Assuming no previous finishing industry experience, all of my new hires start off learning the same thing: how to hang metal parts on carts.
Hanging parts is not as simple as it sounds. A lot can go wrong, resulting in serious injuries, inadequate pretreatment, and coating failures. Here’s where to start.
Gloves, safety glasses, and work boots are non-negotiable. Don’t get complacent – I’ve seen seasoned industry veterans be seriously injured by parts they’ve handled a thousand times before. Your safety depends on your vigilance.
Hanging parts requires mental math. You need to know how many parts you’re hanging (and their approximate weights) in order to determine how many hooks and cross bars to use. All parts should be hung in the same orientation, at equal distances from one another. Your goal is to ensure that the pretreatment and powder coating operators can spray the whole cart in smooth, repetitive motions, without having to alter their spray patterns for each part.
Start by hanging parts at the far end of the cart, and work toward your pallet. This prevents you from having to walk around what you’ve already hung, saving time and avoiding injury. Additionally, make sure that your hooks are sturdy enough to support the weight of the part (and any parts nested below it), while not being so big that they cause undue interference in the coating process.
Check your work.
Bear in mind that these carts – and everything on them – will go into the oven more than once. If the hooks are already showing signs of distress (i.e., splaying), the heat of the oven will only make it worse. Parts could fall off and be damaged. Make sure that the hooks you’re using are rated for the weight they’re bearing, and keep an eye out for signs of arching, stretching, splaying, and deformation.
Don’t think for a second that hanging parts is a lowly job. It is foundational to almost everything else that happens in the shop, and the stakes are high. Take pride in your work, and know that it takes a long time to develop good hanging instincts.