It’s no secret: I’m uptight about the powder coating production schedule.
Customers are often baffled by this. In their minds, batching one lawn chair in with a larger run of parts should be no big deal – and to a certain extent, that’s true. But there are complicating factors they haven’t considered.
Parts are batched by color AND substrate.
If we’re spraying black powder coating on Tuesday, I can’t just throw an aluminum part onto a cart full of steel and spray them all at once. Aluminum and steel are pretreated differently, meaning they must be pretreated at different times, on separate carts. This brings me to my next point.
We have a finite number of carts.
Cart logistics play a huge role in the production schedule. At any given time, my goal is to have one cart being loaded up, another cart being washed, another cart being sprayed, a couple of carts in the oven, and the last cart being packaged. And repeat. I can’t afford to tie up a cart with a single item, or production will stall.
A lot has to happen before the part gets coated.
Let’s say I plan to spray red powder coating on Friday at 2 PM. In order for parts to make it into that run, they need to be present, checked in, scheduled, blasted, hung, prepped, pretreated, and dried off. This can take days. Don’t expect to drop your part off at 8 AM for a 2 PM run the same day. It doesn’t work like that.
The volume is high, and the deadlines are non-negotiable.
On a normal day, there’s roughly a month’s worth of work sitting at Kaser, and an additional four to six weeks’ worth of work that I have been told is incoming. Each part has a deadline, most of them strict. I draft the production schedule weeks in advance, trying to anticipate down to the minute what we’ll be doing a month from Monday. As parts arrive (or fail to arrive), I make adjustments.
Side note – parts that don’t arrive on time are the bane of my existence. Even an hour’s delay can be catastrophic. If you’ve scheduled a delivery, please stick to the agreed-upon time. The whole day’s production depends on your parts being here when I expect them to be.
Scheduling feels a little like juggling twenty balls while walking on a tightrope in the dark. If I’m not cautious and precise, everything comes tumbling down.