Case Study: Ultra Precision Intrinsically Safe Scales Utilized for Automotive Paints

CLIENT OVERVIEW

One of the world’s largest, premium electric vehicle manufactures produces their products in factories located on different continents across the world. The manufacturing process for a passenger car is very complex. It includes everything from the robotic welding of frames, to installation of seats, to proper assembly of door handles, and everything in between.

The finish of the outside of the vehicle is of very high importance, as it will give the first impressions to a prospective buyer. The paint must have the look and shine of a premium car. The color needs to be absolutely consistent, even if various panels were painted at different times and in different facilities.

As with any large manufacturing operation, there is constant monitoring of productivity, quality and efficiency. The amount of material used must be quantified for operational purposes, to determine when it must be replenished, and assess the efficiency of the process.

THE PROBLEM

The automotive painting process needs to be exceedingly well controlled. The coatings used for vehicles need to be aesthetically pleasing, with the color remaining extremely exact from batch to batch. They provide corrosion protection for the life of the car. They must be manufactured in production quantities. The material must be used efficiently, and the usage must be carefully monitored. Paints and solvents and the fumes they produce can be flammable, explosive, or otherwise deemed as hazardous. Any equipment used in the production process must be properly rated for those environments.

To summarize the issue, they needed a scale that:

  • Was extremely accurate.
  • Had a very high capacity
  • Could measure very low weight increments (ultra-high resolution)
  • Was able to export weight data to other sectors of the control system.
  • Was suitable for use in hazardous, or classified environments.

THE SOLUTION

To address the issues presented by this customer, we offered the customer’s painting operations Model S1000-XL. This scale is the largest available in Arlyn’s Ultra Precision Scale product line. This scale uses the same technology as employed in the rest of Arlyn’s Ultra Precision Scales, but they utilize very large load cells to accommodate even heavier loads. Using a proprietary Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) transducer, these scales provide more than 10 times better accuracy than any other scale in its price range. They are very rugged making them suitable for use in a high speed production line.

The painting area has exposure to flammable materials and fumes. This line of scales is rated as Intrinsically Safe for use in a wide range of hazardous environments. They may be safely used in many environments that require safety classifications.

The S1000-XL Intrinsically Safe Large Ultra Precision Scale met the customer’s requirements based on the following specifications:

  1. The S1000-XL has a capacity of 1000 lb, allowing it to accept heavy painting equipment and paint tanks.
  2. It is able to measure ultra low weight increments of just 0.01 lb (1/100 of a lb). That is a factor of 1:100,000 of full scale. This resolution is also 20x higher than most regular industrial strain gage weighing scales.
  3. The S1000-XL could also be equipped with a Zener Safety Barrier. This allows the weight data to be communicated out of the hazardous area. A module in the safe area can accept this data and forward it to other systems within the manufacturing facility, or using Arlyn’s AxChange software, even make it available in the Cloud. The amount of paint remaining can be monitored, and replenished as needed.

CONCLUSION

The production of battery powered electric vehicles presents a myriad of challenges. Arlyn’s Ultra Precision scales for hazardous locations was able to offer this manufacturer the only feasible solution to accurately formulate and dispense their automotive finishes onto their product. These scales provide a new, important tool to the automotive paint industry.