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Author Archives: CraigLawrence

  1. ECOAT24

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    I am thankful for everyone that stopped by our exhibit table at #ECOAT24.  We are looking forward to partnering with you for your next industrial paint finishing project.  Contact HERR for small upgrades, to full system automation.  We are experienced with powder, liquid, fluidized beds and electrocoating.

    HERR Industrial, Inc. is a design-build manufacturer, of industrial paint finishing systems and equipment.  HERR’s in-house personnel engineer, fabricate and install the equipment, including; conveyors, spray washers, booths, ovens, environmental rooms, etc…

    #FinishingSystems #Electrocoating #PaintFinishingSystems

  2. Powder Coating System requiring environmental compliance

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    Case Study for Powder Coating System requiring environmental compliance

    Ithica, NY – A manufacturer of steel bed frames was planning a generational transition that included moving to the Finger Lakes Region of New York.  The challenge was compliance with the environmental regulations in such a pristine area.

    HERR Industrial, Inc., was responsible for the design, manufacture, and installation of a powder coating system.  The process scope included: loading parts on an overhead conveyor, pretreatment in a two-stage spray washer, drying in a convection dry-off oven, coating in a powder booth and then curing in a convection cure oven, and cooling before being manually unloaded.

    Compliance with the environmental regulations was met using heat recovery to evaporate the overflow from the washer.  A PAC column heat exchanger with stainless steel media used the heated oven exhaust and counter-flow of wastewater.  The solution resulted in no discharge fines and energy savings.


    The following equipment was incorporated into the design of the powder coating system.  The line speed was 5 fpm and the part size was 2’wide x 6’high x 3’long.

    • Enclosed Track Overhead Conveyor
    • Three (3) Stage Spray Washer with water heating system
    • Exhaust Heat Recovery wastewater discharge evaporator
    • Combination Dry-off and Cure Oven, Convection forced air
    • Environmental Room with air conditioning
    • Installation of customer supplied powder booth
    • Cooling Tunnel
  3. Is your dip tank designed for the chemistry’s PH?

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    When designing a dip tank for a paint finishing system there are many specifications required; such as the type of conveyor, floor space, part size, production rate, dwell time, chemistry temperature, chemistry PH, etc…  The topic for this discussion is the material chosen to fabricate the tank.  In general, most tanks are fabricated with 304 stainless steel for corrosion resistance and strength characteristics; to hold weight of the chemistry, to support an overhead conveyor and/or housing, and to remain functional if a part would happen to fall off the conveyor.

    In general, when the chemistry is a PH of 3 or less, 316L (low carbon) stainless steel and 316L welding wire must be used, otherwise leaks will occur.  It is always best to consult with the chemical supplier for their recommendations.  The fabrication process must include dye penetrant testing for all welds.  At HERR we also include a full tank water test to check for leaks.  We have many years of experience fabricating custom tanks for pretreatment, pickling, dipping and electrocoating systems.  The tank pictured measures 8’w x 8’h x 48’l and fabricated with ¼” 316L stainless steel.

    HERR Industrial, Inc. is a design-build manufacturer, of industrial paint finishing systems and equipment. Our systems are customized to meet the specific requirements of your product, production rate and process.  For your next dip tank project, contact HERR Industrial for custom design, fabrication and installation.

  4. HERR Industrial Promotes Sales Manager

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    HERR Industrial, Inc., a design-build manufacturer of industrial paint finishing systems and equipment, has promoted Craig Lawrence to the position of Sales Manager.  Craig has been a Sales Engineer with HERR for the past 5 years, designing paint finishing systems for national and international customers.  He has experience with powder coating, liquid coating and electrocoating systems.  He came to HERR with over 15 years of industrial sales experience, in roles including Senior Business Development Manager and outside sales.  He excelled at finding custom services and solutions that matched his customers’ needs; with capabilities that included power transmission, hydraulic, pneumatic, material handling, automation and reliability services.  Craig attended Penn State University for Mechanical Engineering Technology.

    Contact HERR Industrial for your next paint finishing system at (800) 700-HERR (4377).

  5. Wastewater Evaporator

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    HERR installed an 80 GPH Evaporator to reduce the amount of wastewater going to drain from a 5-stage pretreatment washer serving a powder coating system.  The wastewater is first neutralized in a holding tank, then pumped to a water heating tank.  The heated water is sprayed into an airstream, in turn heating the airstream.  The warmer the airstream, the more water volume it can hold.  The humid air passes through mist eliminators, so large droplets are returned to the heating tank and re-sprayed.  The humid air continues to travel through the exhaust duct to the atmosphere.

     HERR Industrial, Inc. is a design-build manufacturer, of industrial paint finishing systems and equipment.  Our systems are customized to meet the specific requirements of your product, production rate and process.

  6. How To Select a Paint System Contractor-Part II

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    By Chris Herr, HERR Industrial, Inc.


    This two-part series is a guide for manufacturers and custom coaters on how to select a contractor to supply and install a powder coat system.  Part I covers preparing specifications and evaluating bids.  Part II covers qualifying bids from contractors.  The article lists information the owner should provide to the contractor and the contractor should provide to the owner, to get the most suitable powder coat system for the application.


    Today’s finishing environment is one of rapid change in response to performance improvement, cost reduction and environmental concerns.  Today’s manufacturing engineer is encouraged to develop a team approach to paint system construction.  The system supplier will become an integral member of the paint system team, joining the engineer and his coating, chemical and special equipment suppliers and consultants.


    The need for a new or upgraded paint system can be an effort to meet any number of goals but most typically; a desire to increase production, the start-up of a new plant or introduction of a new product, a desire to improve finish quality, a response to environmental regulation or replacement of old equipment.  Whether new or upgraded, a paint system project represents a major capital investment and a difficult exercise to integrate with ongoing manufacturing operations.   Careful evaluation and planning of the process and thorough investigation of the suppliers will assure that the project will go as smoothly as possible and meet project goals.


    Construction of a new paint system involves the following four basic steps or phases.   The entire process can take from several months to well over a year to complete and care should be taken to allow enough time so as not to rush the process.

    • Development of the Process and System Concept
    • Procurement of the System
    • Construction of the System
    • Testing, Training and Commissioning of the System


    The first step, the development of the process and system concept, begins by identifying the paint performance requirements and investigating the possible process methods available to meet that performance.  Paint and chemical suppliers are an integral part of this effort and couple their knowledge of the owner’s operation and product with the technical attributes of the available processes and relative advantages and disadvantages.  Testing during this phase of the project will determine the efficacy of the various processes examined.  Also during this phase, the owner or their material suppliers may involve a “systems house” or systems consultant to develop budgetary costs and a physical layout of the various process options.  A “systems house” is a company that designs and builds the paint system by fabricating and integrating equipment manufactured by others to meet the process goals.


    Also during this first phase of the project, the project administration method should be determined.  The typical project structure takes one of the three following approaches:

    • Turnkey
    • Modified Turnkey
    • Owner Built


    Turnkey and modified turnkey are the most common approaches to paint system construction, especially today when downsizing has reduced the number of plant engineering personnel available to design and manage large capital projects. Essentially “design-build”, the turnkey concept can encourage the involvement of a systems house or contractor at an earlier stage to help with specification preparation, hanging arrangement, production estimates, budgetary costs, etc.


    A true turnkey approach has the system supplier responsible for all aspects of the project including; design, fabrication and integration of all the process equipment, installation of the equipment, including utilities to source and building modifications, start-up and training.  Additional services may include completion of permits and financing.


    Modified turnkey is similar to turnkey but involves the owner purchasing one or more pieces of the equipment or services outside the systems house contract, typically large single items such as a powder booth, as well as building modifications or construction and utilities from the building source to the equipment.  The owner’s decision to furnish equipment or services must be carefully considered and is usually based upon an effort to save money or compress project schedules.  The risks that the owner will face by supplying the equipment or service can usually be easily identified, however, the cost of these risks is not.  If the owner-supplied equipment is not delivered on time or to specifications the potential for a claim by the contractor for interrupted or delayed work is high.


    Owner constructed projects involve the owner designing the basic system concept themselves or hiring an engineering consultant to design the project and prepare specifications.  The owner then purchases individual equipment components and utilizes a mixture of maintenance personnel and local contractors to install the equipment.  Professional project managers or paint system consultants are many times contracted for a percentage of the capital cost to oversee the project management aspects.


    The selection of an approach depends upon the relative risk the owner wants to accept. Turnkey or modified turnkey approaches have the advantage of; preserving the owner’s personnel time and resources, providing a high degree of project coordination and limiting “finger pointing” between project entities.  These approaches pass the least liability along to the owner, however, they usually present the highest cost.  Owner constructed projects can save capital cost but represent the highest degree of liability although headaches can be avoided if a project manager or consultant is employed to oversee the project and act as the owner’s agent.  Most liability for owner-constructed projects primarily comes from mistakes arising from inexperience with paint system construction and unfamiliarity of the installation contractors with the equipment.


    With any of the approaches, the best installation is achieved when the supplier installs the equipment with their own employees, familiar, experienced and trained to field install the specific equipment being installed.  It is also important that the crew be dedicated and used to working in the field, if a crew is pulled from the shop, most are not used to being on the road and may be in a hurry to complete the job and tempted to take shortcuts.


    The second step to construct a paint system is the procurement process.  The procurement process can be broken into four basic steps and the information that must be gathered to procure the system is the focus of this paper.

    • Qualifying Bidders
    • Preparing Specifications
    • Evaluation Bids
    • Selecting the Bidder and Awarding of the Contract


    The required information, while far from inclusive, is presented in the format of a series of questions and intended to serve as a “springboard” for ideas and a “checklist” of items to consider and add to when purchasing a paint system.



    System houses or installation contractors should be pre-qualified prior to soliciting bids for the project.  The contractors should be experienced with the system type, have a strong focus in mechanical contracting, be financially and organizationally solid, and match the owner’s expectations for quality, safety and operational efficiency.  If a turnkey approach is used, the design and fabrication capabilities and experience will also have to be evaluated.


    A field of approximately six bidders should be peer-qualified with a goal to shortlist the field to three for bidding purposes.  Too few bidders may result in a less than competitive price; too many bidders confuse the process and waste the owner’s and bidder’s time and resources.  A quick word of mouth check with paint and chemical suppliers as well as a web site visit can help choose bidders to pre-qualify based on the expected project budget and process complexity.  The short-listed bidders should be comparable to each other, have a size and experience matched to the project scope and budget and able to meet the owner’s expectations with regard to workmanship, safety, professionalism, and understanding of the owner’s operations.


    To pre-qualify bidders, a questionnaire or comparison spreadsheet can be formulated to gather the information in the areas listed below.  Examples of questions that may be posed have been provided covering; Organization, Experience, General Capabilities, Project Management Capabilities, Fabrication Capabilities, Installation Capabilities, Service Capabilities, Training, Safety, Insurance, Warranty, Financial, References and Site Visits and Additional Information.



    The contractor’s organization should match the scope of the project and the owner’s infrastructure requirements.  Too small of an organization and the project may suffer from a lack of resources or overwhelm the contractor with detail.  Too large of a contractor and the possibility arises that the project will take a low priority to larger, higher risk projects and less experienced personnel will be assigned to the project.   It is also important to determine the relative risk that may be present in dealing with the contractor, have they gone out of business before and reorganized, etc.

    • List website address and business headquarters address, how many years at this location?
    • How is the company structured, for example; C-corporation, S-corporation, LLC, LLP, sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.
    • Is the bidder owned or controlled by another firm and, if so, the owner’s name, address and telephone number.
    • How many employees are in the company and how are they distributed (e.g. sales, engineering, fabrication, installation, service, etc.)
    • How long has your company been in business under the current name?
    • Under what other or former names has organization operated?
    • Is the company bonded?
    • Provide a description of typical project flow through the organization and identify the staff involved and how they interact.
    • List background of staff to be assigned to the project, including number of years with the company and a brief scope of previous projects worked on for the company.
    • Describe the quality assurance and continuous improvement programs.


    Experience and Design Capabilities

    The contractor ‘s experience should include projects similar in nature or scope to that being proposed.  The depth of experience with different types of systems should also be examined to limit the possibility that the contractor will try to “shoehorn” the system into their particular specialty rather than the best concept or equipment.

    • What are your core competencies and capabilities?
    • What do you consider the strong points for your company?
    • What do you consider the strong points for your system installations?
    • What is your typical project size in dollars, time, and resources? 
    • What is the least expensive and most expensive systems built within the past five years.
    • How many similar systems have you installed?
    • How diverse is the contractor’s experience, please provide a list and description of systems built within the past five years including at a minimum a description of the product being finished, the equipment included, and date of the system’s start-up.
    • How much engineering is conducted in-house, how much is subcontracted?
    • How familiar is the contractor with the environmental issues faced by paint systems?


    Project Management Capabilities

    The contractor’s project management capabilities are important to assure that the project is completed in an orderly and timely fashion.  The project manager’s typical responsibilities include acting as the primary contact for the contractor, preparing and updating the project schedule, overseeing the contractor’s personnel and subcontractors for quality of workmanship and adherence to specifications, fielding and resolving any questions or concerns the owner may have regarding the project, processing change orders and preparing progress reports.  Having the same project manager involved from the beginning to end of the project, and, responsible for all aspects of the project, is the best option to maintain project continuity.

    • Is a project manager assigned to the project that provides a single point of contact?
    • What type of scheduling methodology and/or software is used?
    • How are system design changes handled?
    • How is the project progress documented?  Is a daily log of activities and problems kept?
    • How frequently will the project manager be on site during the installation of the system?
    • How often are progress meetings held?


    Fabrication Capabilities

    A paint system involves a varied array of equipment, not all of which will be manufactured by the contractor.  The owner should ascertain what equipment is designed and built by the contractor and what equipment will be outsourced.  The more equipment that is outsourced presents challenges to maintain project control by the contractor.  In-house fabrication capabilities also permits timely delivery of equipment or material resulting from the all too often changes or damage encountered during the course of the project.

    • What components of paint systems do you actually manufacture and what is subcontracted?
    • Where is your manufacturing facility located and what equipment is available?


    Installation Capabilities

    Top quality installation is important to the eventual success of the system to meet the intended process.  You can have the best equipment available, but if sloppy installation procedures are followed, if corners are cut, if the proper tools are not used, the equipment may not function properly, may require additional maintenance or may prematurely wear out.  You can buy the best equipment but if the workmanship is poor, if the contractor has the wrong tools, if the contractor is unfamiliar with the equipment, you, as the owner, will suffer the consequences for a long time.  Many installation shortcuts are not known for years and can cause problems expensive to correct.


    The best option is to select a contractor that installs the equipment with their own, experienced mechanical and electrical field personnel.  Project control is the greatest when the personnel are familiar, motivated and trained with the equipment being installed, there will be no “finger pointing”.  The crews should be dedicated to installation and consist of trades such as millwrights, electricians, pipefitters, welders and riggers. They should be accustomed to working away from home and not be shop personnel temporarily reassigned.  If the crews are “in a hurry” to get home, workmanship can suffer.  The crews should be outfitted with the proper and adequate number of tools, inadequate tools will lead to shoddy construction and an extended timeframe.

    • Do you use your own people for installation?
    • In what areas do you not use your own people during installation?
    • What tools do they have?
    • What licenses does your installation crew carry?


    The owner should be aware of the licenses required to construct the project to avoid possible project delays if the project is started without proper licensing.  If possible, the state’s web site should be consulted to establish what licenses apply as well as to check that the contractor’s license is current.  In some instances, licenses may be required for only a certain portion of the project.  In addition, the local municipality should be consulted regarding licensing requirements above and beyond the state.


    Service Capabilities

    Timely and experienced service after the sale is important to properly inspect and preventatively maintain the equipment.  Production downtime can quickly eat into the owner’s profits.   The following questions should be asked regarding the service capabilities.

    • Do you have a service department?
    • Do you offer a service agreement, if so what does it cover?
    • What diagnostic tools do the service department utilize?
    • Where are support personnel located?
    • How long would the typical response time be in the event of an emergency?
    • Are PLC controls supported with by an in-house programmer?
    • What are your normal business hours?  Is there a 24 hour emergency service phone line?



    How well training is provided will determine how quickly the system will reach its full potential and how quickly problems can be diagnosed and resolved.  Having a thorough understanding of the system will also allow the operator to know the system limitations as well as how to adjust and adapt it to new processes.  The training should begin early in the project with operator site visits to similar facilities.  Training should continue with observation and discussion during installation to familiarize the maintenance personnel with construction details hidden in the final product.  Working side by side with the start-up technicians will provide invaluable experience with troubleshooting procedures.  After start-up, formal training on the equipment should be conducted using the operations and maintenance (O&M) manual as a syllabus.  Paint, chemical, and special equipment vendors should be included as part of the formal training process.  Here is the primary question to ask the contractors:

    • Do you offer a training program?  If so, describe in detail, including materials provided, when training occurs and how many days of formal training are included.



    In today’s litigious business environment, you can’t assume that the contractor will be solely responsible in the event someone is harmed during the course of the project.  In addition to verifying insurance policies are in effect, the owner must ascertain that the contractor has an active and adequate safety program.  The following information can serve as a guide as what should be gathered as a minimum:

    ·       Can a copy of their safety program and policy be provided?

    ·       What is their safety record for the past five (5) years including an enumeration of; total hours worked, total recordable injuries, number of cases requiring medical treatment, number of lost workdays and number of restricted workdays?

    ·       What is their “Experience Modifier?”


    The Experience Modifier is a number assigned to the contractor by the state in which they do business that helps reveal the relative safety record of the contractor.  The rating typically ranges from 0.6 to 1.6 and is determined by a somewhat complex formula that combines the contractor’s payroll figures with the amount of losses, usually over a three year period.  A rating of 1.0 or lower indicates an above average safety performance.



    Insurance requirements will be an extremely important part of the project specifications and serve to protect the owner and owner’s investment.  The types and amounts are discussed later under the specification preparation section of this paper.  The contractor should asked the following:

    • Who is insurance underwriter?
    • What policies are in effect and in what amounts?
    • Is an insurance certificate available?



    Warranties can vary widely between vendors.  Most cover workmanship only with the repair or replacement at the contractor’s discretion, labor and shipping to do the repairs are not generally included.   Most warranty periods are for one to two years and some can be extended.  The warranty description should be detailed with what it includes and does not include.  A simple statement that the equipment is warranted is meaningless.  The following questions should be asked during contractor qualification.

    • What does the Warranty cover?
    • How are Warranty claims processed?
    • Who is responsible for Warranty of purchased parts?
    • What is the size of your repair parts inventory? Location?
    • What spare parts inventory do you recommend the Tenant have on hand?
    • What is the dollar value of that inventory?



    Financial stability of the contractor is important to insure that the contractor will be able to meet all their obligations during the project construction, during the warranty period and for years to come with respect to service, upgrade and spare parts.  The contractor should have a proper financial accounting system and good managerial know-how of the financial aspects of their business.  A full reporting of the contractor’s financial status can be collected with the following questions:

    • Can a confidential financial report be provided that covers the most recent fiscal year and includes a balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, list of corporate debt, gross revenue, gross margin and profit/loss statement?
    • What is the Dunn and Bradstreet (D&B) account number?
    • Can the contractor provide a bond, and if so, what is the bond rate schedule?


    Performance bonds are insurance policies that cover the owner in the event the contractor goes out of business or otherwise fails to complete the project contract.  The ability to get bonding is important because it is based upon prior project performance and current financial history.  Similarly, the bonding rate is based upon the bond company’s evaluation of the relative risk the contractor may default on the contract.  The cost of the bond will be passed along in the contractor’s proposal.


    References and Site Visits

    A list of all completed projects for the previous five or more years should be requested.  A short description of the scope of work should be included as well as a description of the product, project goal(s), approximate cost and contact person.   The list should be evaluated for diversity of projects, similarity to the owner’s project and similarity of process or product.

    As the saying goes, “the proof of the pudding is in the tasting” and it cannot be more true when considering a paint system contractor.  During the pre-qualification stage, you should a request visit to previous projects similar to that planned for your facility.  The visit should include a tour with the contractor’s personnel to review process and construction features of the system, but should also include time with the system owner away from the contractor’s personnel for an “unbiased” opinion.


    The reference contacts should be interviewed with the following questions:

    • Were you satisfied with the overall performance?
    • Would you hire the contractor again?
    • Have you used the contractor on more than one project?
    • Were there any changes were made during the course of the project? 
    • What were the changes and how were they handled?
    • Did you feel comfortable with the charges?
    • Were there any disputes on the project and if so, what were they and how were they resolved?
    • Was the project completed on time?
    • Was the site kept clean and orderly?
    • Were the contractor’s personnel professional, courteous?  Did they respect all site rules?
    • How would you rate the quality of the work?
    • How well did the contractor communicate with the owner?
    • Did the contractor provide adequate training?
    • Did you believe you received good value for the monies spent?
    • What was their return on investment (ROI) goals and were they met?
    • What is the reject rate and is it correlated to the equipment design?
    • What would they do differently the next time?
    • Do they consider system maintenance and service normal?
    • How has the contractor’s service personnel performed?


    In addition to contractor-provided references, agencies such as the state Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau can also be consulted for any current or history of litigation or dissatisfied customers.   Also, trade organizations such as the Powder Coating Institute, Electrocoat Association, or the Chemical Coaters Association can be contacted for references.



    Chris Herr is the Sales Manager for Herr Industrial, Inc., an industrial paint systems house and mechanical contractor located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Prior to beginning work at Herr in 1992 as an application engineer, Chris spent 15 years in the environmental science and research fields and holds a B.S. degree from the College of FWR at the University of Idaho.  Chris became the Product Line Manager for finishing systems at Herr in 1996 and is responsible to oversee sales, conceptual designs, and estimating.  He is a member of SME, CCAI and the Electrocoat Association.

  7. How to Select a Paint System Contractor-Part I

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    By Chris Herr, HERR Industrial, Inc.


    This two-part series is a guide for manufacturers and custom coaters on how to select a contractor to supply and install a powder coat system.  Part I covers preparing specifications and evaluating bids.  Part II will cover qualifying bids from contractors.  The article lists information the owner should provide to the contractor and the contractor should provide to the owner, to get the most suitable powder coat system for the application.



    Preparation of detailed specifications for a system may seem complicated and cumbersome, however, the specifications help assure a certain level of workmanship will be provided and that an “apples to apples” comparison between bidders will be easier.  The specifications also establish the background and minimum requirements for the system and will be included in the eventual contract documents.  The specifications should be concise, clear, easily understood by everyone and applicable to the project.


    Specifications for the bid package can be divided into four basic sections; however, the specifications can be altered in any fashion to meet the specific project scope.

    • Scope of Work
    • Instructions to Bidders
    • Technical Specifications
    • General Specifications


    Scope of Work

    The Scope of Work should serve as the introduction to the project and provide the contractor with the goals and background for the project as well as a general description of the equipment and services the contractor is required to supply.  The scope should also explain the project goals and develop the design basis for the system.  The design basis is illustrated by what we call the “5-P’s”, Product, Production, Paint, Process and Plant. When establishing the values for the “5 P’s”, the existing operations should be examined but flexibility must be included to allow expansion and adaptation to future changes.



    A full description of the product(s) to be painted should be provided to the paint system contractor.  The information should include dimensions of not only the largest part but also as many of the parts as information is available for.  The material handling (i.e. hanging) arrangement will dictate the length, width (perpendicular to conveyor travel) and height of the part.  The material handling arrangement is determined by the part morphology with respect to product balance and presentation to the process, e.g., exposure to washer nozzles, paint guns, infra-red emitters or blasting equipment and minimizing water carrying or, conversely, air entrapment with dip processes.  The part size is one third of the determining factor of the eventual equipment size and will dictate parameters that include but are not limited to; product centers (part density), conveyor turn radius, opening dimensions, number of nozzles in the washer, washer drain lengths, clearances with the oven(s), paint booth size and resulting air flow, etc.  Answers to the following questions should be prepared related to the product description.

    • What are the dimensions for the largest to smallest parts?
    • How much do the parts weigh?
    • Will the parts be handled individually or collectively on a rack or in a basket?
    • Are catalog cut sheets or shop drawings available to include in the specifications?
    • Does the part morphology present concerns for the process?



    Production rates are based upon the part quantity, weight, and/or area per some time period such as an hour, shift, day, etc.  The production rate is the second third factor determining the equipment size by combining the process time required. In a conveyorized system, the production rate multiplied by the product centers will provide the conveyor speed (feet per minute).

    • How many parts are produced per hour/day/week/year?
    • How many hours are worked per day, week, year?
    • What is the production rate in pounds per hour? Square feet per hour?
    • Is the production rate uniform with respect to time or must it be done in batches to meet other manufacturing or shipping processes?



    The third “P” stands for the type of paint to be used as determined by the performance requirements of the product.

    • What type of paint will be used to meet the performance requirements?
    • Does the entire part need to be coated?
    • Are all surfaces the same classification, e.g., A, B, C?
    • What are the salt spray, cross-hatch adhesion, hardness, gloss or other performance requirements?
    • What is the coating thickness?
    • Is the paint thickness for coverage only or does it have functional aspects?
    • How many colors and, if multiple colors, how often will the colors be changed?
    • What is the estimated paint application rate, e.g. gallons per hour, etc.?



    The coating processes, or fourth “P”, are the steps required to successfully meet the paint performance requirements.  The process is typically determined jointly by the owner and suppliers for paint, chemicals and equipment and identifies the times, temperatures, humidity and other conditions that must be met.  Although the process can be widely varied, it typically includes but is not limited to, chemical and/or physical treatment of the product surface to clean it and create a profile to enhance paint adhesion, drying, paint application, curing, cooling, pollution abatement, etc. The process times is the third factor that in concert with the production rate and product determine the equipment size, the system layout and eventually the cost.

    • What is the surface preparation process?
    • Is drying required?
    • Is pre-heating or de-gassing required?
    • How is the powder applied?
    • What are the special application conditions. e.g. temperature, humidity, etc.
    • How quickly should the product transfer from application to cure?



    The fifth and final “P” is the plant or physical area that will be utilized to house the system.  This information must be gathered and transferred to the contractor to determine a system layout and configure the equipment as well as plan the specifics of system installation.

    • What utilities (gas, electric, compressed air, water, steam, sewer, etc.) are available for the system and what are the ratings and locations?
    • What is the clear height from the floor to the ceiling available? What obstructions are present?
    • What floor area is available for the system?
    • Are there up to date and scalable building and property drawings available?
    • Where is the product flow coming from and where is it going to after the paint system?
    • Can equipment be placed on the roof or outside the building?
    • How are the roof and walls constructed? Does a roofing company bond the roof?  How must openings be constructed?
    • Can the building frame support equipment, e.g. conveyor, air houses, ovens, etc.?
    • How is the floor constructed? Can pits be constructed?
    • What insurance requirements must be met for the system, e.g. FM, IRI, etc.
    • What type of fire protection is required? Are there firewalls present that may need to be breached?
    • What are the air and wastewater discharge requirements?
    • Is there clear access to the system site? What size are the doors and aisles? Are there ramps or docks?
    • Must the system be protected from adjacent processes or segregated to protect the adjacent processes?


    Instructions to Bidders

    The instructions to bidders simply answers the “who, where, when, and how” the bids should be prepared to permit you as the owner to ensure that you can see if they meet the scope of work and can compare between proposals.  The instructions should include the following:

    • Who should be contacted? What is their mailing address, e-mail, phone, fax, etc.?
    • How should the bid be formatted or structured? 
    • How much detail should be provided?
    • How should pricing should be itemized and presented?
    • How many copies should be submitted?
    • How should “exceptions to the bid” be presented?  We recommend that the bidders follow the specifications but offer exceptions that can result in process improvement or cost savings.  All exceptions should be clearly and separately listed.
    • What is the schedule for site visits, bid meetings, bid due date, etc.?
    • How are questions to be handled, addenda incorporated, bids withdrawn, etc.?
    • What are the requirements for information confidentiality and instructions for the use and return of drawings, specifications, design information, etc?
    • How should arrangements be made for a site investigation?  We highly recommend a requirement for a site visit by the contractor’s project management and/or installation personnel.


    Technical Specifications

    The technical specifications provide the information on the specific equipment to be incorporated into the system.   They should be detailed to the process requirements but general enough to allow suppliers to provide their standard designs and work methods.  Doing so shifts some of the liability for the design and workmanship to the “experts” supplying the equipment.    For example, a pump for a spray washer should be specified as a “vertical style, stainless steel pump rated to provide 20 psi at a flow rate that will turn the tank over 3 times per minute” rather than calling out the pump as a “4 x 5 x 10 SEL pump with a 10 hp”. The pump selection may be correct based upon the owner’s understanding of a sizing formula that incorporates the stage length, number of nozzles, nozzle selection, etc. but it may not compensate properly for the dynamic head involved with the specific vendor design and known only to the vendor.  If the resulting flow is inadequate, the owner has now assumed the design liability.


    The following list of questions illustrates the general areas of information that will be necessary to gather with respect to the equipment.  The list is far from all-inclusive and is applicable to the common types of finishing equipment used today.  When developing the specifications, detailed information should be sought first from the paint and chemical suppliers, some of which have design guidelines, and secondly from texts and leaflets available through professional societies or consultants servicing the powder coating industry.  Professional societies include the Powder Coating Institute (PCI), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and the Chemical Coaters Association International (CCAI).


    If experienced, the owner’s own maintenance, manufacturing, engineering and operational personnel are a valuable and key source of information and should be consulted for input into the specific requirements.

    • What process goals must be met by the equipment, e.g., production rate, surface preparation, dryness, degree of cure, paint performance, quickness of color change, air or water turnovers, etc.?   
    • What performance goals must the equipment achieve, e.g. time, temperature, humidity, pressure, air or water flow, degree of filtration, paint application, dB, foot-candles, conductivity, speed, cleanliness, etc.?
    • What are the minimum recommended mechanical operating design criteria required to meet the process goals, optimum performance and equipment longevity?
    • How will the equipment operate, e.g., automatic, manual, continuous flow, batch, etc.?
    • What materials of construction should be used i.e. for frames, housings, enclosures, piping, mechanical components, etc.?
    • What are the recommended minimum design dimensions?
    • What type and level of control is desired and how will equipment be interlocked?
    • What type of v access and illumination is required?
    • How is the equipment to be maintained and what features aid maintenance?
    • How much does it cost to operate the equipment? What energy saving features are recommended?
    • What codes must the equipment adhere to?
    • What optional and ancillary equipment shall be included?
    • Is testing with actual parts required or recommended?
    • What safety and environmental measures must be included?  Are permits required?
    • What energy source and other building utilities are required and in what amounts?
    • How is the equipment cleaned and what features aid cleaning?
    • What ambient or background conditions must be identified, e.g. average annual temperature, relative humidity, etc.?


    General Specifications

    General specifications, as the name implies, are more general in nature and can apply to almost any capital project undertaken by the owner.  They include

    • Owner-Specific Specifications
    • Workmanship and Material Specifications
    • Administrative Specifications.


    Owner-specific specifications

    These specifications are specific to the plant where the paint system is to be installed and may exist as corporate-wide specifications for companies with multiple plants.  Generally prepared by facilities or maintenance personnel, these specifications allow very little leeway with regard to methods and materials.  They are important to maintain similarity between manufacturing equipment and enable greater familiarity and faster response with respect to repair and replacement as well as common spare parts inventory.  The owner-specific specifications also cover on-site contractor safety rules, identify temporary utilities and facilities for installation crews, material delivery and storage instructions as well as what equipment may be supplied by the owner.

    • What preferred equipment brand names should be used, e.g. motors, controls, solenoid switches, etc.?
    • What specific practices are in place for installation of electrical, controls, piping, pneumatics and hydraulics?
    • Is an MSDS or other technical data sheet required for contractor materials to be brought on site?
    • What policies are in effect with regard to security, emergencies, smoking, restricted areas, alcohol and drugs, storms, etc.?
    • What personal protection equipment is required for such as eye protection, fall protection, etc.?
    • Are there policies for equipment operation such as lift trucks, scissors lifts, ladders, etc.?
    • What policies are in effect regarding lockout/tag out, burn permits, confined space entry, use of barricades, signage and asbestos identification?
    • How should hazardous material be handled and disposed of?
    • What safety training, inspections and certifications are required?
    • What temporary facilities are available for electrical, air, break, toilet, etc.?
    • How and where should material be shipped, offloaded, stored and protected during installation?
    • What equipment the owner will supply?


    Workmanship and Material Specifications

    Like the technical specifications, these specifications cover minimum requirements for material and workmanship but are more general in nature than the technical specifications and can apply to a range of equipment.  Standard specifications for many areas of work are available from groups such as Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and can be used as applicable to the project.

    • Are there requirements for standard specifications for work involving Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Painting, Piping, Excavation, Structural Steel, Sprinklers or other work?
    • Should all materials be new or can they be used?


    Administrative Specifications

    Administrative specifications cover a wide variety of issues including Insurance, Documentation, Taxes, Change Orders, Legal, Performance Related and Project Management Related.



    If proof of insurance was not collected during contractor qualification, insurance certificates should accompany the contractor’s proposal or, in the very least, be provided prior to beginning work.  The owner’s insurance officer or underwriter should be consulted regarding the types and limits of insurance required of the contractor.  Although there is no set formula to determine the policy type and amounts, the policies should be required based upon a project-by-project evaluation of relative risk.  The following questions illustrate the most common types of policies and amounts associated with installation of a paint system project:

    • What Comprehensive General Liability insurance should be carried?
    • What limits of Automotive Liability are required?
    • What limit of Worker’s Compensation is required?
    • What other miscellaneous insurance policies required, such as builder’s risk, etc.?



    Project documentation specifications identify the drawings, catalog cut sheets, and operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals that are expected, how they should be formatted and in what language.  Requirements should also be included for the O&M manual to include start-up/shutdown/operating instructions, component literature, spare parts list, troubleshooting guidelines, maintenance information and schedules as well as safety information.



    Sales and use taxes for manufacturing are a complex issue and vary project-by-project and state-by-state.  Most states hold manufacturing activities as tax exempt but not all have the same definition as to when the manufacturing activity starts and stops.  Many states consider only that equipment that imparts a discernable physical change to the product during the manufacturing process as exempt. In some states, pollution abatement is considered part of the process and consequently tax exempt, in other states pollution abatement such as wastewater treatment is not tax exempt.  The specification writer should check with their accounting department for a definitive answer and not rely solely on the supplier to determine if tax is due.   For example, in Pennsylvania, manufacturers are exempt on purchases of property that will be incorporated into the product and materials and supplies directly used to produce the product. These items must have a direct causal relationship to the manufacturing process. Pre-production, post-production, and administrative items are not exempt under the manufacturing exemption. Useful websites that provide state by state listing of taxes can be found at or


    Change Orders

    Change orders are used to document changes to the contracted project scope and its impact on the project cost and schedule.  The specifications should include a clause that requires change orders to be prepared in a timely fashion and not put into effect without written approval of the owner.


    Legal Issues

    The owner should consult their attorney for specifications that address various legal issues including the questions listed below.  Standard language for these specifications is available from organizations such as CSI and AIA:

    • Is their information that the owner considers confidential and not to be disclosed?
    • When does the transfer of title occur with the equipment and how does this affect insurance and warranty issues?
    • What state will the applicable law be exercised?
    • Will any patents be infringed and if so who will be responsible?
    • Is there a requirement for the contractor to provide a lien waiver?
    • Under what conditions can the project be terminated, e.g. by the Owner, by Force Majeure and/or the Contractor?
    • Will there be liquidated damages or other penalties or charges for late shipment?


    Performance-related issues

    The specifications should include language that sets the minimum requirements for the following performance related issues:

    • How much and what types of training will be required?
    • What are the minimum warranty requirements the owner will accept?
    • What after sale service will be required?
    • Is a performance bond required and how much, e.g., on the entire project amount or installation amount only?
    • How many years should spare parts be available?
    • What specific tests will be required to gain acceptance of the system?  Acceptance should typically include evaluation that the equipment meets all stated operating levels (e.g. cfm, gpm, temperature, RH, fpm, etc), the product clears all obstructions as it travels through the system, all interlocks and safety controls work, etc.


    Project Management Issues

    Similar to the legal issues, there is standard language for these specifications from CSI or AIA.

    • What is the delivery schedule and how shall it be presented and updated?
    • What are the payment terms and payment schedule? The payment schedule should be tied to project milestones such as completion of engineering, delivery of equipment, completion of installation, start-up.
    • What policies are in effect with regard to duty to inform, subcontracting, workmanship and code compliance (Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], National Electric Code [NEC], National Fire Protection Association [NFPA]), union or non-union labor, labor clause (says contractor will supply all labor), licenses and permits, inspection and testing, and progress meetings, and so on?



    The best way to compare and evaluate bids is to construct a “Comparison Spreadsheet” listing pertinent and important parameters from the specifications in one column and the contractor-specific information in adjacent columns.  The spreadsheet can be sent digitally to the individual contractors for completion and when returned, compiled into one master sheet, which easily compares the three bids. The spreadsheet should be as detailed as possible and can typically be up ten to fifteen pages long.

    • Does the project scope meet the specifications?
    • Do the production-related parameters meet the specifications, e.g., pieces per hour, square feet per minute, pounds per hour, etc.?
    • Do the process-related parameters meet the specifications e.g., turnovers, temperature, time, etc.? 
    • For all the process equipment, do the design-related parameters meet the specifications and how do they compare to the other contractors for, e.g. features, material type and thickness, dimensions, quantity, access, etc.?
    • What are the equipment component ratings and how do they compare between contractors, e.g., hp, cfm, gpm, BTUs, psi, size, tdh, rpm, manufacturer, fpm, etc.?     
    • How much training is provided?
    • Who designs, fabricates, installs and services the equipment?
    • What is the itemized price breakdown?
    • What are estimated operating costs?
    • What codes are adhered to?



    The selection of a contractor should be based upon provision of the greatest value, not the least cost.  The cost of potential production shutdowns for repairs should be factored heavily when considering supplier selection.  Extended periods can lead to expensive production delays; it is important to do it right the first time.  If the specifications have been properly constructed, the resulting price range should be close.  If the least cost bid, especially if far below the other contractors, may indicate an “under bid” and pose the potential that the contractor will try to make-up costs during the course of the project by cutting corners.  The comparison spreadsheet will easily point out differences but cannot be simply relied upon to show the best value.  Detailed analysis of the differences is required and follow-up questioning of the contractor(s) is recommended.   For example, if one contractor’s washer pumps are larger than another, it can mean a better value with built-in flexibility or it could mean that the particular piping design is not as efficient as the next contractor’s and requires a larger size to overcome dynamic head.


    The final contract should summarize the scope of work; identify the involved parties and contacts; identify the project name and location; reference all the pertinent documents; and, list the cost, payment schedule and project schedule.  Dated signature lines should be provided for principals from each organization.  Pertinent documents include such as the specifications, as described above, the contractor’s proposal and drawings, and any other documents or terms and conditions that may be pertinent to the project should be attached as appendices.


    Contracts are drafted to allocate responsibilities, set standards and identify remedies between the parties.  The allocation is based upon the simple fact that someone must pay for all elements of the project.  The contract should be fair and constructed to provide and encourage a “win-win” philosophy between the owner and contractor. It is in the owner’s best interest to keep the supplier viable to insure future upgrade capability, on-going service and availability of spare parts.  Unreasonable or unfair contracts that attempt to assign all the project risks from the owner to the contractor merely raise the probability of change orders and disputes.  Disruptions and disputes on a construction project are expensive to all involved and if it proceeds to court will be before an American legal system that is slanted against the drafters of unfair contracts.  Disputes can be avoided or minimized by early recognition of the problem, good communication between the owner and contractor, accurate definition and documentation of the problem, fair assessment of the cost and schedule impacts and agreement to work together to reach an equitable solution.


    Proper planning, dedicated information gathering, thorough investigation of suppliers, diligent documentation and a commitment to establishing a “win-win”, team-supported environment will spell success to meet the finishing goals.




    Chris Herr is the Sales Manager for Herr Industrial, Inc., an industrial paint systems house and mechanical contractor located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Prior to beginning work at Herr in 1992 as an application engineer, Chris spent 15 years in the environmental science and research fields and holds a B.S. degree from the College of FWR at the University of Idaho.  Chris became the Product Line Manager for finishing systems at Herr in 1996 and is responsible to oversee sales, conceptual designs, and estimating.  He is a member of SME, CCAI and the Electrocoat Association.