Trico Pty Ltd

Coating of Automotive Components: Trico Pty Ltd

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Courtesy of Trico Pty Ltd

 Trico Pty Ltd has implemented two major cleaner production initiatives at its production facility. The replacement of electrostatic spray guns with plastic electrostatic rotary bells in its coating operations has significantly reduced reject rates and resulted in annual savings of $59,000 per annum. The replacement of a conventional hot caustic paint stripping process with a sand furnace has been even more financially successful, with annual savings in the region of $126,000.


Background

Trico Pty Ltd has operations in four countries: USA, Mexico, England and Australia. Trico (Australia) is a manufacturer of windscreen wiper arms and blades for the domestic passenger vehicle industry and export to the USA and England.

The philosophy of Trico (Australia) is to retain its prominence in the Australian vehicle industry by staying ahead of advances in technology and vehicle design.

The Process

As part of the production process, all wiper components are coated to provide corrosion protection and an acceptable surface finish. This is done in two stages, involving electrodeposition of an undercoat, and electrostatic spray application of an acrylic top coat.

In the pre-existing process, the top coat was applied using two AN-9 electrostatic spray guns coupled with a rotating rack arrangement. Although electrostatic spraying was used, the guns still required air for atomisation of the paint droplets. This resulted in a relatively high rate of overspray generation. The excessive overspray caused an unacceptably high reject rate on the surface finishing.

During the painting process, the racks used for conveying the components through the spray booth would become coated with paint and required regular cleaning. This was achieved by soaking the racks in a hot caustic bath for eight hours. A maximum of 35 racks could be immersed in the bath at any time. After soaking, the racks were removed and cleaned with high pressure water to remove residual paint and caustic carryover. The use of hot caustic presented safety problems and minor spills contributed to a hazardous working area. The water cleaning of the racks generated approximately 1,500 litres of wastewater per day, which was collected for specialist treatment off-site.

The caustic paint stripping process comprised a 4,000 litre tank of caustic based paint stripper maintained at a temperature of 100 degrees Celsius. The caustic had to be replaced between two and four times per year.

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