As you may have heard, our [long awaited] blast and paint booths are finally here! We have been working hard to grow our painting and coating services at UPI, and these new facilities will give us the ability to do just that. Traditionally, all of our painting and coating has been done outside, in the upper yard. This created several serious challenges. First, our entire operation was at the mercy of Mother Nature. Painting and coating requires environmental conditions fall within very strict parameters. Ambient temperature, material temperature, humidity, dew point; they all must fall within acceptable limits, not just during, but after the products are applied, to ensure they perform as intended. For those who are familiar with northern Minnesota weather, you know what that means; about 6 days of painting every summer. Outside operations also posed challenges for physical space, as well as protection of assets from overspray. Our new facilities allow us the ability to paint or coat virtually 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, regardless of weather. This means we can bid, plan and execute our work much more consistently and reliably.
Located in the old “cold storage” building, the new blast and paint booths have been designed and installed to make the very most of that space, as well as maximize efficiency through the entire coating process. Each booth measures approximately 54’ long and 17’ wide. This gives us the space to coat virtually any configuration of piping that we might design. Basically, if we can ship it, we can coat it. The spray booth is fully automated and climate controlled. This gives us the ability to control the environment inside the booth to optimize the particular coating or painting system we are applying. It also has a curing cycle. Some paints or coatings cure faster at higher temperatures. For these systems, we can set the booth in ‘cure mode’ and raise the temperature inside the booth up to 140deg. This can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to cure some products. In some cases, what previously took 6-8 hours to cure may now only take 1.5-2 hours. All these features mean not only increased productivity, but higher product quality and a safer environment to do the work as well. The booth is equipped with 35 explosion proof LED lights, so no imperfection goes unnoticed. Air is also filtered coming in and leaving the booth, ensuring that no contaminants reach the painted surfaces, and all harmful overspray and fumes do not reach the environment.
Another notable change that comes with the addition of the booths is our primary switch to SPC (Specialty Polymer Coatings) brand of coating products. The new facility is outfitted with a brand new plural component spray system, which is set up to apply the SPC line of coating products. This is a change from the Denso products we traditionally utilized. The new SPC products have proven far superior to Denso for both ease of application as well as the quality of the finished product, so we are excited to continue offering them. UPI underwent a comprehensive review by SPC representatives here in our new facility. Our application procedure was reviewed, our equipment was inspected, and our applicators were reviewed. As a result, our facility, procedures and personnel have all been certified as Approved Applicators of SPC products.
I would like to thank everyone for their work in making this a success. It was truly a team effort; from our fitters running air and gas lines, to the hydrovac crews digging and locating for new facilities, the painters making sure the systems were designed and installed correctly, and of course our team of subcontractors; Jamar, Hunt, Viking, Twin City Garage Door, and JR Jensen. A special thanks to Matt Stuart for his leadership and ability to manage multiple demands during this time.