When it comes to running a body shop, the paint booth has always been one of the biggest constraints during daily operations. According to Simon Bowers in an interview with Fender Bender’s Andrew Johnson, “The recession caused me to look at my business costs differently.”
“I knew about lean processes, but still knew there had to be a better way.” Bowers said.
Simon Bowers is the managing director of Spraytone Limited– a 10,500 square-foot auto body shop in the U.K. For a very long time, his operation worked much like the ones here in the U.S. However, over the years, his business ran into several issues and constraints and he knew there needed to be a change. When all was said and done, he knew cost reduction and efficiency were what needed to evolve in order to stay relevant.
Fast forward in time and Bowers figured out what was hindering work flow in his shop. He went through everything from employee training to the repair processes, but he noticed the biggest change when he upgraded his paint booth.
“The paint booth was one huge constraint. We needed to move nine cars through each day, but it required too many resources to get the work done.” Bowers said.
This Is Where Gas Catalytic Drying Came Into Play.
According to Fender Bender’s Andrew Johnson, Bowers had the most positive impact after installing a gas catalytic dryer. To put it simply, a gas catalytic dryer is a computer operated machine that cuts down paint curing to just a few minutes. Bowers installed the equipment back in 2010, and by 2012, he saw a decrease of 164%. Not only that, but his department began to run on half of the operational resources and saw a new profit improvement of 9%.
So, even though gas catalytic drying sounds new over here in the U.S., it’s actually been around for quite a long time. Both Europe and Australia have been using it for a few years now. And even though it made its debut here in 2014, a lot of shop owners have been reluctant to evolving their processes. In the body shop industry, time means money, and gas catalytic drying can cut the paint booth cycle down to just a few minutes.
So, How Does It Work?
Gas catalytic drying was created and patented by Symach– an Italian-based manufacturer. And Jon Parker, the managing director of Byteback Group in the U.K., said “it’s a complex electromechanical machine.” The technology itself uses catalytic exothermic drying to cure paint at extremely efficient speeds.
The system runs on propane, propane/butane mix, or methane and passes the gases through an aluminum composite catalyst to create a chemical reaction. The reaction creates energy through non-burning heat and transfers that energy through medium wavelengths to cure the paint.
When it comes to Infrared energy, Parker said, “It allows you to precisely control the wavelengths that are emitted toward painted surfaces. You can create a wavelength that is absolutely ideal for drying paint products.”
The machine itself operates pretty similarly to a car wash. It has archways that the vehicles enter through– which allows for the the top, sides, and all other angles to be heated equally throughout.
As for how the system is operated, there’s a control panel near the outside of the paint booth letting you program how it will dry depending on the type of paint you’re using. Whether it’s waterborne, clear coats, primer, or body fillers, the dryer can be completely customized for every situation.
Gas Catalytic Drying Saves You Time And Money
You can have a car’s paint dried in just three minutes with gas catalytic drying. So, not only does it dry quickly, but it makes it so all of the other processes are just a few minutes as well. What usually takes a day or so with current methods, gas catalytic drying can do in just 30 minutes.
According to Simon Bowers, his technicians used to spend 36 total hours just on paint drying alone during the week. With the ability to do all the painting phases in just a few minutes, they spend only 7.5 hours painting a week. That’s literally 28.5 hours less time spent on the paint booth cycle. He’s had a 70% increase with drying speed and a 49% increase in employee efficiency. What used to take a bunch of technicians, now only requires half of the resources– which have saved him time and money.
Your Shop’s Throughput Will Increase Exponentially
The average shop in the U.S. can move out about six or so cars a day, but with gas catalytic drying, there have been reports of anywhere between 10 – 12 cars a day after installation. While most shops typically need more than one paint booth, with gas catalytic drying, you only really need one– increasing space for other operations as well.
It Lowers Your Shop’s Energy Consumption
In comparison to the convection drying a lot of shops here in the U.S. rely on, gas catalytic drying doesn’t “burn gas.” It splits the molecules and turns them into energy through a medium wavelength. One catalyst within the machine can last for roughly 30,000 treatments. So, you essentially reduce the amount of money you’re paying on gas by a substantial amount.
According to both Jon Parker and Simon Bowers, you can save (and Bowers did save) anywhere from $1,100 – $1,500 a month on gas bills.
How Gas Catalytic Dryers Fit Into existing Paint Booths
A GasCat Dryer is mounted on two fixed rails on opposing sides of the booth. The robot uses one drive motor and two drive shafts. The catalytic panels are fixed on an arch to decrease breakage and reduce the number of moving parts and motors. The programming itself is pretty easy. Enter the type of material being cured, manually position the shaft stop magnet trip points to align with the area being cured, and press enter. GasCat systems can be installed in most paint booths and single arches can be installed in a prep deck– servicing up to three work bays at once.
GasCat Dryers provide you the best, fastest, and most efficient drying solutions out on the market. We believe that time is money. With this advanced drying system, your business will reliably process more vehicles each and every day.
Let us help you save time and streamline your paint booth drying processes. Contact us today!