Canadian Finishing and Coatings Manufacturing

January 18th, 2022

CFCM PPG Logo 2022 1 400Direct-to-consumer shipping is growing at a pace that has not been seen in decades—a trend that only accelerated at the end of 2021 with the busy holiday season.

In fact, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, U.S. e-commerce sales grew 39 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2021, creating a greater need for warehousing infrastructure to support this demand.

While supply chain woes have been making the headlines, one important and commonly overlooked component of that warehousing infrastructure is protective coatings.

As more companies ship goods directly to consumers—and as more warehouses and fulfillment centers turn to robotics and automation to increase the efficiency of their operations—it is more critical than ever that shelving and racking manufacturers select coatings that can withstand the daily wear-and-tear of servicing and managing their inventories.

In a performance environment that literally translates time into money, the use of shelving and racking systems that require constant maintenance is both costly and inconvenient. Unfortunately, due to the accelerated boon in direct-to-consumer shipping, virtually none of the specifications of the standard coating established and commonly referenced in other industries exist for shelving and racking manufacturers.

The good news, however, is that most performance demands for industrial coatings are universal. By understanding a few general concepts related to painting types, substrate protection, colour and finish, manufacturers can readily acquire the information they need to specify the best paint system for their shelving and racking manufacturers products.

Cutting Down on Corrosion

Shelving and racking components are notoriously difficult to paint. With hard-to-coat shapes such as wire shelving and baskets, and the need to prevent corrosion on edging where it typically originates, these parts can require an excessive amount of paint.

Selecting the right coating system that provides superior coverage of intricate parts, sharp edges and complex shapes is important to enabling warehouse racking system manufacturers to produce products that last and outperform competitor products.

Due to these challenges, many companies consider powder coatings because of benefits like edge protection and high-transfer efficiency rates.

These single-coat powder coatings deliver exceptional edge coverage and improved wrapping on sharp edges, recessed shapes and hard-to-cover features, advantages that can reduce or eliminate edge corrosion.

Together, high-transfer and high-edge coatings combine to provide enhanced protection and cost-saving benefits specific to this exclusive coatings technology.

The advantages of these powder solutions include reduced labour, material and utility costs due to less waste and elimination of a primer coat, fewer rejected parts and less demand for touch-up, as well as enhanced quality with lower paint thicknesses/volume.

Considering the main causes of corrosion and how it affects the total cost of warehouse racking equipment is the first line of defence in providing an extended service life for warehouse products.

Metal components corrode for any number of reasons, ranging from continuous or repeated exposure to elevated temperatures and humidity, damaging pH (acid) levels, electrolytes, chemicals and ultraviolet (UV) light (sunlight).

The most effective way to select the right coatings for metal shelves and racking is a total system approach that accounts for the following variables:

 – The composition of the metal substrate (cold-rolled steel, hot-rolled steel, stainless steel, galvanized metal, mixed-metal, etc.)

 – The types of lubes and coolants used to fabricate the equipment

 – The materials selected to pretreat the metal substrate (zinc-, iron- or zirconium-based pretreatments)

 – The type of finish coat, including film build (coating thickness) and cure (baking time and temperature) requirements.

Success Starts with the Right Paint Specifications

Specifying the right paint is critical to ensuring that shelving and racking system manufacturers are capitalizing on the latest technology available to maximize the service life of their products.

Industry manufacturers seeking to build next-generation components that exceed performance mandates and protect their brand reputations should review and update their paint specifications regularly to ensure that they address the following criteria:

Scope of the Product – Defines the products covered.

Substrate Type – Details all the metals and non-metal substrates incorporated into aluminum, cold-rolled steel, hot-rolled steel and others.

Paint Type – When declaring the type of paint to be used in a specification, shelving and racking system manufacturers should avoid using a specific paint manufacturer’s product code. Codes can be ambiguous or difficult to find as they often change or may be unique to a specific customer. Instead, detail the specific coatings technology the equipment demands (liquid, powder or electrocoat); then detail the resin chemistry of the desired coating (i.e., TGIC polyester, epoxy, urethane, etc.)

Substrate Preparation and Protection – It’s important to spell out substrate preparation details and methods. In addition to addressing the cleaning and removal of oils, lubricants and coolants left over from the fabrication process, the specification should also state chemical cleaning methods using alkaline, acid or solvent-based products; and mechanical cleaning methods such as shot-blasting.

Color – Establishing and maintaining a standard colour can be challenging. It is important to detail an acceptable range of colour variation and to have a proven and consistent method for determining that the colour of a painted part falls within specification. Pantone, RAL, Munsell and ANSI are colour-cataloging systems commonly used for these purposes, although many larger industrial product manufacturers choose to create their own in-house standards. Maintaining colour standards is a topic worthy of its own article, so it is best to work with a reputable paint manufacturer to understand the intricacies of creating a colour standard and how to detail its parameters in the specification.

Gloss – Similar to the colour specification, the gloss range can have a big impact on a product’s finished appearance. It is important to provide a specific gloss range in a paint specification, as variations in gloss can cause the same colour on a piece of equipment to appear as different shades.

Texture – This section defines the smoothness of the finish. In the shelving and racking industry, limited “orange peel” (minor paint dimpling) may be considered preferable, as it tends to hide flaws and wear well over time. Even so, manufacturers should write firm rules for texture types and variation into the paint spec.

Cure – Establish paint curing parameters for oven or air-drying paint.

Product Handling and Storage – Manufacturers suggest specific rules for handling and storage in their product data sheets, including an acceptable range of temperature exposures and fixed expiration dates to ensure proper inventory rotation.

Performance – Coatings manufacturers can formulate coatings to provide a variety of benefits that are critical for specific customer applications. For instance, antibacterial coatings for food and beverage, hospital or pharmaceutical applications can provide an added level of hygiene. For specific applications, manufacturers can also specify coatings formulated for anti-skid performance, extended UV resistance, advanced edge protection and coverage, or single coatings solutions for shelving and racking systems incorporating multiple substrates (steel and plastic, for instance).

PPG’s portfolio of coatings for shelving and racking systems are designed to withstand the changes in temperature and humidity of warehouse environments while standing up to the wear and tear of turning or transporting inventory.

Solutions such as PPG ENVIROCRON High Transfer Efficiency powder coatings provide both edge protection and a physical barrier against corrosion, oxidation and abrasion, and are available in a wide range of colours to meet specific aesthetics and performance requirements to help keep warehouses fully operational.


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