Over the years, Vanguard has refurbished and upgraded aspects of its original washer and oven. Its five-stage washer starts with an alkaline cleaner to remove soils (oil, dirt and contaminants) from the surface. This is followed by a water rinse and then an iron phosphate application, which creates a good paint grip surface as well as offers extra corrosion resistance. Steps four and five are two more water rinses.
The dry-off/curing oven operates at 275°F for drying and up to 415 to 420°F for curing. Typical cure range is 10 to 15 min at 400°F.
And to strengthen its relationship with the automotive industry, Vanguard worked with a Tier 1 company to develop the ability to perform assembly and forming capabilities. As a result, Vanguard is treated as a work cell by its customers, providing services other than finishing. Lawrence Hammett, sales manager at Vanguard, says, "We provide value by strengthening our partnerships and providing service, quality and delivery at a fair price."
Fulp decided to replace the powder booth with a new quick-change powder system from MS Powder Systems, Fort Mill, S.C. The system consists of a double-wall PVC quick-change powder booth with a 36 x 78" product opening. It has a single high efficiency cyclone recovery system, 12 automatic powder guns mounted on reciprocators; two manual powder guns, vertical light bars for automatic gun triggering, 18" horizontal light bars with 3/8" resolution for gun positioning; a quick-change color center, which feeds from powder box or feed hopper; a PLC control panel for operating system, including the color-change process.
The unit is enclosed in an environmentally controlled clean room, which Hammett says improves the efficiency of the system as well as enables Vanguard to have a higher quality finish. In operation since May 2004, the unit has already achieved great results.
Powder output of the automatic guns is kept to a minimum in order maximize the first-pass transfer efficiency and part coverage consistency. Vanguard does not try to achieve 100 percent automatic coverage because many of the parts are very complex. By closely monitoring the ratio of automatic-to-manually applied powder, the finished product has a more consistent overall coverage. Hammett says he believes the company has improved its overall quality and consistency of the finished product due to the higher first-pass transfer efficiency and operating procedures. The improved consistency also has resulted in powder material savings.
Vanguard uses its Datapaq profiling system for weekly oven profiles, to ensure that temperatures and dwell times are just right.
Vanguard's dedication to quality is obvious. The company has achieved ISO 9000/2001 certification and currently has a reject rate of less than 1 percent. It also catches all rejected parts before shipping. As evidence to its commitment to quality, Vanguard has received the Mark IV Automotive Vendor of the Year Award two of the past three years - the only metal finisher to receive this award, which is based on no rejected parts during the year.
At its facility next door, Vanguard still performs its Teflon coating business and uses its three batch ovens to provide quality finished parts as well.