When Paul joined Rainford in September last year as the new Paint Plant Manager, he didn’t realise that he was going to need to build it first! Well, project manage the build. But that is what he and his team have done, with support from Rainford Directors.
The plant installation is now complete, and Paul and his team are currently running quality tests to ensure that the powder paints and processes being used meet the required ISO standards. These vigorous assessments include sending painted panels away to be salt spray tested, in which salt water is sprayed for 1000 hours continuously at the panel to ensure that those cabinets built for outdoor use are durable enough to withstand the elements. There will also be in-house testing including paint adhesion testing, paint thickness tests and chemical resistance.
The new facility will open officially in September once all the processes have been validated and will be one of the most advanced in-house powder painting operations in the UK.
Paul has spent the last 26 years in the printing industry, working for a high-end printing company that printed secure documents such as cheques, licenses, vouchers and ballot papers. He’s used to managing lots of people and printing lines, less so project managing the build of a paint plant, but he’s embraced the challenge and says it has a been a fantastic learning curve.
The plant equipment had already been ordered when Paul started, with the decision made to buy the equipment from the industry leading GEMA and RDM, but there was plenty to do in preparation of the installation, including painting the walls and floor, updating the lights in the factory with energy efficient LED units, and relocating an assembly unit to another area in the factory. He’s also worked closely with the equipment manufacturers to ensure that the installation and commissioning process went as smoothly as possible.
“It’s been hugely satisfying to see the progress made each week and it’s extremely rewarding to see the plant nearly ready to start operations. There were a few challenges along the way, but that’s to be expected on an ambitious project like this,” he says.
One such challenge was upgrading the gas supply. The existing gas meter and gas supply wasn’t big enough to feed the 3 large ovens and the heated pre-treatment system. The upgrade involved an uprated meter, the digging up a 60m stretch of car park, and the installation of new gas pipes inside and outside of the factory.
Says Paul, “This excavation caused us a few logistical problems regarding the use of the car park and loading and unloading of product, but thanks to the patience and flexibility of our staff we were able to negotiate any difficulties.
“I’m really looking forward now to getting the plant operational for customers and settling down to ‘business as usual’, putting processes in place and getting the new team working together.”
There will be two powder coating processes. Line one comprises a fully automated on-line solution with an advanced 4 stage pre-treatment wash and the latest fast colour change powder application technology for small to large production volumes. A second semi-automated bespoke line will support prototype and project work.
“Our vision for this amazing paint plant is nearly realised and it’s been our motivation from day one to create something that will deliver the best quality paint on our enclosures for customers. And of course, there will be other benefits too including lead time reduction, better workflow and production planning. It’s been a journey; a very worthwhile one and mostly enjoyable!” Paul adds.
There are some environmental benefits too. By not having to transport Rainford’s enclosures to external paint companies, mileage and emissions will be saved. Furthermore, the state-of-the-art paint booth selected has a paint reclaim value of 97% – the highest reclaim figure in the industry. Excess paint falls back into the system, gets cleaned and mixed again with the fresh paint, leaving only 3% wastage.
When Paul isn’t building or running paint plants, he enjoys sports, he’s a Liverpool fan and also a fan of live music and expanding his vinyl record collection, and as much as he loves music, he can’t play an instrument and says he “couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket”.