The Dirt about Paint
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The Dirt about Paint

David M M Gable

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  1. 224 pages
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

The Dirt about Paint

David M M Gable

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About This Book

This book provides the reader with a better understanding of running an automotive paint facility in a manufacturing setting. However, it also covers several chapters that will be useful in any job market. From managing people, managing time, working with unions, implementing disciplines of 5-S, lean manufacturing, building teams, and the breakdown of each paint production process. This book will not only help the countless managers and supervisors currently working within the paint automotive industry, but it will also be a guide to help the present and future managers on how to properly manage the business and become successful by implementing these proven techniques. This book was derived from twenty-seven years of experience that should be shared as a testament of how managers can avoid the common mistakes of managing people and processes and rise to the top of their careers by implementing the proven successes mentioned in this book.

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Year
2020
ISBN
9781647016104
Chapter 9
Proper Cleaning of Ovens
A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
—David Brinkley
So, you want a clean oven? Good call. But I doubt you really “want” to clean an oven. This is where the paint curing process takes place, and it is a process area that will contribute the most dirt defects—other than people dragging dirt into the system. We are going to be all over the spectrum on this subject. Most of what you will read in this chapter are actual events and conversations that will more than likely boggle your mind but also help you prevent bad things from happening to you when cleaning ovens. With that being said, I do not know of any paint system in North America that can produce the perfect cleaning environment to clean an oven. I am going to start with each system from the start of my career and explain the issues I encountered along the way. You will learn valuable lessons and hopefully some troubleshooting techniques that will help you in your career, wherever you may go or whatever position you rise to in the paint automotive industry.
This chapter will not cover every oven I have had the pleasure of troubleshooting, cleaning, or simply performing a walkthrough analysis. I am going to focus on the ovens that I think you will gain the most knowledge. I not only want you to learn to approach oven cleaning with your eyes wide-open but also like to give you the knowledge that these systems are unique and ambiguous at best. As you will learn throughout this book, there are proactive ways to reduce dirt in the paint system, and there are reactive methods that are not recommended to follow.
Buick City—or as I like to call it, “the best of the worst.” These ovens were, by far, the most neglected ovens that I had ever seen. For example, on the cooling tunnel cones, where the job comes out of the oven, there were at least a half an inch or greater dust piles on every cone. This would have been a thirty-minute job to clean, but the cleaning company that was in there did not know how to either schedule routine cleaning activities or follow up with the employees to ensure the area was clean. Or could it be that the union and the employees did not do their jobs as instructed and only worked three hours a shift, left the plant after completing only minimal amount of work, and were paid for the entire shift? The answer is…all the above. It is also the answer to the five-part question, Why did Buick City close?
The Problem
The ovens, including the cooling tunnels, had an eighth of an inch of sticky black plasticizer dripping from the ceilings. Normally, you will see this when cooler plant air or generated cooling air at the end of an oven meets the hot air coming out of the exit end of the oven, which, by the way, could mean you have an exhaust deficit. But this issue was on the oven ceiling, dripping onto the parts.
The Setup
One night comes to mind. Our task was to clean just the oven exit vestibule. Keep in mind this was my first paint shop and my first oven clean. The person who was supposedly my boss was to come in and show me what needed to be completed and how it was to be cleaned. I specifically asked for guidance because I was new and had the good sense to ask for help. However, she never showed up. The work crew reported to work at 10:30 p.m. (third shift) and assembled in the breakroom. I explained the task that we had to perform and told everyone to wait until I got to the work site to do a confined space air test and ensure lockout/tag-out procedures were in compliance. I was new to paint, but I had been working for over two years in a union environment at the foundry.
Unfortunately, my instructions were not followed. I had to take care of a few issues in the office before we started the work. Within ten minutes, someone came to my office and said, “We have an employee down.” Most of my employees graduated high school before I was born, so at first, I thought maybe he had a heart attack. I immediately called security. By the time I arrived at the scene, the employee was lying on the floor surrounded by the union representative, the safety representative, and all the employees. At first, all fingers were pointing toward me. It was then that I introduced the facts and the truth to everyone and explained that my instructions to everyone was, “Do not enter the oven until I got there.” Now keep in mind, this group was like a cult. If one lied, the rest would swear to it. Fortunately, I had another member of management witness me telling everyone not to start the job. Otherwise, it might have been my first and last attempted oven cleaning. Emphasis on attempted.
So, what happened? Do you remember me telling you that these employees only work a couple of hours a shift, leave the plant, and get paid for eight hours’ work? They were all in a hurry to get the job completed so they could be home in bed by 3:30 a.m. They went into an oven that was still over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The employee lying on the floor had zipper burns from his Tyvek suit on his chest (he wasn’t wearing a shirt) and stomach from the heat. Apparently, someone in maintenance was asked to reverse the negative air from the oven to become positive so it would soften the plasticizer on the ceiling, making it easier to scrape off the built-up plasticizer with putty knives. Again, here is that critical word that no one seems to find important—communication. The employees wanted to leave as soon as possible, so they disregarded safety procedures and went into the oven to begin scraping. As part of the investigation, we hung a thermometer in the oven, and within seconds the temperature climbed over 400 degrees. The employee went to the emergency room, with pay of course. But our sad little story does not end there.
Once the temperature of an oven is reduced to an approved working temperature (usually under 100 degrees), work could resume. However, if we waited until the oven cooled down, this would adversely affect the employee’s beauty sleep. We could not allow this to happen, apparently. It was then decided to move the job to the end of the oven where there was substantial plasticizer dripping on cured paint jobs coming out of the oven. It is important to point out a few factors about this part of the story. The work that was supposed to be performed in the oven tunnel was still an issue because the paint jobs were not completely cured as they passed by. It is more difficult to repair plasticizer that dripped in wet paint than it is to wipe off plasticizer on dry or cured paint.
Here is what was more shocking to me, and you will need to visualize this; the ceiling was a series of panels. I am guessing the ceiling panels are four-foot-by-eight-foot panels and approximately twelve panels in total. The job of third shift that night was to scrape only two panels. Yes, I can tell from the look on your face right now, you are as surprised as I was. Scrape two panels and then go home. Meanwhile, back in the oven on Monday morning, there was still a steady stream of plasticizer dripping on painted, uncured paint jobs. This of course required a more in-depth repair process to fix the issue. But it only required time and extra money. No problems there.
On with the “New” Task at Hand
The employees took a hand sprayer full of chemicals (most likely an oven cleaner) and sprayed it on the ceiling and walls. They waited for about an hour and commenced to washing it off with high-pressure fire hose. This took about another hour. They cleaned up the floor with wet vacuums and mops, picked up all the equipment, and went home for the night at 4:00 a.m. But wait, the story still has not ended. And I can assure you it does not have a happy ending.
Monday morning, my (absent) supervisor’s boss asked me to follow him downstairs to the assembly line floor. To my surprise, it was to tear me a new one because all the water and oven cleaner that was not cleaned up on Saturday night dripped down onto five new vehicles on the assembly line that had to be trashed because of the damage to the paint job. The worst part was, GM would not allow me to discipline the employees for violation of safety procedures or for not covering the vehicles, which the employees knew had to be done prior to cleaning the oven. I should also mention my boss, who was AWOL and did not come in to train me how to do the job, nor to follow up with me to see how the job went. This is a good time to tell you that life, as you know it, is not fair. Just keep pushing on.
Recap
  • Sometimes you do not always have control, but document everything.
  • Safety first is always the most important part of the job. It is your responsibility 100 percent of the time.
  • Follow-up is paramount to your success. Always check what is below and above the work you are performing. Take nothing for granted.
  • Do not work for people who are incompetent, and do not do their job. They can have an adverse effect on your career. Again, document everything.
  • Have written instructions on how to perform every job, review with all employees, and ensure the job is signed off and the job was correctly executed. We did not have this in place. The customer paid the price.
  • Do not rely on employees to tell you how to do a job; know the job task and own it. I did not know how to clean an oven at one time. I had no one to train me. I communicated this fact to upper management, and it was ignored. Never again. Learn the process to eliminate potential failure.
A New Paint System: A Better Idea
Ford Michigan Truck. A new paint shop and new problems. The comparison from coming from an old, antiquated paint shop to a brand-new paint shop was not as exciting as one might think. Yes, it was new and had many advantages compared to an old paint shop. The design was an improvement, but came with new problems, or should we say, “opportunities”?
The new paint shop color ovens had to be swept daily. Every night after production went down, the ovens had to be shut down and the entire oven had to be swept with brooms. I then had the employees wrap tack rags around the brooms to cover the bristles and then retack the floor with only lint-free tack rags on a doodle bug. A doodle bug, for those of you who are raising your eyebrows and saying, “What the heck is a doodle bug?” is a rectangular plastic tool that has tiny little spikes on the bottom to hold doodle bug pads. There is a threaded swivel on the end of the doodle bug holder to attach to an extension pole so you...

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