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Innovative solutions: Coil coaters provide prompt delivery, cost savings, sustainability and quality control

During the past year, the world has seen unprecedented-and unfortunately, negative-economic forces at work. In the metal construction industry, the recession has affected organizations up and down the supply chain, from providers of raw materials and mills to manufacturers of building envelopes and building teams, including owners, architects and contractors.

While the situation appears to be getting better, players and partners in the metal construction industry have discovered that the innovative solutions that helped them get through the tough times continue to be coveted during business as usual and boom times as well. Particularly in the coil coatings arena, the ability to demonstrate on-time delivery,cost savings, practices in sustainability and, of course, quality control will always serve the entire supply chain well.

Supply, Demand and Delays
As the financial crisis grew, the credit markets tightened up and new construction projects slowed precipitously. As a result, steel and aluminum mills reduced capacity to match demand. However, as the recession begins to slow and new projects are back on the drawing board, combined with replenished inventories, the slightest uptick in demand can cause delays in production at the mills and headaches for those further down the supply chain.

But construction timetables don't wait, and as a result, pressure is on processors to make up for lost time. Many coil coatings service providers have been able to do this by making significant investments in new technology. Through state-of-the-art processes and equipment, coaters can be more flexible in meeting manufacturer's needs, whether itbe by working with smaller quantities to keep inventory low or with equipment that meets higher quality requirements.

 

Cost Savings Count
There are other benefits to coil coaters' flexibility that relate directly to cost savings for manufacturers. By producing smaller quantities,coaters are able to reduce or eliminate manufacturers' work-in-process inventory.This not only keeps capital from being tied up in product, but it also frees up valuable factory space for additional uses.

Going Green, Staying in the Black
Prepainting through a coil coating process is the most environmentally friendly way to paint metal because it is a closed loop process that begins and ends with the coating services provider.In addition, some of the same qualities that reduce manufacturers' direct costs also apply to making a more sustainable product.

By outsourcing the coating process, manufacturers save on direct energy costs.However, because painting is the core competency of the coil coater, the efficient processes developed by them not only save energy, but also use less water and produce less waste, both in terms of product, as well as by-products and emissions.

Further, manufacturers also realize a reduction in administrative tasks and costs. By using a coil coating processor, the manufacturer can relinquish the time-consuming tasks of EPA filings, permits, etc., required of the coil coater. Again, because it's the coil coaters' core competency, these requirements are standard operating procedure, and their efficiencies in this and other green areas of production not only make for less work for the manufacturer, but also increase their environmentalstatus among their customers.

Quality, Above All Else
While they are highly sought after qualities, on-time delivery, cost savings and sustainability mean nothing if the finished product isn't high quality. The types of metals and materials used in today's building designs require the expertise and special handling of a coil coatings provider.

For instance, the trend toward lighter loads-for cost-effectiveness, but also for more contemporary, cutting-edge designs- has meant an increase in the use of aluminum,a durable metal that is also flexible enough for these design specs. However, aluminum is a relatively delicate material requiring special handling, particularly in forming, folding, slotting and embossing.

Similarly, the number and variety of coatings available require a highly specialized knowledge and expertise in their application: there's acrylic, silicone polyester, epoxy, vinyl, fluoropolymer, metallic fluoropolymer plastisol, urethane, and manual and solution strippablfilms. Knowing the benefits and features of each, as well as their properties and behaviors, is essential to the overall performance of the metal and the success of the building project as a whole.

Get Ready for Growth
As we continue to emerge from these unprecedented economic times, there is a feeling of optimism and quiet confidence that normally precedes a time of great growth. This is certainly true of those partners in the metal building construction supply chain. Those manufacturers and coil coaters that embrace a philosophy and a mindset that is focused on solutions will be well poised to grow their businesses no matter what the economic environment.

Jim Dockey is director of sales and marketing, CENTRIA Coating Services, and president of the National Coil Coatings Association.For more information about coil coatings for the metal construction industry, visit the National Coil Coatings Association at www.coilcoatinginstitute.org.