How to Increase Paint Spray Booth Efficiency

How to Increase Paint Spray Booth Efficiency

To ensure a perfect paint job on a vehicle, boat or appliance, it is critical to have a clean working environment where the paint can dry. This environment should be free of dust, dirt, humidity, oily mist and other air-bound particulates that could degrade the texture and consistency of the paint job. If even one speck of dirt lands on a fresh, wet coat of paint, it could ruin the whole coat and force the painters to start the whole process over again.

At many of today's assembly plants and industrial facilities, paint jobs are performed in paint booths, where drying surfaces are protected from foreign matter. When a paint job is performed inside a paint spray booth, each coat can dry without outside interference. Paint booths safeguard surfaces from wind and also block out air-bound dust, dirt and mist. Paint booths also contain paint spray, protecting the environment by reducing instances of air-bound paint diffusion.

From a safety standpoint, paint booths practically eliminate the possibility of hazardous, flammable overspray. To maintain a successful operation with the equipment, you must enact a paint spray booth filter change schedule. You must also take steps to ensure the efficiency of the working spaces and processes.

Area Efficiency

Before you set up a paint booth, make sure that the surrounding area is accommodating. Compare the dimensions of each prospective booth to the largest objects that you would paint in such an enclosure.

1. Determine the Largest Parts

Do you paint objects with unusual dimensions, where one section is taller or wider than the rest of the object? Would this large part be fitted tightly into the workspace, or will you have sufficient room between these large dimensions and the walls and ceiling of your working area? Even if the largest parts only account for a small proportion of the objects you paint, you will need to have a wide enough space for workers to move around for practical and safety reasons.

2. Take Interior Features Into Account

Is the workspace interior equipped with unusual features, such as multiple stories or compartments with odd dimensions? If so, would these features make it more difficult for the setup of tools and the flow of personnel during any given time? If your workspace contains areas that are narrow and elevated, you will need to ensure that the processes assigned to these sections are in line with the overall safety standards of the space as a whole.

3. Provide Ample Working Space Around All Objects

To achieve sufficient area efficiency, you will need to allow space in which workers can move around the largest possible object that the area in question might need to accommodate. Estimate the largest piece you would ever paint, be it a vehicle, furnishing, appliance, boat or aircraft. If that large piece were to occupy the center of your workspace, would there still be room for your team to walk around the piece and perform their functions? Ideally, there should be a clearance of 5 feet between the sides of the object and the interior walls of your workspace.

4. Provide Ample Overhead Space

In addition to side margins, your workspace will also need an above clearance high enough to accommodate the tallest possible object that your company might service in the future. This factor will be even more critical if you intend to add a lift to your working arsenal, as you will then need at least 4 additional feet of vertical clearance. You might even require at least 6 feet of vertical clearance if you intend to have workers stand directly under the elevated object.

5. Make the Exit Accessible From All Areas

For the safety of your work crew, you must ensure that there will be enough space between the object and the exit door. If work is performed on the side of the object at the opposite end of the exit, will there be sufficient room for the workers to make their exit if a fire were to erupt in the workspace? Would large objects be in close quarters with the exit? You need to have space around the object on all sides, as well as under and above, for workers to exit the space at a moment's notice in the event of a fire.

Process Efficiency

To run an efficient paint booth operation, you must have a layout that facilitates a speedy process. All hands that operate the booth must be fully trained in the latest efficiency protocols.

1. Determine Average Daily Workloads

How many parts do you intend to paint in one workday? Will such goals be feasible within the space and setup that you have in your workspace? If the layout is such that workers are constantly stalled by barriers and tight spaces, a change to your current layout is likely in order.

2. Make Proper Cleaning Accommodations

What cleaning methods do you use in your workspace? Are the cleaners solvent-based or water-based? The workspace will need to have sufficient room to accommodate these methods along all sides and corners of the working area. If the tools used in these processes consist of large machines and hoses, the space between the walls and objects will need to accommodate these tools as well as the workers.

3. Consider How Parts Movement Will Be Facilitated

How will the parts be moved into the workspace? If the parts are driven or towed in, the entryway needs to be wide enough to accommodate the largest objects. If some objects need to be tilted sideways to pass through the entrance, you should reconsider the current dimensions of the entryway, especially if you work with large objects that could be dangerous if tilted off balance. If the parts are moved into the workspace on a conveyor system, you will need to ensure that there is still enough clearance around this conveyor for workers to move around all sides of each object with tools in hand.

4. Provide Ample, Safe Storage for Supplies

How much room do you have for all of your paints, solvents, tools and cleaning supplies? These items need to be stored in an orderly manner with ample room for products that require safe storage. The storage cabinets also need to be a safe distance from heat or electrical sources, especially if they contain flammable materials. Check the laws in your area to make sure that your storage layout complies with local building codes.

5. Establish Cleanup and Emergency Protocols

Do you have a protocol for handling spills and waste? If flammable chemicals leak inside your workspace, how would they be contained and cleared away? Consider all the possibilities and make sure there is be sufficient room within your workspace to handle such instances. If any of the processes that go on inside your workspace could lead to a disastrous spill, you will need to reevaluate the layout and dimensions of the working interior.

Ensure all staff are trained in the safety and sanitation procedures necessitated by each change or upgrade to your paint booth and surrounding workspace. This should include procedures for handling cleanups and emergencies.

Energy Efficiency

To conserve energy in a paint booth, you must have efficient tools and lighting. The point is to get the most work from minimal levels of energy consumption.

1. Choose Efficient Paint Tools

Consider how efficient your painting tools are. Does most of the paint reach its target or do vast amounts of paint particulate disperse into the air? If the latter is the case, you do not have an efficient toolset. Moreover, your workspace is unlikely to be environmentally sound, especially if the paints contain toxic chemicals.

2. Maximize Energy and Reduce Consumption

To achieve maximum energy efficiency, you need to conserve and reduce the energy you use. Some of this conservation may involve pre-released heat or cooling energy, which you could recover and put to future use.

The size and capacity of your system booth will largely determine the energy efficiency of your painting operations. If the power booth is equipped for high-energy tools, there should also be control mechanisms in place to conserve energy when the tools are not in use. Fit your booth with a timer so tools can run for the set duration of a given application and then shut-off automatically to save energy.

3. Set up Optimal Lighting

Another key to maximum paint spray booth efficiency is proper lighting. Depending on the layout of your workspace, you might need a more complex setup of overhead lights to properly illuminate all the areas across the floor where your staff works. For large-scale light patterns, the T-5 fluorescent tube is one of the more effective options.

Position lights to remove as much shadow as possible within a given work area. To achieve the best lighting arrangement, experiment with different lighting angles inside your workspace. If the light is maximized, you can save on light-related energy costs. When properly angled, a little light can provide more illumination in the areas that count than a roomful of poorly situated lights.

Equipment and Maintenance Efficiency

Any company that operates a paint booth or finishing system can improve its efficiency with periodic maintenance and upgrades to the lighting, layout and working arsenal. If properly employed, the following improvements could vastly enhance your productivity.

1. Schedule Filter Changes

For maximum paint spray booth efficiency, spray filters must be clean and free-flowing at all times. With use, however, filters can get clogged and slow down your system. It is, therefore, necessary to clean out your filters periodically, preferably after every 50 or 60 hours of cumulative spray time.

Various environmental factors can change the flow of your filters. If the workspace is laden with dust and dirt, particulates are bound to enter the filters and impact the system. The amount of spray that disperses into the air — versus how much actually sticks to a surface as intended — can also affect the filters.

The number of objects that you paint in a given timeframe will also determine the pace at which the filters become clogged. If you paint eight vehicles per day, on average, your filters will need to be replaced more frequently than if you only handle five vehicles with the same equipment.

2. Arrange Periodic Maintenance Packages

Spray booth troubleshooting and maintenance are crucial for a profitable operation. If you neglect timely maintenance, your equipment might wear out prematurely or possibly breakdown on one of your busiest days. To avoid equipment failure and costly system downtime, it is critical to have your painting equipment serviced periodically.

Depending on how many paint jobs you handle on a typical day, you might need to have your equipment serviced on a monthly, quarterly, biannual or annual basis. Some paint shops purchase annual service packages, where a professional cleaner comes once each year to inspect, clean, oil and grease the machinery. At other workshops where workloads are higher, a quarterly service package is often the better option. Some shops even hire in-house staff to perform these steps when necessary. Take inventory of your workloads to determine the option best suited for your paint booth.

3. Use a Touch-Screen Control Panel

Today's most efficient painting operations use computerized control panels. For maximum efficiency in your workspace, select a control panel with a touch screen. This way, you can keep track of the basic energy usage and paint consumption that occurs during your daily operations. From the control panel, you can track spray hours and be alerted each time your filters near the end of their lifecycle.

From a control panel, you can easily track bake hours and store paint formulas. With sufficient temperature limits, your booth could facilitate cure temperatures as high as 140 degrees.

4. Select a Practical Workspace Layout

It is crucial to place your paint booth onward from the sanding area. At some facilities, owners seek to conserve space by placing the sanding area at the back of the premise, far from the exit. The trouble with this layout is that dust and dirt are bound to travel forward within this setup. In other facilities, a vehicle must pass back through the sanding area after exiting the paint booth, attracting dust along the way. Not surprisingly, these facilities end up handling a lot of re-dos.

Upgrading Your Paint Spray Booth

If you run an auto garage or repair facility, a paint booth could be a boon to your operation. With a paint booth, you can cut down on paint usage and virtually eliminate do-overs because coats will generally dry smooth and clean the first time.

At North American Auto Equipment, we sell paint booths for a variety of uses. Whether you have owned a paint booth before or are new to the concept, now is the time to upgrade to this rewarding option. Check out our catalog of paint booths for more of an idea of how they could transform your operations.