At Metalcolor, one of our strengths is our unlimited flexibility, which enables us to adapt swiftly to our customers' needs in terms of coatings, batch sizes and lead times. The organisation of our two coating lines and the ongoing optimisation of our processes are key to this flexibility.
Our lines are in operation 24/7. "This non-stop activity requires an extremely precise organisation. We need to be able to rely on our versatile, autonomous operators who are trained in the various stages of the process", says Helder Cerqueira. Helder joined Metalcolor 15 years ago and has held a number of positions within the company. Today, he is head of the coating and slitting departments. "Both of our lines are fitted with a quick change system, which enables us to carry out an average of 25 colour changes per day and to produce batches starting at as little as 100 kg. This well-established approach will enable us to coat over 17,000 m2 of aluminium in 2022!"
It is important to note that a large majority of coil coaters are also aluminium manufacturers who first produce their aluminium then coat it. Metalcolor is investing significant amounts in stock of uncoated aluminium coils, which is helping us to cut our lead times considerably.
The company has applied the principles of lean management for 20 years now. "The joint efforts of our operators and supervisors in constantly seeking exactly the right actions have helped us to identify unnecessary steps, make our facilities more ergonomic, and pinpoint even the slightest waste of time, resources and energy. This method allows us to achieve maximum efficiency", states Helder. "For instance, in this way we have managed to halve the time needed to change series, which has also had a positive impact on our energy consumption".
On the subject of energy: in 2018 Metalcolor replaced its solvent incinerator – a recovery system – with a regenerating system paired with heat exchangers. This system allows us to heat the furnaces using the very hot air generated, thus reducing our consumption of gas by 36% over 4 years. In addition, surplus heat from the incinerator is used to heat the entire Metalcolor site, thus reducing our CO2 emissions.
What's next? In order to address the emerging trend for highly durable matt finishes, which generally require two layers, Metalcolor is in the process of fitting one of its coating lines with a second application section. This significant investment will allow us to manufacture dual-coat products in a single process as of 2023. We will reveal more in a future newsletter.