Customised finishing plant sets industry standard as part of £3m sustainability upgrade

September 11, 2023

automated powder paint plant

A custom-built automated powder coating system has revolutionised production processes at Broxap Street Furniture as part of a £3m-plus sustainable manufacturing project.

The introduction of the system is the latest stage in a huge transformation project for the Staffordshire-based firm, which has seen it make sweeping changes to support a more sustainable operation.

The first of its kind in the country, the Eurotherm system is already being held up as an example of how manufacturing processes can be improved with the specialist technology. Eurotherm hopes to visit the installation with its partners and potential clients to see the machinery in action.

Incorporating a highly innovative pre-treatment stage, the £1.2m powder coating system will help Broxap reduce waste, save energy and lessen its environmental impact.

The system will also double the powder coating capacity at Broxap’s 125,000 sq ft North Staffordshire manufacturing facility, resulting in more competitive lead times and a superior product finish.

Matthew Miles, Manufacturing Director at Broxap, said: “Maintaining high standards in product quality while reducing the environmental impact of operations is a big challenge for manufacturers. At Broxap we have made a commitment to put sustainability at the heart of our operations and the new automated powder coating system is one of the most significant investments we have made to reduce our carbon footprint.

“The system not only respects the environment, it improves the quality and safety of working conditions for our production teams, delivers better flexibility for management and provides excellent results for customers.”

The ‘power and free’ system allows manual loading of products before they travel through the powder coating processing zones via an automatic overhead bi-rail conveyor. This option means the system can handle Broxap’s wide range of product shapes and sizes. It is capable of processing maximum component sizes of 5,500mm long x 1,050mm wide x 2,900mm high at a conveyor speed of 1m/minute and at component weights of up to 550kg.

The first stage involves a pre-treatment and washing tunnel, featuring the unique eco-friendly, durable PROTEX™ proprietary surface treatment.

This metal surface preparation treatment employs the chemistry of organic phosphorus compounds and is free of heavy metals. The nanocoating created by the process provides excellent adhesion for powder coating and achieves BS EN 13438:2013 compliance for superior levels of corrosion protection compared to conventional powder coating methods.

PROTEX™ offers resistance to natural weathering, humidity and SO2, as well as providing 750 hours of neutral salt spray protection, and 500 hours of acetic salt spray protection.

A reverse osmosis system purifies the rinse water. Utilising this technology reduces water consumption by up to 50% if compared to conventional zinc phosphate pre-treatment, generates no wastewater and does not create any toxic sludge. Using half the gas and electrical energy consumption of a zinc phosphate counterpart system it is also energy saving – in part due to the design of the drying and curing ovens that feature the latest burner technology and are built to retain optimum temperatures for longer and reduce heat loss.

Following this stage, products undergo a decorative colour coating process in a booth designed for quick cleaning and efficient colour changes, before entering the final drying and cooling phase.

Broxap has extended its production facility to make way for the new system and further work is underway to streamline operations to enable the business to respond to customer requirements more rapidly.

Matthew added: “Equipping our factory with smart technologies and innovative systems supports operational efficiency, reduced energy consumption and green energy production as we look to identify, and work towards, net zero targets and other environmental management objectives.

“These optimised methods also ensure our products last longer, offer supreme durability and lend themselves to remanufacturing and recycling to save on raw materials.

“These practices are becoming more important to sustainable manufacturing in the UK and we’re very proud to put ourselves at the forefront of change.”

Founded in 1946, Broxap is a market leader in the design, manufacture and installation of street furniture; seating; litter bins and recycling bins; bollards; canopies, shelters and covered walkways; cycle parking products; playground equipment and outdoor gym equipment.


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