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VOC Challenges in OEM Manufacturing

Problem

As part of our consultative service for our dip tank customers, we carefully track everything introduced into their tank(s); paint, solvent, and additives of any sort. We analyze this data for various properties, one of which is tracking VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions.

Our client’s data suggested that they’d be close to a permit violation soon if something wasn’t done to lower VOC emissions. The conventional solvent-based dip-coating supplied had never had a performance issue. Good film coverage, fast dry, good weatherability, good humidity, salt spray, and excellent dip tank stability; were the “good” things about the coating. The bad thing was its VOC of 4.13#/gallon.

The client had installed a regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) years earlier and used it to effectively burn their VOCs. This was their option for staying in compliance with their air permit. Still, their RTO required replacement which would have resulted in a $750,000 capital expenditure. Also, the propane’s annual cost to run the RTO was in the amount of $200,000. This was an option the client wanted to move away from.

Solution

We began the improvement process to lower the VOCs without sacrificing performance or application properties.

Our Technical Account Managers (TAMs) made routine, monthly visits to the customer’s facility. They kept our internal information up to date, providing all the info we needed to begin.

Next, our internal strategic planning team put their heads together and requested that our polymer provider develop a new resin explicitly designed to overcome the challenge we were facing.

Every component of the formula had to be considered; flow modifiers, dispersants, defoamers, and driers were all evaluated for effectiveness and environmental impact.

We worked closely with our customer’s environmental consultant to ensure our product would pass any permitting air models and maintain compliance into the future as the business grew.

Results

Developmental work took almost three months to complete. The resulting formulation exceeded expectations, surpassing our goal by developing a 1.55 #/Gal VOC coating. This was significantly better than what we or our customer had expected for this type of application.

Our sales team, technical account managers, and lab personnel were on-site to evaluate the application, appearance, cure properties, and confirm that we exceeded our customers’ expectations.

We started the trial at 6:00 AM. The Director of Quality, head engineer, and Director of Purchasing were all present for the startup. After about three hours of running, all were satisfied with the new coating. It ran perfectly without any issues.

As a result of our proactive consultative approach, we kept our customer out of trouble with air quality officials, reduced their operating costs as well as improved their product.

This is what we do! We’re protecting what’s important!! Our customer!

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