How To Get Your Shop Ready For Gas Catalytic Drying
Greg Gilmore, owner of Gilmore’s Collision Center, a shop dedicated to team building, continuous improvement in cycle times, and a higher quality of life, said his shop has reached its full potential for the first time in 70 years in a conversation with Fender Bender’s, Travis Bean.
Greg’s shop, Gilmore Collision Center, is located in Wichita Falls, Texas. For years, it was a relatively modest business; however, since then, it has come very far. He attributes a lot of the growing success to shifting his focus on reduced cycle times, tackling constraints in the paint booth bake cycle, and improving his shop’s relations with insurance. Ultimately, though, he talked about the fact that he saves upwards of $1,500 a month since switching the gas catalytic drying– a drying technology that can cure primer, paint, and filler in a matter of minutes.
In another interview conducted by Travis Bean with, Steve Trapp, North American Services Manager for Axalta Coating Systems, Trapp said “These are all typical benefits you can expect to see.” Trapp had visited nine shops in various locations across Europe who have gas catalytic dryers installed to help learn how he could bring the technology over to the U.S. For many in the automotive industry, gas catalytic drying is seen as the future for the paint booth bake cycle.
However, shop owners need to be ready and organized before they can see all of the benefits of gas catalytic drying. Your technicians need to be prepared and your processes needed to be updated, according to Trapp. Both Gilmore and Trapp agreed that while there are half-arch and full-arch units you can get for booths, full-arch units have the biggest impact on reducing cycle time. “If you choose to put in the full arch for drying, you don’t need a prep shop anymore. Your prep department can become body and you can push more cars through,” Trapp said. So, as long as you’re fully prepared for a big change in your shop, your constraints will improve. However, if you haven’t updated your processes or prepped your team, you may just eliminate old constraints at the cost of new ones.
How To Get Your Shop Ready For Gas Catalytic Drying
In this article, we will cover the following steps:
- Is Your Shop At Full Capacity?
- Research The Companies That Have Patents On Gas Catalytic Drying
- Research And Understand The Technology
- Look At Costs And ROI
- Prepare Your Shop For Change
Step One: Is Your Shop At Full Capacity?
In Trapp’s experience, shop’s often approach him when they’re not operating at their highest capacity. He said, “What that’s telling me is they are equipment junkies and they like to add on to their shop, even if it’s not the smart thing to do.”
You have to be running at “100% capacity,” Trapp said. Gas Catalytic Drying won’t give you the results you want if you don’t have enough cars going in and out of the paint booths.
Step Two: Research The Companies That Have Patents On Gas Catalytic Drying
Gas Catalytic Drying originally came from Italy, but over the last decade or so, it has made it’s way all across Europe. There are three main companies that hold patents for gas catalytic drying, and they are: USAutocure GasCat, and Symach. However, even though it’s very established over in Europe, the U.S. is a different story. As of right now, there are quite a few limitations when it comes to getting gas catalytic drying in the U.S. It’s possible that your shop may have to handle customs and international shipping. Beyond that, because of the time zone differences, it also may be a bit more difficult to receive service for your gas catalytic dryer.
However, at the moment, there are companies in the U.S, such as GasCat, that can provide gas catalytic dryers, services, and even part replacements in the U.S. According to research by Travis Bean, USAutocure, GasCat, and Symach have the following pros and cons:
U.S. Auto Cure
- Gas catalytic dryers can be set up freely and easily.
- No requirements for your shop.
- They provide a specialist to train your technicians.
- Brand new and untested
- Floor mounted rack system the reduces space
- The Belt is a dust and dirt hazard
- A lot of moving parts that can break down
- They will provide any shop with gas catalytic dryers
- They will heavily assist your shop in putting a lean-focused production system in.
- They offer a program discussing the Theory Of Constraints as well as technical training.
- The most cost-effective system.
- Simpler and less likely to break.
- Sold and supported in the U.S. with immediate parts and availability.
- Being able to get one regardless of constraints sounds great, but if your shop can’t handle it, you won’t save much money on it.
- Technicians are sent to shops for several days to provide training and lean repair processes.
- Requires your shop to do months of planning and blueprinting in order to install in a brand new, empty, or existing facility (renovation).
- You have to replace multiple stations such as wall cladding, sanding Station, and more. It’s more of a package deal than anything else.
- No U.S. representation and you have to get your parts in Italy.
Step Three: Research And Understand The Technology
Gas catalytic drying uses propane, a propane/butane mix, or methane to push gas through a catalyst to cause an exothermic chemical reaction. The exothermic reaction releases energy through heat or light.
There’s no source for ignition, so there’s no burning. Because there’s no flame, heat is created only from a chemical reaction in the catalyst. However, the catalyst is composed of aluminum composite and is mixed with palladium oxide, zirconium, and platinum in order to make the catalyst have a long lifespan. The reaction is then caused by hydrocarbon molecules breaking down.
The robotic framework holds the catalysts, and the gas is carried to them and released through series of small holes along the edges of the machine. The holes blow the gas over the front panel with gas consumption that is roughly 70% less than electric infrared and convection dryers.
Step Four: Look At Costs And ROI
In your body shop it’s important to research the prices and determine whether your facility would need a full renovation. However, you should also consider how much training your technicians will need to receive.
According to Greg Gilmore, his shop paid roughly $120,000. However, it’s also good to remember not every installation and setup will be as expensive as that. In most instances, Trapp said you could expect anything from $100,000 to a couple million.
Some of your ROI will come from the savings you make on natural gas consumption; however, with a painting drying process that takes only a few minutes, you’ll also increase your shop’s cycle times and throughput– which is a huge pay off for your shop.
Ultimately, it’s never a bad idea to consult with other shops that have the equipment. However, be sure to look for ones that are a similar size and setup to yours.
Step Five: Prepare Your Shop For The Change
Reducing cycle time and increasing throughput is what you’re trying to accomplish; however, there are a few changes you should be aware of.
Old Constraints May Go Away, But There May Also Be New Constraints:
Even if you eliminate some of the older constraints (such as your paint booth as a bottleneck), new ones could potentially pop up. In order to prevent that and stay ahead of the curve, be sure to organize and account for every process and have systems in place as a “just in case.”
Employees May Have To Change Positions
To account for the changes some of your staff may need to wear “multiple hats.” That could mean focusing on a more “team-oriented” management style as well as having technicians operate different stations at different times to keep the work-flow smooth.
Account For Any Extra Space You May End Up With
Since a gas catalytic dryer can do everything from primer, curing, and clear coats, you may be able to remove on old area that was dedicated to doing just one of those. In general, gas catalytic dryers can free up a ton of space for other operations.
Choose The Best Paint For Gas Catalytic Drying
While gas catalytic drying can work with most, if not all of the paint types, it typically works best with waterborne.
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!