By pre-painting metal prior to assembly, a process known as coil coating, manufacturers of products with painted steel, aluminum or other metals will dramatically increase productivity, shrink processing costs, improve quality and reduce environmental concerns - all at the same time.

Just ask Nordyne, Inc., manufacturer of HVAC equipment. Always on the lookout for ways to improve its processes, Nordyne traded in its old internal electrostatic painting process for more efficient coil coating technology.

With this technology, large coils of metal sheet stock (including cold-rolled steel, hot dip galvanized, electro galvanized, zinc-steel, aluminum, stainless steel, copper and brass) can be coated in a continuous, highly automated process prior to fabrication. During this process, the metal is unwound, the top and bottom sides are cleaned, chemically treated, primed, oven-cured, top-coated, oven-cured again, and then rewound for shipment. The variety of coatings available is nearly unlimited, and pre-painted coils are extremely flexible, with the ability to be rewound, drawn, formed, bent and blanked.

Prior to the switch to coil coating, Nordyne had a few concerns. "We were unable to find a coated material that could stand up to the outside elements, especially the salty air on the east and west coasts," reports Dodd Schimpf, plant manager. When they found what they wanted in coil coatings, it revolutionized their systems. Nordyne has since made a 100% switch to coil coating on all of its production lines and subassembly areas.

In making the transition, Nordyne altered its storage and handling methods to avoid scratching the pre-coated parts. They now utilize dedicated storage containers and foam or other material to keep the parts separated and scratch-free. The manufacturer also modified its coating formulations and dies in order to produce deep-draw parts that did not peel, crack or chip. These improvements facilitated Nordyne's move to coil coating and brought significant cost savings, quality and environmental improvements and, most importantly, improved customer relationships and satisfaction. Other improvements due to coil coating include:

  • Inventory: Nordyne has seen a 200% increase in raw material turns, and reaped $1 million a year in inventory savings. The company has seen a drastic reduction of bottlenecks in the finishing process, and excessive inventory has nearly been eliminated.

  • Space: After selling its electrostatic system, the reduction of inventory freed up more space for manufacturing and more profitable uses.

  • Quality: The improved quality and reliability of the coil coating over its old post-paint system resulted in an advantage over the competition, and publicizing that fact brought more customers to the facility. Compared to post-painted parts, pre-painted parts have two coats of paint, instead of just one, and the paints bond much tighter to the metal. In addition to an enhanced appearance, coil coating provides superior product durability and an extended service life.

  • Environmental Compliance: Although Nordyne has always boasted clean emissions, its old post-paint system required tedious reporting to meet federal environmental regulations. By pre-painting its parts with EPA-approved equipment, Nordyne has completely eliminated the time-consuming reporting. Coil coating is one of the most environmentally friendly processes known for applying finishes to metals.

  • Customer Responsiveness: The coil coating process has allowed Nordyne to improve response time with its customers by increasing speed and flexibility, and implementing Demand Flow Technology (DFT). DFT gets rid of the fabrication departments by integrating the work into production lines.

  • Productivity: The combined results of pre-coating and DFT are that Nordyne has seen a 400% improvement in the work flow process. Many delays in the plant were caused by work stoppage while parts were painted, dried and cured before moving to the next assembly stage. These bottlenecks are eliminated with the use of pre-painted metals.

    Once the conversion process to coil coating was complete, Nordyne ran more efficiently, more effectively and more economically. Coil coating is the ideal solution for any manufacturer looking to lower costs, improve productivity and run a tighter shop. Plant Manager Schimpf summarizes, "For us, this has been a very good transition. It is a tremendous improvement over what we had before, and we have no visions of ever going back."

    For more information about this study, or converting to prepainted metal, visit, or call the National Coil Coating Association at 216/241.7333.