters like temperatures or pressures at a glance, including historical data trends and an archive history of system alarms, downtime reports, predictive maintenance, and the use of consumable parts like spray gun tips, filters, or chemicals. The RRAMAC system communicates directly with the powder system PLC or other controllers, and transmits encrypted data to RRAMAC’s hosted server via customer LAN or cellular modems.

DeFelsko Corporation has developed a new device, PosiTector® SmartLink, that wirelessly connects DeFelsko’s line of PosiTector film thickness, surface profile, and dew point probes to an Apple iOS or Android smartphone via a free mobile app. The app transforms the smartphone into a virtual full-featured PosiTector film thickness gage. Using Bluetooth technology, measurements are instantly transmitted to the mobile phone screen as far as 30 feet from the probe. Operators can also save PDF reports, including photos taken with their smartphone or from a photo library, and they can add text notes from the keyboard or voice notes using the phone’s microphone. The software provides real-time data graphing and statistical analysis. No internet is required for these features, but with an internet connection, production data can be shared and archived, and the reports can be emailed or saved to the cloud.

Axalta Coating Systems has tapped the power of the cell phone camera. The company’s color-matching mobile app, Axalta AXS, provides powder coaters with access to a large collection of colorful powder coatings with a click of the mobile phone’s camera. Axalta AXS allows users to scan any surface to match its color with an Alesta stock powder coating. This self-contained, rapid color measurement tool increases productivity by eliminating the need to order a powder coating sample or a set of prospective color chips. Once the app finds a color match, users can obtain the product codes and chemistry details for the powder, and order the proper color chips. According to Kristen Boyd, Axalta’s marketing manager for powder products, “The AXS app provides the powder coating industry with a quick and simple way to scan a color and select the best Axalta powder product match.”

Perhaps one of the most sophisticated measurement tools is MeasureColor MobileTM platform app from PPG Industrial Coatings. MeasureColor Mobile is a cloud-based color platform developed jointly by PPG and the creators of the MeasureColor Mobile technology. It integrates a mobile color-matching app with a small, highly-accurate MeasureColor handheld scanning device. The system allows the user to match a scanned color to a vast library of PPG liquid or powder coatings. The PPG MeasureColor Mobile system dramatically improves the speed and accuracy normally required for color selection. Currently, the system is available to PPG’s sales and service team members and PPG customers on a subscription basis.

MeasureColor Mobile users begin by placing a small Bluetooth-enabled handheld scanner on the surface of any desired source (including metal, plastic, leather, fabric, drywall and other materials). The color measurement is then compared to color-match systems that are used around the world, such as MUNSELL COLOR™, RAL® and Federal Standard 595C along with thousands of architectural paint colors that can be instantly cross-referenced to a corresponding PPG coating color.

The software calculates the color difference (Delta-e) for each potential match, and reports the PPG findings on the MeasureColor Mobile app. Color matches are displayed by color name, product code, product category, gloss range and resin type. Clicking on a recommended product codes gives users access to product data sheets, safety data sheets, cure conditions and inventory status.

The MeasureColor Mobile platform increases productivity, improves customer responsiveness and cuts costs by streamlining the color-matching process. “The MeasureColor Mobile scanner provides immediate feedback,” says Shelley Verdun, PPG powder product manager, industrial coatings, “so customers can place orders for the products on the spot saving valuable time compared to doing color matching in the lab.”

Undoubtedly, these outstanding mobile apps are the first of many to be developed that harness the interactive capability of our mobile devices. Such apps bring the powder coating world closer together and allow 24/7 access to information for new projects and to solve problems with old ones. But, hopefully the technology also makes us more productive and efficient so we can occasionally kick back and enjoy that movie we found on our mobile device.

Paul Mills is a marketing and business development consultant to industry chemistry and equipment suppliers. He has been a writer for the powder coating industry since 1994. Paul can be reached at 440-570-5228 or via email at pmillsoh@aol.com.

Author: PCT Editor