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Alstom Ferroviaria: the automotive industry and industrial painting at top speed

One of today’s crucial problems in industry is facing production peaks without having to cope with investments that could prove unsustainable in the long term. A recurrent situation in the automotive industry, constantly focused on the search for speed and production increase.
How can you speed up the industrial painting and paint curing steps impacting so heavily on production times?

Is it really possible to boost productivity by drastically reducing paint drying times, before facing huge costs in the implementation of new systems?

Below we will get to the heart of a real case, showing you how Movingfluid, commissioned by Alstom Ferroviaria and working jointly with the customer, managed to significantly curtail the industrial painting times for wagons. A result obtained by using infrared radiation curing in paint drying, a technology successfully applied to such large surfaces for the first time.
We will quantify the benefits of the solution in detail, in terms of time reduction and greater profit generated.

This successful challenge is intended to be a good omen for all those industries that find themselves in the difficult situation of having to manage space problems, while needing to boost productivity.
For all those tenacious entrepreneurs who want to satisfy the customer with excellent performance in terms of delivery times and quality, challenging an increasingly unstable and demanding market.

In Alstom’s case, with a plant that cannot be expanded further, it being located in an area of high urban density, the investment in a new paint furnace for trains would have also involved the construction of all the surrounding infrastructure. Buildings, transport lines, as well as the construction of the whole system for moving wagons from where they are painted to where they are used: an investment worth several million euros.

To streamline your production plant, invest in the time of a call!

 

The challenge launched by Alstom: industrial painting of wagons with drying in record time

With an annual turnover of about 8 billion euros, 8 production sites in Italy, 31 warehouses and 3200 employees, Alstom Ferroviaria is a brand of excellence for the Italian industry. Its product portfolio ranges from high-speed trains (subways, monorail vehicles, electric trams and buses) through to integrated systems, customised services, infrastructures, signalling and digital mobility solutions.

A brand that looks to the future by placing technology at the service of sustainability, as demonstrated by the project it is currently working on: the development of a hydrogen train, for finally green railway transport.

Alstom’s products include Italo high-speed carriages, regional trains for Trenitalia and those for Amtrak USA.

For Movingfluid, it was an honour to support Alstom and contribute to implementing a major production upgrade of the existing plant. An ambitious project which, as is often the case, posed a great challenge in terms of real feasibility.

These are the requests Alstom’s Purchasing Department approached us with, as experts in fluid handling:

  • Production increase. In other words, a solution designed to cure train paint in a short time after industrial painting. Final goal: to boost productivity by exploiting the furnace in use, thus avoiding the construction of a new plant, with all related implications.
    Specifically, the need to increase production capacity was referred to the industrial painting process of:
    Amtrak: painting colour: white and blue
    NTV ETR 675: painting colour: red and black
  • Skilled labour in the area Our customer made the explicit request of making use of Italian plant engineers based in the area. As is often the case, many foreign companies offer solutions whose implementation is then assigned to foreign workers or subcontractors based in the area concerned. The latter, lacking expertise in the sector and/or giving up responsibility for good end results as they work on behalf of third parties, often pose a further problem to the company.
    In the case under scrutiny, choosing professional collaborators, both from a design and a technical point of view, was a priority. As our structure is active throughout Italy, we can always be close to our customers, managing to solve “impossible mishaps” not only at an office level, but also on the construction site. Movingfluid plant engineers are indeed highly skilled in the assembly of furnace paint booths, with experts exclusively devoted to this activity.

train wagon during industrial painting phase

 

Handing over the baton to Movingfluid: towards the solution

Our engineering consultants joined Alstom’s Research and Development Department while a major thought was being taken into consideration. Having treated carriages in a Geico thermal convection furnace up to that point, Alstom was actually considering converting its hot air furnace to IR technology, in order to speed up the drying process. Paint curing with IR technology occurs by directly radiating the surface, while the traditional hot air furnace generates a curing process by heating the surrounding environment. Hence, greater inertia required to cool the carriage, and much longer times.

However, including the infrared treatment in the industrial painting process raised considerable doubts as to whether paint could be evenly cured. As a matter of fact, infrared technology had never been used on such large surfaces.
How could a result be guaranteed before starting to invest in that direction?

These are the starting points. The total time needed to go through the convection furnace for a carriage to be industrially painted was 100 hours, as detailed below for each step.

Traditional hot air convection furnace time, including flash off
Primer/Undercoat  8 H 60 °C
Transparent 8 H 25°C
Gloss enamel 8 H 40°C
Plaster 4 H 25°C
Extra drying before
packaging
  72 H 60°C

 

A surge in productivity exceeding expectations

To reduce paint drying time and increase productivity, Movingfluid installed 234 infrared lamps, with a total power demand of 800 Kw, mounted on frames inside the furnace structure.
A new dedicated Electrical Panel was created, with various underground installed lines branching off from it, for the workers to transit through easily and in total safety.
These lamps are controlled by a specific PLC managed based on advanced logics.

infrared lamps on and of for wagons curing

Our technical skills made it possible for us to prove the validity of the proposed solution through field tests.
After one day of trials and two weeks of laboratory tests – strictly carried out by an independent and certified company, chosen by the customer – the analysed samples were validated and declared fully satisfactory according to Alstom standards.


After converting the furnace and adopting IR technology for paint curing, this is the performance achieved showing a 12.5 shorter production time compared to a hot air convection furnace.

Targets achieved with IR
Primer/Undercoat From 15 min to max 1 H
Trasparent  From 30 min to max 2 H
Gloss enamel  From 30 min to max 2 H
Plaster     From 20 min to max 1.5 H
Extra drying before
packaging
Max 2 H

 

The total paint curing time for a carriage thereby decreased from 100 H to 8 H: practically just one day

For Movingfluid, another challenge successfully solved!

We specialise in fluid handling, industrial painting and surface treatmen
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All the advantages of the Movingfluid’s solution

  1. Increased production capacityThe solution put forward by Movingfluid by leveraging its masterful technical skills resulted in a curing time reduction for a carriage by 1150% (from 100 to 8 hours) with a consequent productivity boost.
    Not only that: thanks to the conversion of the existing paint furnace, Alstom was able to save on investments in new facilities, as well as avoiding the risks associated with them due to an irregular market trend, thus ensuring its customers continuity and excellence in service.
  2. Solution at no cost for the customer, subject to successful completion.The Movingfluid method is based on totally sharing the challenge to be faced with the customer and on continuous alignment work. For this reason, until the customer completely approves the proposed solution, the costs of the project are fully paid in advance by Movingfluid.
  3.  Optimisation of construction site times
    Alstom’s decision to make use of expert workers and qualified partners in the area, able to provide the most technologically advanced solutions, proved to be crucial. Not only because managing construction site activities proved to be effortless for the customer, but also for the ability of the Movingfluid team to effectively cope with the operational restrictions brought about by the pandemic. Production was indeed streamlined during the COVID-19 emergency. To keep the construction site open and complete the work on time, Movingfluid’s plant engineers were constantly and effectively in contact with Alstom’s HSE (Health, Safety & Environment) and with Turin’s and Cuneo’s prefects.
    Construction times thereby fell perfectly within Alstom’s only period of annual production downtime, lasting a total of three weeks, without implying any production stops.

The new infrared-ray wagon paint curing technology marked a turning point in Alstom’s production methodology, so much so that it led the Company to evaluate whether this solution could be extended to other European plants.

A further evidence of Alstom’s ability to always look ahead and overcome previous limits, in pursuit of ongoing improvement. To shape the future of mobility, but not only that.

If you have industrial fluids in your plant, your productivity can be improved.
How? Let’s find out together.

 

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