Jay Wills (“Wills” to his friends and colleagues) has been spraying powder coating for most of his adult life. He’s as close to being an expert as anyone can be in our field. Here’s a normal day in his life as a powder coater.
Consulting the Schedule
Wills starts his workday at 6:30, which means he’s onsite, settled in, and ready to go at that time. He starts by checking the production schedule. The schedule is my best approximation of the day Wills is about to have: if the parts are familiar and the color changes are few and far between, he’ll keep his finger on the trigger most of the day. In the event of rework or unforeseen circumstances, he and I will troubleshoot together.
Wills wears a full body TyVek suit. In addition to keeping powder off of his skin and clothes, the suit is easily swapped out during color changes, preventing cross contamination. Wills also wears a full-face respirator while spraying, hearing protection and safety glasses when using compressed air, and treaded work boots to keep from slipping on the powder-covered floor.
Reading the Work Orders
Work orders are a powder coater’s guide to life. Everything the operator needs to know about their next job – i.e., color, film thickness, number of coats, etc. – is laid out in black and white. However, the work order does no good if it is not followed. Wills knows that reading carefully will save him time in the long run.
On an ideal day, quality control is the only time that Wills takes off his respirator. He checks his own work with a flashlight before the parts go into the oven, and again with a film thickness gauge after they’ve cured.
On days with a lot of color changes, Wills might spend more time cleaning the booth than he does spraying parts. Powder gets everywhere – if he’s not meticulous, he’ll wind up with red particles in his white coating. Wills uses compressed air to blow powder toward the booth filters, and he keeps himself as clean as possible by changing suits and scrubbing his hands.
Wills and I are both happiest when he can spend eight hours spraying parts. The whole team works together to ensure that that can happen as often as possible.