Zinc-Phosphate Pretreatment System Helps Cleveland Parts Manufacturer Reduce Downtime, Operational Costs

Springco Metal Finishing was looking to increase corrosion resistance and decrease downtime for its automotive and heavy-duty equipment parts coating operation. So, the company turned to PPG for its zinc phosphate pretreatment system. The new solution has helped improve finish quality and on-time delivery.

Springco Metal Finishing, a large finisher of metal parts for the automotive, heavy-duty equipment and general industrial markets, was experiencing long downtimes and rising operational costs on its two e-coat lines due to accelerating dump cycles in its waste treatment process.

Springco approached PPG, which has provided the Cleveland-based manufacturer with e-coat, powder and pretreatment products since 1983 for a solution to these issues.

"PPG has always worked hand-in-hand with us to offer solutions and new products," said Jason Conn, vice president of Springco. "When we told our rep that we were experiencing rapid sludge development in our zinc-phosphate tank, he suggested we try the PPG VERSABOND® system, which performs at lower temperatures and produces less sludge as a result."

Working with Springco's commercial and technical teams to replace the standard zinc-phosphate chemicals they had been using, PPG began trialing its product on one of the company's two e-coat lines in April 2016.

After a successful one-week trial, the PPG Versabond system was approved for processing of automotive parts and steel wheels; then, after two months of positive feedback, it was launched on the company's second production line.

The Right Fit

Conn said the PPG Versabond rinse conditioner and zinc phosphate system is a good fit for Springco's productions lines because its liquid formulation performs more efficiently than the powder chemistry it replaced.

"Liquids are much easier to pump out and handle," he explained. "The product also creates zinc-phosphate crystals faster, so it is possible to increase line speeds and productivity. Operating at lower temperature also means shorter lead times to fire up the system."

Since switching to the PPG Versabond system, Springco has realized a variety of operational benefits, including lower application expenses, less down time for maintenance, fewer chemical dumps and a significant reduction in waste treatment costs.

"The change from our old system to the PPG Versabond system has allowed us to go from dumping every two weeks to dumping every six weeks," Conn explained. It also resolved quality issues tied to the corrosion resistance and physical performance of Springco's finished parts and improved the company's on-time delivery.

The company's line operators also report that the PPG Versabond system, which combines a new zinc-based rinse conditioner with a specially engineered zinc-phosphate concentrate, is easier to control than the standard zinc-phosphate system.

Several years after the initial trial on its smallest e-coat line, Springco continues to use the PPG Versabond system in all its pretreatment, electrocoat and powder coat finishes. More importantly, the four-decade-old company operates more efficiently and is even better equipped than it was before to meet the stringent specifications of its most demanding customers.

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