Efficient Plant November 2017 - 17

feature | plant profile

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PAINTING VS. ANODIZING
Material welded to load bars, prior
to being anodized. Anodize racking
carries the work load through the
anodizing process and provides a
secure electrical connection leading
to the power supply during the anodizing steps.

fronts. It also finishes column covers and decorative aluminum sections and anodizes aluminum
window frames for city buses. The anodization
process-creating a nonconductive oxide coating
on the surface of aluminum-is a unique and key
element of its business.
Working in the middle of the manufacturing
process, Linetec must be aware of its customers'
production process on the front and back ends.
"Reliability and on-time delivery is tantamount in
our business," Joswiak explained.
With a typical lead time of about five days,
sometimes customers need their products turned
around in less than a day. With more than 400
customers, the company receives the equivalent
of eight full truckloads of aluminum frames each
day. The company may coat the heads of screws
and bolts, extrusions, brake metal, sheet stock,
fabrications, ornate structures, or as many as 1,600
pounds of hand rails. "No job is ever the same. We
work with all types of aluminum materials," said
Joswiak. "We never know what our customers are
going to send us."

RELIABLE PRODUCTION
With a maintenance team of just 26 people,
keeping the 750,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space
and it's more than 1,000 assets operating at peak
efficiency requires tight scheduling and regular
planned maintenance.
"Reliability is the name of the game," Joswiak
said. "If we are not reliable, then our customers are
not reliable. We need to have a proper PM program, the right parts on the shelf, and a depend-

NOVEMBER 2017

Liquid paint and anodized metal are
two core finishes applied at Linetec's
plant in Wausau, WI. Painted material
is offered in nearly endless colors
of high-performance paint that
protects buildings from weathering,
aging, and pollution. Anodizing
is extremely durable and offers a
hardness unmatched in aluminum
finishes.
"This is why customers want to
anodize their high-traffic areas like
store fronts, for example," Andy
Joswiak, Linetec's vice president
of engineering said. "The anodized
coating is less than one-third the
thickness of a piece of paper. Other
than typical maintenance, you don't
have to polish it or clean it, and it
won't scratch."
"We actually grow the anodizing
out of the aluminum," he explained,
"It is created right on the surface."
Starting with an aluminum
substrate and negatively charged
oxygen ions, the material is
positively charged. The aluminum
and oxygen react to the aluminum
oxide, which grows into the
aluminum two-thirds and out
one-third. The coating has about
500-billion pores/sq. in. Oxygen
migrates down to the pores on the
base layer and reacts. It grows at the
interface and pushes up the rest of
the coating.
The first-formed anodizing is
at the surface, while the last that
forms is at the aluminum-aluminum
oxide interface. Aluminum oxide
is the second hardest naturally
occurring substance on earth, next
to diamonds.
Anodizing also has the ability to
take on dye. This process is typically
used for decorative purposes. It is
the same technology that is used in
the textile industry.
"If you ever go into a restaurant
and you see that shiny brass
handrail, it's not brass at all," Joswiak

said. "It is anodized aluminum that
has been dyed and sealed. You
notice those gold handrails-the rails
never, ever tarnish. There's a lot of
anodized aluminum out there that
doesn't look like aluminum."
The painting process, on the other
hand, requires drying, or curing, in
ovens where the components bake
at 450 F. The anodizing process
requires sealing at 190 F, with a rinse
step following the seal.
The largest paint line has a 1,000ft. conveyor. It typically runs from 16
to 24 ft./min.
"The paint-application area
is pretty orchestrated," Joswiak
said. "The schedule comes out and
everybody knows the next color
is blue and the color after that is
green, for example. Everybody knows
not to inject something into the
schedule because otherwise the blue
job gets green and the green job
gets blue."
The painting process is so precise,
only one pint of paint is wasted on a
changeover. There are typically 35 to
55 paint changeovers each day. This
precision happens thanks to a series
of pumps that powers a circulation
system only a few feet from the
spray equipment.
The sprayers are attached to
automated switch blocks. When
solvent comes out clear, it stops
spraying. Then there is an automatic
switch to the next color block. This
takes 15 seconds.
Maintenance manager Todd
Andreshak said the painting line is
the most challenging to maintain.
It has the most equipment and also
requires 32 people to operate it. It
includes sprayer equipment, ovens,
and conveyors.
"It's tough to break that down,
and there is only one certain way to
skin a cat," Andreshak explained. "If
something goes down, there are a lot
of guys standing around waiting."

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Efficient Plant November 2017

Efficient Plant November 2017 - 1
Efficient Plant November 2017 - Cover1
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